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© 1986, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


This NebGuide provides general guidelines about some of the problems that can occur when using antibiotics in treating animals.

Antibiotics are frequently used, and misused, by animal owners in an attempt to remedy disease problems. This use is encouraged by drug company sales efforts, economic pressures, and easy access to the products.

Improper use of antibiotics is costly, detrimental, and may result in: 1) delayed diagnosis; 2) ineffectiveness; 3) toxicity (poisoning); 4) allergic reactions; and 5) drug residue contamination of food animal products.

After evaluating possible benefits and risks, determining whether or not to use antibiotics for treatment depends on the diagnosis, including the bacterium involved and the specific drug and its dosage schedule. Which drug to select also hinges on the course of the infection, and the chemistry or pharmacology of the drug in the live animal.