A Single Course of Antibiotics Can Damage the Gut Microbiome Long Term - Act Now
Antibiotics are routinely used to treat infections in pets. And although this is necessary at times (and in some cases can be life-saving) these drugs are not without risks.
Common side effects for example, include:
- allergic reactions
- skin rashes
- loss of appetite
- abdominal discomfort
- muscle and / or joint pain
These and other reactions have been recognised for a long time. More recently however, it has come to light that antibiotics can adversely affect health for far longer than was previously thought, due to their damaging effect on the gut microbiome, and that this can occur following a single course.
The Gut Microbiome
Healthy bowels are home to a dynamic array of beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms, which play a vital role in many aspects of digestive and immune system health, including the:
- breakdown of food
- assimilation of nutrients from the diet
- development of healthy, balanced immune responses
- protection against intestinal pathogens (organisms that cause disease)
- normal functioning of the nervous system and fight / flight reactions, which affect mental alertness, mood and behaviour
If this population of microbes (collectively called the gut microbiome) is damaged by the ingestion of anything harmful, such as toxins, heavy metals, pollutants or drugs for example, a wide range of health disturbances can occur, including:
- loss of beneficial (or 'friendly') gut flora
- an overgrowth of yeasts and pathogenic bacteria (which normally only exist in low numbers)
- digestive disturbances (such as bloating, excessive wind, acid reflux, regurgitation of bile and /or diarrhoea)
- inflammation of the bowels
- small intestinal disease, such as IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) 'leaky' gut and other conditions
- immune system disturbances (such as hypersensitivity to dietary and environmental allergens, with associated skin itching, inflammation and eruptions)
- anal sac problems
Antibiotics Alter The Gut Microbiome
Many substances can destroy large numbers of friendly gut flora and as a consequence, disturb the balance of microbes in the bowels, including:
- food additives
- environmental chemicals (which collect on the skin, coat and paws, and are subsequently swallowed during self-grooming)
One of the commonest causes however, is oral antibiotics.
For many years, these were thought to have a relatively mild and transient impact on intestinal function and digestion. Recent evidence however, has shown that in certain circumstances the composition of the gut microbiome can be altered long term (and possibly for life) following even a short course of antibiotics.
Studies of the effects of clarithromycin, metronidazole and omeprazole in people for example, show that these antibiotics may affect 30% or more of the microbiome, and although it may partially recover, the effects can persist for at least 4 years after exposure.*
And the more severe the disturbance to the gut microbiome is, and the longer it continues, the higher the risk that skin, bowel, immune system and other health problems will develop as a result.
Restoring A Healthy Microbiome
Given the far reaching consequences of an unhealthy microbiome, it is essential to support the repopulation of the gut with beneficial bowel bacteria, whenever this occurs. This can be done as follows:
- Give several drops of Intestinal Cleanse and Organ Cleanse twice daily for a week. Repeat again after a 3 week interval, and then at 2 -3 monthly intervals going forward.
- Add Digestion (a clinically proven* Veterinary Formula prebiotic) twice daily to food.
- Provide a daily dose of a good probiotic (such as BioKult).
BioKult provides a rich supply of friendly gut flora to the bowels, while Digestion helps them to thrive, to support the development of a healthy microbiome.
Because the microbiome is constantly replicating itself, any attempt to improve its composition typically takes many months, if not years. It is important therefore to provide prebiotic (Digestion) and probiotic support immediately following oral antibiotics, and to continue indefinitely, unless there is a specific reason to stop.
Where a particular health issue has arisen as a consequence of, or in conjunction with microbiome damage (such as a chronic skin problem or digestive disturbance, for example) additional measures are often required to improve health. A Vince the Vet enriched raw food diet can play a pivotal role in this. For more details please contact us.