About Animal Medicines

Animal Health Terms


Substances produced by or derived from living organisms, such as molds, and that kills or inhibits the growth or reproduction of bacteria. For more information about animal antibiotics, visit www.togetherABX.com.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency responsible for monitoring the quality of licensed biologicals through the Center for Veterinary Biologics.

Animal Drug Residues
Residual traces of a drug compound present in a food-producing animal’s edible tissues.

Animal Health Products
The pharmaceuticals, vaccines, feed additives and pesticides used in modern food production, and the medicines that keep pet animals healthy.

Antibiotic Resistance
The ability of microorganisms such as bacteria to withstand antibiotic treatment. Some bacteria are naturally resistant to specific antibiotics. In other cases, bacteria develop resistance over time to an antibiotic to which they were previously susceptible. Selection for resistance is a natural process that results in survival of the most resistant strains. For more information about how the animal health industry, producers, and veterinarians are working to prevent antibiotic resistance, visit www.togetherABX.com.

An agent that kills bacteria or suppresses their multiplication or growth. Includes antibiotics and synthetic agents. For more information about antimicrobials, visit www.togetherABX.com.

Antimicrobial Resistance
The result of microbes changing in ways that reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of drugs, chemicals, or other agents designed to cure or prevent infections. For more information about how the animal health industry, producers, and veterinarians are working to prevent antimicrobial resistance, visit www.togetherABX.com.

Bacteria (singular: bacterium)
Any of a large group of microscopic, single-celled organisms that live in soil, water, plants, organic matter, or the live bodies of animals or people. Bacteria may be helpful, but in certain conditions may cause illnesses such as strep throat, most ear infections, and bacterial pneumonia. For more information about keeping animals healthy and limiting bacteria growth, visit www.togetherABX.com.

Products that detect, stimulate or enhance an animal’s immunity to infection, and that are generally derived from living organisms.

Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM)
Branch of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that reviews and regulates the approval of all animal drugs to ensure that they are safe and effective in animals, and are not harmful to humans.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that is responsible for protecting human health and safety through the application disease prevention and control measures, environmental health standards and the promotion of educational activities.

Diagnostic Test Kit
Biological or medical device that allows farmers and veterinarians to detect illness in animals.

A substance intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of disease in humans or animals.

Proof of a product’s effectiveness. Used in approving animal health products.

Involving the digestive tract.

Feed Additive
Substance added to animal feed to improve its nutritional value, promote growth or control disease.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency that regulates the development, approval and monitoring of food, drugs and cosmetics.

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)
Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency that monitors the use of drugs in livestock by routinely sampling for residues in food animals.

Health Maintenance
In food animal populations, shifting the population balance of the micro flora in the gastrointestinal tract, thus improving nutrient utilization and resulting in healthy growth. Feed efficiency and average daily gain are indicators of response.  Experiences shows these uses also help suppress sub-clinical disease.

An invasion of an organism by a pathogen such as bacteria or viruses. Some infections lead to disease.

Major Species
Cattle, horses, swine, chickens, turkeys, dogs, and cats are designated as the major species by the FDA. These are the largest domesticated species populations for which animal medicines are produced.

Any organism, such as a germ, virus or pathogen, of microscopic size.

Minor Species
All animals other than humans that are not one of the major species. Examples include: zoo animals, ornamental fish, parrots, ferrets, and guinea pigs. Some animals of agricultural importance are also minor species, such as sheep, goats, catfish, game birds, and honey bees (because they produce an edible product), among others.

National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS)
A collaboration of the CDC, FDA, and USDA designed to monitor antimicrobial resistance of human enteric bacteria.

New Animal Drug Application (NADA)
Application by a drug manufacturer to the FDA for approval of a new animal drug. Government and industry refer to any compound that is available for sale as a “approved NADA.”

Bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that can cause disease.

Use of medicine to prevent or limit occurrence of disease.

Prudent Use (of antibiotics)
A set of principles developed by global organizations representing the animal health industry (IFAH) and the veterinary profession (World Veterinary Association) which emphasize professional supervision of antibiotic susceptibility and resistance, and consideration of alternatives to antibiotics. Prudent use can be defined more simply as the application of antibiotics only when justified to ensure production of safe and wholesome food and to provide demonstrable economic and environmental benefits without jeopardizing public health.

A biological preparation that improves immunity to a particular disease. Typically contains an agent that resembles a disease-causing microorganism, and is often made from weakened or killed forms of the microbe or its toxins.

World Health Organization (WHO)
Part of the United Nations. An autonomous international health organization established in 1948 to promote global attainment of the highest level of health. Based in Geneva, the WHO provides services and information, sponsors international conferences, negotiates agreements and promotes and funds research. Since a large number of known diseases are zoonotic – meaning they can pass between animals and humans – WHO interacts with the animal health community and the World Organization for Animal Health. WHO also interacts with the agriculture community in the context of Codex Alimentarius, the arm of FAO and WHO that creates international standards for food trade.

World Trade Organization (WTO)
An international organization that regulates trade and tariffs between nations in order to ensure that trade flows smoothly, predictably and as freely as possible. Based in Geneva, the WTO functions by negotiating multilateral agreements, which are then ratified by the member nations in order to protect their trading rights.