Using Antibiotics Responsibly, Part 2: Treatment Success and Responsible Use

For the health and well-being of cattle and the associated high costs of treatment and additional labor, we can all agree: If we need to use an antibiotic to help treat disease, we want it to work and work as quickly and as efficaciously as possible. 

By using antibiotics responsibly, we can help ensure they continue to be as effective in the future as they are now. This means a veterinarian should be involved (read more about working with a veterinarian in Part 1) to help producers keep cattle from getting sick and also in prescribing an appropriate antibiotic for treatment if cattle do get sick.

Shawn Blood, DVM, Beef Strategic Technical Services at Zoetis breaks down a few reasons why first-treatment success of an antibiotic is a critical part of the beef industry’s important efforts to use these valuable resources responsibly.

Improving Cattle Health and Well-being

“If cattle are treated more than once, their chances of getting back to peak performance are drastically decreased,” Dr. Blood said. “The weight loss that occurs from the animal being sick and having a decreased appetite can compromise him for the rest of his life.”

Using Fewer Antibiotics

A study found that using an antibiotic with demonstrated efficacy, specifically Draxxin® (tulathromycin) Injectable Solution, for initial bovine respiratory disease (BRD) treatment could help avoid 0.8 million to 1.8 million treatments each year in the U.S.

“Efficacy is an important part of defining the correct product,” Dr. Blood said. “If you’re using the correct product at the correct time, you’re actually using fewer doses of antibiotics and, in most cases, fewer classes of antibiotics.”

Helping Reduce the Need for Re-treatments

With the right antibiotic, not only are you helping reduce overall antibiotic use, you’re also helping reduce the number of re-treatments.

“When we do get a sick animal, if we are using the broadest-spectrum, longest-acting antibiotic, we can to help get that animal back into its environment, on pasture or into a pen, and never have to pull or treat him again,” Dr. Blood said.

Using an Antibiotic Only When It’s Needed

When disease is treated earlier and you’re targeting the bacterial pathogen you’re trying to treat, you can have more success.

“When we talk about antibiotics, we talk about mode of action, or how the product works directly on the type of bacteria causing the disease to kill the bacteria or at least inhibit its growth,” Dr. Blood said. “We have different classes of antibiotics at Zoetis that represent a lot of different modes of action to help treat the bacterial infection you’re facing, including a macrolide [Draxxin], cephalosporin [Excede® (ceftiofur crystalline free acid) Sterile Suspension] and fluoroquinolone [Advocin® (danofloxacin injection) Sterile Antimicrobial Injectable Solution].”

Intervening Early for Improved Success

“Antibiotics are an important tool when we need them, but aren’t the only tool we have to help maintain cattle health and well-being,” Dr. Blood said. “The earlier you intervene in a disease process, whether that’s a vaccine, a change in management practices, an antibiotic or other innovations, the better chance you have to impact the disease process in the first place.”

Next up: Whether it’s for animal health or human health, we all play a role in ensuring the efficacy of antibiotics. Part 3, the final part in this Quick Tip series, will explore how we can all work better together.

Find more: This video explains more about the relationship between an antibiotic with demonstrated efficacy and responsible antibiotic use. More expert advice, articles, videos and study summaries from veterinarians and producers are available at