The Bane of Antibiotics

Again, a customer came in to give a bath to a dog with skin issues that point to food sensitivities. Now, I try to be very careful to not over-assess everything as a food allergy. But this dog had some telltale signs, and the vet even assessed it as such and sent him home with some antibiotics. I got the vibe that this guy didn’t want to hear any alternative thoughts on the topic, so I kept my mouth shut and set him up for a bath.

But as he was checking in, it just so happened that the customer next to him at the register also had a dog with food sensitivities, and was asking some questions about nutritional changes. Far be it from me to brush off the topic, so I offered some thoughts on the history of the canine digestive system and how she may better handle her dog’s condition. And, yeah, maybe some thoughts on the idiocy of prescribing antibiotics for food sensitivities rather than- oh, I don’t know… a diet change?

I then brought the first guy’s dog to the tub and as I was pulling out the ramp, I was still thinking of the above idiocy of prescribing antibiotics for a food sensitivity, and I just couldn’t stop my mouth.
“So, does he have an infection?”
“No, no infection,”
“I’m sorry, but why is your dog on antibiotics if there’s no sign of a bacterial infection?” And, OK, I may have mumbled something about the increasing rate of antibiotic resistance due to the overuse of antibiotics…

Antibiotic resistance is an increasing problem. Dr. Jeffery Fisher writes that “unlike humans, who produce a new generation every twenty years or so, bacteria produce a new generation every twenty minutes, multiplying 500,000 times faster than we do.” As living microorganisms, they are evolving to adapt to their environment in a “survival of the fittest” mode. Thing is, they are super-adept at this. In Herbal Antibiotics, Stephen Buhner explains how they exchange resistance information to each other by emitting pheromones to attract others to them, in order to exchange resistance information. They actually position themselves alongside each other, and “a resistant bacterium extrudes a filament of itself, a plasmid, to the nonresistant bacterium, which opens a door in its cell wall. Within the filament is a copy of a portion of the resistant bacterium’s DNA. Specifically, it contains the encoded information on resistance to one or more antibiotics. This DNA copy is now a part of the new bacterium; it is now resistant to all the antibiotics the first bacterium was resistant to. It can pass this resistance on to its offspring or to any other bacteria it meets.”. Furthermore, bacteria learn resistance to multiple antibiotics from encountering only one antibiotic.

With growing antibiotic resistance, surely the drug companies are working to stay ahead of the game, right? Not so much. In fact, they have practically stopped developing new antibiotics – not because bacteria are evolving too quickly to keep up with, but because it’s not as profitable as other drugs. Have an infection? Use antibiotics for a week or two, and you’re done. So, they’re busy developing drugs for arthritis and cholesterol — the ones that you will be on for the rest of your life. There’s a far better return on tho$e.

It’s sad that the pharmaceutical companies have gotten their grip on veterinary medicine as firmly as they have on human medicine. In fact, the No. 1 arthritis med for dogs (Rimadyl) was originally developed by Pfizer for the human market, but the FDA would not approve it due to its dangerous side effects, so Pfizer turned to the veterinary community rather than lose all that $$ spent in R&D. Of course, vaccines in pet care are a prime example of Big Pharma run amok, but that’s a whole other tangent. (For the record, I did work for a pharmaceutical company for 8 years before getting fed up and going to the dogs.)

Anyway, upon finishing his dog’s bath, this guy said “I thought about what you said, and I think it makes sense. What food do you think I should try with him?”


I’m grateful for this guy’s open ears and open mind. And I wish his dog a quick return to health.


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