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Animal welfare includes proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care and humane handling. Medicines, including antibiotics, are an important tool for veterinarians tasked with protecting animal health and preventing suffering from disease, which can lead to poor animal welfare.


If livestock or poultry are treated with antibiotics, they must go through a specific withdrawal period (determined by the antibiotic prescribed) to ensure enough time has passed for the antibiotic to leave the animal’s system before being processed to ensure your meat and milk are free of antibiotic residues!


Raise your hand if you’ve ever taken an antibiotic and felt so much better afterwards. Well, sometimes cows need an antibiotic to get over an illness. While the cow is on the antibiotic, their milk is not mixed in with the milk from the rest of the herd. Farmers also wait a specific time period (called a withdrawal period) before that cow can be milked again with the rest of the herd. Every time a truck comes to pick milk up from a farm, the milk is tested for antibiotic residue. If it tests positive, the entire tanker of milk is discarded and that farmer is responsible for reimbursing the entire load. So you see, there are strict measures in place to prevent antibiotics in milk!


DYK: Under the new FDA policy on judicious use of antibiotics, a veterinarian must be involved for medically important antibiotics and growth promotion use has been eliminated.


Why would a vet prescribe an antibiotic for an animal that isn’t sick?

Veterinarians and farmers recognize that diseases can spread rapidly, so when one animal shows symptoms of a disease or becomes ill, the surrounding animals may not be sick yet, but are likely to get sick and may die if they aren’t treated. This is known as preventive antibiotic treatment. For frequently asked questions about antibiotics, visit


“The most common antibiotics used in people are in the penicillins family, while ionophores are the most commonly used antibiotics in animals. In fact, ionophores are not used at all in people. In most cases, commonly used antibiotics in people are not commonly used in animals and vice versa.”

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