The AAFP/AAHA Position Statement

Antimicrobial stewardship, as defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), refers to the actions veterinarians take individually and as a profession to preserve the effectiveness and availability of antimicrobial drugs through conscientious oversight and responsible medical decision-making, while safeguarding animal, public, and environmental health. Stewardship involves:

  • Preventing common diseases through preventive and management strategies.
  • Using evidence-based approaches to make decisions about antimicrobial drugs.
  • Using antimicrobial drugs judiciously and sparingly while evaluating therapeutic outcomes.1

The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) endorse this definition and urge companion animal veterinarians to follow the five core principles of antimicrobial stewardship as defined by the AVMA: commit to stewardship, advocate for a system of care to prevent common diseases, select and use antimicrobial drugs judiciously, evaluate antimicrobial drug use practices, and educate and build expertise.2

Veterinarians agree to protect animal and public health when they pledge the Veterinarian’s Oath. It is the responsibility of veterinarians to maintain patient health by routine examinations, preventive strategies, and client education. When a medical condition exists, it is important to obtain an accurate clinical diagnosis whenever possible, including determining the likelihood of a bacterial infection that warrants antimicrobial use. Once the decision is made to use antimicrobial therapy, veterinarians should strive to optimize therapeutic efficacy, minimize resistance to antimicrobials, and protect public and animal health.

AAHA and the AAFP are committed to the following as described by the AVMA’s policy, Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials.3

*IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. and Zoetis generously supported the development of the 2022 AAFP/AAHA Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines and resources through an educational grant to AAHA.