After working in the field of veterinary medicine for almost 15 years I think I have narrowed down one of the least understood and least utilized tests for patients because owners decline it.
What is this mysterious test you might ask??
It’s a culture!! All kinds of things can be cultured in veterinary medicine, but cultures for ear infections and urinary tract infections are so very important, but rarely done. The reasons they are declined are sometimes obvious; they are expensive. But the expense is relative to the generous amount of information you and your veterinarian get.
If you watch TV or read anything on the internet you will have heard about all of these crazy super bacteria’s that ravage the human health care system. We are fortunate in veterinary medicine because we have not seen as much of these “bugs”, but they are becoming more and more common. The bacteria causing recurring ear and urinary tract infections are becoming more and more resistant to our arsenal of antibiotics, and we are compounding the problem because the more that we just haphazardly choose antibiotics for infections that we are not sure of, we may be teaching these bacteria to be resistant. Bacteria are smart, and are programmed to evolve to survive.
So what does a culture do for us?
When we take a sample of these questionable bacteria and send it to the lab; and then we wait, sometimes up to a week. What to know what happening while we wait? The lab it=s hard at work growing and identifying the bacteria that are causing all the pain and inflammation to our pets. Once they grow and identify these bacteria they test them against a variety of antibiotics. They will tell us which antibiotics do not work at all and which ones kill these little bacteria. They will even take this a step further and tell us at which dose the medication is effective.
This takes all the guessing out and we know for sure what bacteria we are dealing with and how difficult it may be to get rid of.
In a world where bacteria are getting more and more resistant this is a very important tool for us.
So next time your veterinarian asks you to do a culture on your pet, please think twice before saying no!