Equine Antibiotics: What They Are, How They Work, and Resistance

Daily, humans wage chemical warfare against an overwhelming population–bacteria. The arsenal of our chemical warfare relies on a mighty weapon–antimicrobial drugs (AMD). Of these substances, antibiotics have been a formidable weapon for over a century in the war against pathogenic bacteria. But antibiotics alone cannot vanquish bacterial invaders entirely
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Bacterial warfare starts with managing your horses well, and it extends to using antibiotics properly to avoid developing resistant bugs.

Beneath our noses, yet unseen by the naked eye, there is a war going on. And the enemy is crafty in its response. Daily, humans wage chemical warfare against an overwhelming population–bacteria. In normal circumstances, humans and other animals coexist with these abundant life forms. And importantly, commensal (one species benefits while the other is unaffected) bacteria carry out work for us and our horses, helping with food digestion, keeping skin invaders in check, and controlling overgrowth of pathogens. But not all bacteria are good players; some can take hold of any organ system, creating infection and disease.

The arsenal of our chemical warfare relies on a mighty weapon–antimicrobial drugs (AMD), which are drugs or chemicals capable of killing or inhibiting growth of microorganisms. Of these substances, antibiotics have been a formidable weapon for over a century in the war against pathogenic bacteria. But antibiotics alone cannot vanquish bacterial invaders entirely; for complete resolution of infection, an animal's native immune system plays a crucial defensive role

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Written by:

Nancy S. Loving, DVM, owns Loving Equine Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and has a special interest in managing the care of sport horses. Her book, All Horse Systems Go, is a comprehensive veterinary care and conditioning resource in full color that covers all facets of horse care. She has also authored the books Go the Distance as a resource for endurance horse owners, Conformation and Performance, and First Aid for Horse and Rider in addition to many veterinary articles for both horse owner and professional audiences.

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