U.K. study shows most veterinarians highly concerned about antibiotic resistance

Veterinarians in the U.K. are overwhelmingly concerned about antibiotic resistance and its implications for their ability to treat patients, according to a new Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey released by the British Veterinary Association (BVA).

The survey, completed by 752 BVA members, showed that 91 percent of small-animal veterinarians in the U.K. are worried that antimicrobial resistance could eventually limit their ability to treat infections in pets. In addition, 78 percent said they are concerned that antimicrobial resistance could be detrimental to their efforts to control post-surgical infections.

Other statistics contained in the survey of small-animal veterinarians include:

  • Nine out of 10 veterinarians said they are concerned about antimicrobial resistance, with a third describing themselves as very concerned.
  • Seventy-two percent cited poor owner compliance (e.g., not making sure a pet finishes a course of antibiotics or using antibiotics prescribed for a different patient than prescribed) as a main driver for antimicrobial resistance.
  • 89 percent said they had been pressured by clients to prescribe drugs to their pets, with 36 percent saying this happened often.
  • Eighty-two percent said their clients are not very aware or completely aware of antimicrobial resistance.

With the survey results revealing an obvious need to address the issue of antimicrobial resistance, BVA President John Blackwell, MRCVS, issued an in-depth statement about the need for veterinarians to work together with pet owners to combat the threat.

"The depth of our members' concerns highlights the need for every one of us to do the right thing and take responsibility for combating antimicrobial resistance for the good of both human and animal health," Blackwell said. "This means owners working with vets and understanding that in some circumstances antibiotics may not be required to treat their pets.

"We need pet owners to help us. Just as people are ever more aware that they should not go to the doctor's surgery with the expectation that 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."

Additional reading

Visit the AVMA website for a well-rounded collection of resources and information about antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance.

Read two previous NEWStat articles to learn more about research currently being conducted regarding antimicrobial resistance: