Top Animal Health
Concerns For
Veterinary Professionals

Top Animal Health
Concerns For Pet Owners

Support For Your
For Animal Owners
Drug Resistance
(Dogs and Cats)
(Canine and Feline)

Drug resistance in dogs and cats – much like in their human counterparts -- is becoming a greater medical challenge every day. Antibiotic resistance occurs when a bacterial infection in a dog or cat successfully fights against the administered antibiotic rendering it ineffective as a treatment. When this occurs, a different type of antibiotic must be identified and administered so that the original condition can be treated.


This acquired drug resistance applies to both antibiotics (which kills or injures bacteria) and antimicrobials (that kills or inhibits the growth of bacteria, fungi or protozoans (single-celled organisms)) drugs. This is a major medical concern for both canines and felines especially when it comes to resistance to Staphylococcus aureus MRSA infections – one of the most common causes of antibiotic resistance.


Staphylococcus aureus is a common type of bacteria found on the skin which can cause a problem with drug resistance, especially to a type of penicillin known as methicillin. Staph pseudintermedius is another type of staph in animals which can also become resistant to antibiotics. Once Staph aureus becomes resistant to methicillin, it is considered to be MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, though Staph pseudintermedius resistance may also be referred to as MRSA, or as MRSP; or a drug-resistant staph infection). MRSA typically is resistant to multiple other antibiotics too. MRSA is spread by direct contact with either an infected animal or with contaminated objects. It is believed that MRSA can also be transmitted between humans and animals. (See Dogs-MRSA-Dermatitis for more information.) Another name for this type of problem is MDR infection, or Multiple Drug Resistant infection.


Drug resistance is created when the bacteria’s defense mechanisms:


» Produce enzymes capable of making antibiotics ineffective;

» Create a coating or film that protects the bacteria against antibiotics;

» Genetically alters itself against the bacteria (especially where a specific antibiotic has been used before) which also gets passed along to future generations; and » Reduce the amount of antibiotic that actually enters the bacteria so the appropriate level of the drug is never reached and the infection is not effectively defeated.



There are a number of specific factors that also play into the development of a drug resistance. They include:

» The dog or cat’s current health and any previous health problems;

» A weakened immune system;

» Allergies;

» Damaged tissue or organs or the inability of the blood to reach infected organs or tissues;

» The choice of antibiotic and any associated issues;

» The characteristics and ability of the bacteria to adapt and develop a resistance;  

» Failure to remove pus and fluids from the infected area before the use of antibiotics; and

» Therapy to suppress the immune system while simultaneously using antibiotics.


Problems also arise when antibiotics are designed to fight or stop the replication of bacteria, so the dog or cat’s immune system must actually kill the bacterial infection instead.  The effectiveness of the antibiotics is then ultimately affected by the animals overall health and immune system strength.


Drug resistance to antibiotics can also result from inappropriate choices including:

» An improper dosage/frequency is prescribed for the dog or cat;

» Discontinuing the use of the antibiotic before all the doses have been administered to the sick animal allowing the bacteria to develop a resistance;

» Interference of other drugs or food with the proper absorption or metabolization of the prescribed antibiotic; and

» Choosing the wrong antibiotic for fighting the diagnosed bacteria or organisms.


Veterinarians know the importance of selecting the correct antibiotic, dosage and frequency to produce the best results.  It is critical that you follow any and all instructions given by your veterinarian and complete the full course of antibiotic treatment (even if the symptoms subside) in order to successfully kill the infection and avoid possible drug resistance.


SYMPTOMS: Staph infections can cause pimples, red spots, peeling skin, crusts, itching, weeping areas, redness, loss of fur and pus. If these areas do not respond to conventional antibiotic therapy, there is a chance that the dog has MRSA. A culture must be performed in order to determine whether this is the case. In addition, not all dogs and cats who encounter MRSA will develop symptoms. Some pets are carriers of MRSA, just as some humans are.




There are some general things that a dog or cat owner can do to help reduce the chances that their pet will become antibiotic- resistant. .



1.One of the best things to do is to keep your canine or feline healthy by feeding nutritionally valuable food and keeping up with their yearly exams. These simple actions will keep your beloved pet healthy with a strong immune system.


2.Make sure that your sick dog or cat takes all the recommended doses of an antibiotic when it is prescribed; even if the original symptoms subside. Not only will this help heal the current infection, but it will also help to keep the bacteria from discovering a new way of being resistant to the antibiotic.


3.Use natural supplements to help boost your dog or cat’s immune system before disease strikes. A strong immune system will go far in working effectively with antibiotics to kill the bacterial infection and stave off drug resistance. Proper diet and supplementation cannot be emphasized enough; it takes your pet an average of one year to fully recover from the effects of antibiotics and even longer with a sub-standard diet. See below for more information on creating and supporting a strong immune system in your dog or cat.


4.With skin infections, special baths may also be prescribed. Be sure to use the prescription shampoo as directed and to shampoo as often as your veterinarian has recommended.


5.A lime-sulfur dip can help with the infection and give your pet relief from constant itching. 6.Hypochlorous preparations such as Vetericyn can also be very useful.


For more information on natural remedies for specific diseases, refer to that specific disease in the Veterinarian’s Desk Reference (VDR) at


Integrative Medicine


Not all animals can use all natural remedies; allergic reactions to oils
and/or herbs and digestive problems are possible.
A natural remedy is not a substitute for veterinary care.


The following nutraceuticals or natural/herbal formulas can also provide effective support for your canine and feline’s immune system and avoid developing possible drug resistance.

» Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Supports a healthy immune system and body and also protects against some cancers.


» Astragalus Root: Helps restore immune function and also reduces the autoimmune response and may offer some relief from immune disorders.


» Echinacea Extract: Has been used by Native Americans for generations to fight infections and purify the blood; stimulates the immune system to fight viral and bacterial infections; provides resistance to mold-like bacteria, yeast, fungi, parasites and viruses.


» Reishi Mushrooms: Enhances immune modulators which are critical in fighting viral and bacterial infections.


» N-Acetylo-L-Cysteine (NAC): Provides powerful immune support and plays a protective role against many toxins.


» Thymus Extract: A major immune system gland that largely determines the overall health of the immune system and protects animals from bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, cancer, allergies, dermatitis and immune disorders.


» Vitamin A: Vital in the growth and repair of body tissues, especially the skin, and reduces susceptibility to infection.


» Vitamin C: An antioxidant that resists viral and bacterial infections


Drug Resistance: Immune System Support
– Canine and Feline Products –

(Reference: Veterinarians’ Desk Reference)

(Live Link)






1 capsule per 20 lb bid or
1 scoop per 20 lb bid

Maintains optimal health and supports recovery.

Canine Sports Basics12 or Canine Geriatric Basics12

Dogs: 1 capsule/25 lb sid

Provides supportive nutrients.

Cellular Forte with IP-6 28

Cats: ¼ capsule bid
Dogs: ¼-1 capsule bid

Stimulates the immune system.


Cats: ½ capsule sid
Dogs: 1 capsule/25 lb sid

Nutrients enhance immune function.

Immune System Support22

Cats: 1-2 tablets bid

Specific nutrients to support the feline immune system against common viral infections.


Cat: 1 capsule bid
Small dog: 1 capsule/10 lb bid

Improves gut barrier function; immune modulator.


Dogs: 1 scoop/25 lb bid

Improves gut barrier function; immune modulator.


Cats: ½-1 capsule sid
Dogs: 2 capsules/25 lb sid (give between meals)

Plant sterols and sterolins enhance immune function and decrease autoimmune antibody production.


Cats and dogs: 1 drop/1 lb sid-bid
(1 dropperful = 30 drops)

Increases macrophage activity, NK-cell activity, resistance to infection, IgG and IgM response, interleukins, interferon, humoral and cellular immune functions.


Cats: ¼ capsule bid
Dogs: 1 capsule/ 25 lb bid

Herbs, vitamins, and zinc for immune support.

Yu Ping Fan San25

Cats: 2 pills bid or tid
Dogs: 2-4 pills bid or tid

Tonifies Qi and stabilizes the exterior.


To help you quickly find the right Integrative Medicine formulas and manufacturers to help treat your dogs, cats and horses, please refer to the Veterinarians’ Desk Reference.
(Click Here)


(Always consult with your veterinarian to properly diagnose any health problems. Misdiagnosis and/or mistreatment -- including OTC and/or homeopathic products -- can lead to dangerous complications.)



Send to
a Friend
Support Our
Thorne Research
ModecareVet Thorne Research

National Animal Supplement Council

Natural Partners

Natural Partners