Antibiotic Selection in Exotic Pets
World Small Animal Veterinary Association Congress Proceedings, 2018
S. Xie
Department of Conservation-Research and Veterinary Services, Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Singapore

Antibiotic selection should ideally be guided by the results of culture and sensitivity tests performed on swabs from clinically relevant sites and organs. However, where that is not possible due to lack of client compliance or infections in difficult to access sites, antibiotic selection based on first principles can be the difference between resolution of the infection or death from septicaemia.

Enrofloxacin is a popular choice of antibiotic in exotic pets. However, using a fluoroquinolone as a first line antibiotic can have consequences for development of antimicrobial resistance. As antibiotic stewardship campaigns become more prominent in the veterinary community, veterinarians should consider other antibiotics when faced with infections in exotic pets.

In birds, doxycycline can be used as broad-spectrum antibiotic against aerobic gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, including Chlamydia and Mycoplasma sp. Clavulanic acid/amoxycillin can also be used against aerobic and anaerobic gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. There are both oral and injectable formulations of each antibiotic.

In reptiles, ceftazidime can be used as a broad-spectrum antibiotic against aerobic gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. It also has action against a few anaerobic bacteria. When treating a primarily aerobic gram-negative bacterial infection, another alternative is gentamicin. The main advantage of both these antibiotics is that they do not require daily administration when injected and has less tissue irritation effects at the site of injection compared to injectable enrofloxacin.

Small mammals such as rabbits and guinea pigs can suffer dysbiosis if an inappropriate antibiotic, e.g., oral clavulanic acid/amoxycillin is used. It is possibly for this reason that veterinarians would rather prescribe a safer antibiotic such as enrofloxacin as a first option. However, other antibiotics, such as trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole may have a broader spectrum and equal safety profile as enrofloxacin.

Another antibiotic that can be considered in all common exotic pet species is metronidazole, but it has action only against anaerobic bacteria, and is also antiprotozoal.

In conclusion, there are non-fluoroquinolone antibiotics that can be used safely in exotic pet species and should be considered where possible. The dose rates and frequency for each antibiotic has deliberately been left out of this abstract so that changes in dose rates from newer pharmacological studies does not alter the accuracy of the content.


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S. Xie
Department of Conservation, Research and Veterinary Services
Wildlife Reserves Singapore

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