A survey has revealed nine in 10 (91%) small animal vets are concerned antimicrobial resistance (AMR) could threaten their ability to treat infections in patients.

The survey’s findings have been released to coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day.

The research – from the British Veterinary Association’s (BVA) 2014 Voice of the Veterinary Profession panel survey – also found 78% of 358 small animal vets are concerned AMR could affect their ability to control post-surgical infections.

The survey results, said BVA, have been released to coincide with European Antibiotic Awareness Day (EAAD) today (November 18). Other findings include:

  • A third of small animal vets described themselves as “very concerned” about AMR
  • 72% cite poor owner compliance as a main driver for AMR
  • Almost 90% said they had come under pressure from clients to prescribe certain drugs

82% of respondents also said they felt their clients were not aware of AMR.

BVA president John Blackwell said the survey’s findings “highlight the need for every one of us to do the right thing… for the good of both human and animal health”.

“This means owners working with vets and understanding that, in some circumstances, antibiotics may not be required to treat their pets,” he said.

“We need pet owners to help us. Just as people are ever more aware they should not go to the doctor’s surgery with the expectation they will be prescribed antibiotics, we would ask pet owners to not automatically expect antibiotics when their pet is not well.

“We need to better inform pet owners about the risks of not following their vet’s instructions precisely when antibiotics are prescribed – particularly about what the consequences can be for using antibiotics prescribed for one pet on another.”

Mr Blackwell urged pet owners to read the BVA’s leaflet on its role on antibiotics and to take the pledge to become an antibiotic guardian – people who pledge to help keep antibiotics effective by using them responsibly and reducing the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

“We are particularly pleased there is a special pledge for pet owners and I would urge all pet owners to make that pledge,” said Mr Blackwell.

“We know owners love their pets and will often think a course of antibiotics will be the best thing to help their pets when they are ill. But the inappropriate use of antibiotics could mean that, in the long-term, the companion animals that mean so much to so many of us may be at risk of very serious and life-threatening infections with no ability to treat them.”

To find the BVA’s leaflet for pet owners, visit the BVA website.

Alternatively, for more information on how to become an antibiotic guardian, visit the campaign’s website.

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