The discovery of antibiotics revolutionized medicine. Prior to WWII and the commercialization of penicillin, infections killed more soldiers than actual battle injuries. In fact, antibiotics are considered by many experts to be the most important class of medicines ever to be discovered.
But the terrifying reality is that those same life-saving drugs are losing their efficacy due to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has termed this “one of the biggest public health challenges of our time.”
How do we stop it? First, we need to understand how it’s happening.
Five fast facts on antibiotic-resistant bacteria
Animal agriculture is the true culprit
It’s common for people to believe that the over-prescription of antibiotics for humans is what has led to such a rapid rise of the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, but in reality it’s the animal agriculture industry that is the main driver of this global public health threat.
For the most part, antibiotics are not fed to animals to treat infection; rather, they are fed at low doses to improve the yield of meat from an animal. Exactly how antibiotics promote animal growth is not clearly understood. Nonetheless, as their inclusion results in higher margins for the animal agriculture industry, antibiotics continue to be fed to food animals despite the risk that such off-target use poses to human health.
The health implications of antibiotic resistance
In all likelihood, both you and your pet already harbour bacteria in your gut and/or on your skin that is resistant to antibiotics. As we know, like humans, cats and dogs live with trillions of microbes - aka, their microbiome! Most of those bacteria either actively support the health of your pet or have a seemingly neutral effect. Some of those bacteria are known pathogens, but are normally kept in check by both the host immune system as well as all of the other healthy and neutral bacteria in the community. Any of those bacteria might have required the ability to resist antibiotic treatment; however, as long as those particular microbes don’t start creating problems (such as leading to an infection) then we don’t need to worry about them. This will most often be the case.
If your pet does develop an infection by a type of bacteria that is antibiotic resistant, this will become apparent to you when you attempt to treat your pet and they don’t get better. At that point your veterinarian will likely use a different antibiotic in hopes that the bacteria isn’t resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics. Unfortunately, multiresistant bacteria do exist, and it’s those types of bacteria that present the biggest public health threat - to people and our pets!
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria is just one of the reasons we are making cultured meat for cats and dogs. Ultimately, our meat is ultimately safer for your pets. We grow our meat without the inclusion of antibiotics or growth steroids; our cultured meat is free from pathogen contamination (since the most common source of contaminated meat is fecal matter from animals at slaughter); and our meat does not undergo an intense sterilization process such as the case with rendered ingredients from factory farms, so most of the nutrients that cats need are naturally retained in our cultured meat.
And, later this year, we are also coming out with a complete-nutrition, plant-based dog food for your omnivore pups. No antibiotics, no contaminants, just the whole foods dogs need to thrive!