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Vets are taking some steps to use antibiotics carefully, but more must be done to ensure practitioners put guidelines on responsible use into practice. According to findings from a joint survey by pet infection awareness charity The Bella Moss Foundation and the Royal Veterinary College, most vets think pet owners are unaware of antibiotic resistance – which can create superbugs deadly to both pets and humans – but more than half admit they do not actually talk to clients about it.

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

BMF founder Jill Moss said: “We know antibiotic resistance is a growing concern for veterinary and human healthcare leaders and policy makers, and there is lots of guidance out there on how to choose the right drugs, on a case-by-case basis, 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 per cent of vets do have any written antibiotic use guidelines in practice for easy reference

– 30 per cent of vets do not have written protocols on infection control

– The vast majority of vets (more than 80 per cent) say owners are not concerned about antibiotic resistance, however, only 45 per cent of vets actually talk about it with owners While, the small-scale study of just over 100 vets has revealed possible gaps in the decision-making process of practitioners, it was not all bad news. Heavy-hitting broad spectrum antibiotics such as fluroquinolones were rarely used (in between 5-7 per cent of cases) and antibiotics were often not used to treat gastrointestinal conditions (used in 32 per cent of cases).

RVC academic David Lloyd said: “The survey indicates that 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.”

Notes to editors For more information, pictures and interviews telephone BMF founder Jill Moss on 07860879079 or BMF media manager Emma Cooper on 07787512427.

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