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Rational use of medicines
  1. Paul Chambers, BVSc, PhD, DVA, MRCVS, MRCA
  1. Institute of Veterinary, Animal and Biomedical Sciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand
  1. e-mail: j.p.chambers{at}

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A PHYSICIAN treating people usually has information available from randomised controlled trials to allow rational, evidence-based prescribing. Partly because of the cost of clinical trials and partly because many of the drugs used in veterinary practice are old and out of patent, this sort of information is rarely available for animals. At the very least, we need an answer to the question: ‘Will this treatment do more good than harm?’. In a paper summarised in this issue of Veterinary Record, Schulz and others (2011) go some way to remedy this lack of information on doxycycline use in dogs.

Doxycycline, a broad-spectrum tetracycline antibiotic, was introduced in 1968 and was in clinical use in dogs by the 1970s. It is the fourth most commonly used antibiotic in small animal practice in Australia (Watson and Maddison 2001) and in some tertiary hospitals in the USA (Wayne and others 2011). However, a large-scale study of side effects in dogs has not been carried out until now.

Doxycycline has greater lipid solubility, and thus better penetration into tissues, than older drugs such as oxytetracycline. It also has better antibacterial activity, possibly also due …

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