More must be done to ensure vets put guidelines on responsible antibiotic use into practise, according to researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) and the Bella Moss Foundation (BMF).

Findings from a joint survey show most vets think pet owners are unaware of antibiotic resistance, but more than half say they talk to clients about it.

In addition, while the vast majority (92%) of vets are aware of the myriad existing guidelines on the responsible use of antibiotics, 55% do not have written guidance in practice.

BMF founder Jill Moss said pet owners and vets need to take more responsibility: “There is lots of guidance on how to choose the right drugs and help stop the spread of antibiotic resistance.

“However, it appears vets might not be using it in practice – and we know more could be talking to pet owners about antibiotic resistance.

“BMF receives calls from distressed pet owners, and from vets wanting advice on difficult resistance cases, on a weekly basis. More needs to be done to educate people about the risks of resistance and we want to urge both pet owners and vets to do more to take responsibility, understand antibiotics are precious and to work together to keep our pets healthy.”

The survey found;

•45% of vets have written antibiotic use guidelines in practice for easy reference

•30% of vets do not have written protocols on infection control

•The vast majority of vets (more than 80%) say owners are not concerned about antibiotic resistance, however, only 45% of vets actually talk about it with owners

•Heavy-hitting broad spectrum antibiotics such as fluoroquinolones were rarely used (in between 5-7% of cases) and antibiotics were often not used to treat gastrointestinal conditions (used in 32% of cases).

RVC veterinary lecturer David Lloyd said: “The survey indicates UK small animal veterinarians are interested in responsible antimicrobial use and their selection of antimicrobial agents broadly reflects current recommendations.

“However, evidence of comprehensive decision-making processes for antimicrobial therapy was lacking and more effective measures for promoting the implementation of responsible antimicrobial use are urgently needed.”

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