Antibiotic resistance the focus of new government campaign

IT’S safe to say antibiotics are one of the greatest medical inventions of the 20th century for both pets and people.

But their widespread use has resulted in the evolution of new strains of immune bacteria — otherwise known as superbugs. Studies have shown pets are increasingly at risk of these drug-resistant infections. And concerns have also been raised over dogs passing on superbugs to their owners.

Now antimicrobial resistance, to give it its technical title, has been chosen as the focal point of a government campaign aimed at encouraging pet owners to accept vet advice that antibiotics might not always be the remedy.

It follows a new survey by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) that found almost 90% of vets said clients came to appointments with an expectation they will provide antibiotics for their pets.

Nearly 70% of vets also said they feel their clients are not aware of the gravity of the issue of antimicrobial resistance.

"We all want to take care of our pets which is why it’s important to remember that antibiotics are not always the best treatment. If that’s what your vet says — trust your vet."

Christine Middlemiss Chief Veterinary Officer
What can you do to help?

Here is a checklist — produced by the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe — of six things pet owners can do to help slow the spread of drug-resistant bacteria such as MRSA.

  1. It goes without saying, but try to keep your pet as healthy as possible. Feed them a balanced diet, make sure they’re up to date with vaccinations and always seek urgent treatment in the event of an emergency.
  2. Never try to treat your pet yourself — especially using human medicines — and never re-use antibiotics prescribed for a previous condition.
  3. Bear in mind that your vet may need to carry out a diagnostic test to determine which antibiotic to use.
  4. Antibiotics aren’t always the answer so please don’t demand them if your vet says they’re not needed.
  5. Always give your pet the right dosage as this will help cure the infection and keep the bacteria from discovering new ways of being resistant to the antibiotic.
  6. Some of these superbugs can spread between animals and people — often through touch — so wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.

According to the latest figures, there are an estimated 21 million pets in the UK, with 8.5 million dogs, 8 million cats and 900,000 rabbits being among the most popular.

If you have any concerns about antibiotic resistance, you should speak to your vet. Vets are the experts on these issues and will work with you to ensure you, and your pet, stay healthy and happy.

Vets Now is open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night and on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s premises have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.