Information for veterinarians and veterinary staff

The urgent need to address antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is receiving attention nationally in Australia and globally, driving a One Health approach to the problem.

Consumer awareness of AMR is poor, but veterinarians are in a unique position to improve this for animal owners and farmers.

Antimicrobial prescribing by veterinarians is a privilege. As a matter of professional conduct, all antimicrobial use must be appropriate.

Appropriate antimicrobial use is essential for good animal health and welfare outcomes now and in the future.

Use the right drug, at the right dose, for the right amount of time, informed by local prescribing guidelines, plus culture and sensitivity testing.

Prophylactic use of antimicrobials is not a substitute for good management and hygiene.

Through following simple guidelines veterinarians, and their clients, can become Antibiotic Guardians.

Watch the Antimicrobial resistance video on YouTube.

Become an Antibiotic Guardian!

Sign up online and take a pledge to do your part to reduce the likelihood of encouraging and spreading antibiotic resistance. Communicate your commitment on social media and through your practice to staff, clients, family and friends.

Watch the Antibiotic Guardian video on YouTube.

Become an Antibiotic Guardian.

What practical tools can I use to educate clients?

Agriculture Victoria materials

Agriculture Victoria has developed and produced educational resources as part of its 'Not All Bugs Need Drugs' antibiotic resistance initiative that you can use to educate clients. These include waiting room posters, consult room posters, information sheets that can be provided to clients to explain the rationale for prescribing or not prescribing antimicrobials and flipbooks, posters and pocket guides for vets outlining current prescribing guidelines.

Waiting room poster

What is it? An A3 sized poster for waiting or consult rooms.

Why do I need it? The intention of this item is to educate clients that antibiotics may not be prescribed.

MRSP (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius) poster

What is it? An A4 poster for reception or consult rooms

Why do I need it? The intention of this item is to educate clients and veterinary staff regarding MRSP.

Prescribing guidelines posters – Equine and dogs and cats

What is it? An A2-sized poster for your practice to provide guidelines with space for your clinic to develop and document antibiotic use protocols. This was developed by the University of Melbourne.

Why do I need it? It provides an excellent and practical resource for your clinic and its commitment to antimicrobial stewardship. The file is designed to be printed at A2 size, so you may need to have it printed by a suitable printer, or alternatively we can post one to you.

Medicated feed order poster

What is it? An A4 poster to display in common areas for veterinary staff

Why do I need it? It provides an easy-to-read infographic highlighting the important aspects of completing a medicated feed order form.

Flipbooks: Prescribing guidelines – cattle and horses and dogs and cats

What are they? An A5-sized flipbook providing prescribing guidelines for cattle and horses and a separate flipbook for dogs and cats. These were developed by the University of Melbourne.

Why do I need them? Designed as a portable flipbook for you on the move, this is a practical resource to guide you in the use of antibiotics. The file is designed to be printed as an A5 booklet, and we can send you a copy of the large animal flipbook.

Prescribing guidelines – Equine pocket guide

What is it? A DL-envelope-sized, folded pocket guide providing prescribing guidelines for horses.

Why do I need it? Designed as a waterproof, foldable leaflet with a hard backing, this is a great resource for vets on the move. An A4 version is provided below for your convenience, alternately, please email animal.biosecurity@agriculture.vic.gov.au and we will post you a copy.

Client information sheets for small animals and clinics

What are they? A5 pad sized information sheets with points to discuss as to why antibiotics have or have not been prescribed. This has been designed to be printed as an A5 pad of 50 tear-off sheets and we can send you a copy.

Why do I need them? The intention of this is to provide a quick reference resource for vets to discuss with clients the treatment that has been provided to their animals. It can be used as a checklist and a reminder for clients to take away.

Client information sheets for large animals

What are they? DL sized card with points to discuss as to why antibiotics have or have not been prescribed. These cover the same content as the small animal sheets but are printed double sided on more rigid card.

Why do I need them? The intention of this is to provide a quick reference resource for vets to discuss with clients the treatment that has been provided to their animals. It can be used as a checklist and a reminder for clients to take away.

Why antibiotics were prescribed

Why antibiotics were not prescribed

Antibiotic use cards

What are they? A5 sized cards that set out the first, second and third line antibiotics that you should consider when prescribing antibiotics for dog/cats, horses, sheep or cattle. These are based on the Australian Strategic and Technical Advisory Group on AMR (ASTAG) classification of antimicrobials and have been developed in conjunction with the University of Melbourne. Printed on a matte laminated card they are robust and can be used as a prompt to communicate with clients, or placed in dispensaries, etc. We can also supply a copy of these cards with an optional magnet backing.

Note that the cattle and sheep cards list only registered antibiotics and does not include those only registered as topical or intramammary preparations.

Why do I need them? The intention of these is to provide a prompt for prescribing vets and for discussions with clients.

Cats and dogs

Cattle

Chickens

Horses

Pigs

Sheep

Stickers

What are they? A6 sheets of stickers for clients, practices and children based on the 'Not All Bugs Need Drugs' logo and the Antibiotic Guardian initiative.

Why do I need them? Who doesn’t love stickers?

Flyers

What are they? A4 sized flyers promoting the 'Not All Bugs Need Drugs' antibiotic resistance initiative and the Antibiotic Guardian initiative.

Why do I need them? Clear succinct posters for you waiting rooms or to include in practice newsletters.

Antibiotic Guardian

Not all bugs need drugs

Not all bugs need drugs A4

Lapel pins

What are they? Lapel pins (20 mm diameter) depicting the Antibiotic Guardian branding.

Why do I need them? Make the pledge online and distribute to members of practice staff as a talking point for interactions with clients. Give some to clients who have made the pledge.

Agriculture Victoria promoted these materials to practitioners at the 2019 Australian Veterinary Association Conference. Practitioners wishing to utilise the materials can either download and print the PDF versions or contact Agriculture Victoria for pre-printed materials which will be posted out. Please email animal.biosecurity@ecodev.vic.gov.au to let us know what items you would like, and quantity.

Promote the Antibiotic Guardian pledge

Encourage clients to take and active pledge to become and Antibiotic Guardian.

Livestock and horse owner materials

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations provides 10 practical tips that farmers can follow.

Where can I learn more?

Agriculture Victoria has developed educational and refresher materials including for vets and veterinary staff that provide a good overview of the issues and practical actions that practitioners can take.

What is Australia doing to tackle the problem?

National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy

In 2015, the Australian government released Australia’s First National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy 2015–2019 (the 2015 Strategy) bringing the medical, veterinary, consumer, government and agricultural sectors together to coordinate responses to antimicrobial resistant infections.

Since then, the 2015 Strategy was complemented by an Implementation Plan and Progress Report for the first two years and in March 2020 Australia’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy – 2020 and Beyond (the 2020 Strategy) was released.

The 2020 Strategy builds on the original 2015 Strategy, broadening its scope to encompass food, the environment and other classes of antimicrobials, such as antifungals and antivirals. It sets a 20-year vision to protect the health of humans, animals and the environment through minimising the development and spread of AMR while continuing to have effective antimicrobials available.

The 2020 Strategy has seven main objectives:

  1. Clear governance for AMR initiatives.
  2. Prevention and control of infection and the spread of resistance.
  3. Greater engagement in the combat against resistance.
  4. Appropriate usage and stewardship practices.
  5. Integrated surveillance and response to resistance and usage.
  6. A strong collaborative research agenda across all sectors.
  7. Strengthen global collaboration and partnerships.

The Antimicrobial Resistance Governance Group (ARGG), which includes the membership of the Australian Government Chief Medical Officer and the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, will provide a shared national coordination of the Strategy and linkage between sectors.

These documents are available at the National AMR Strategy website.

Livestock industry sectors

Australian livestock industries have developed and published a Antimicrobial Stewardship in Australian Livestock Industries document that addresses actions that are underway or planned in the pork, poultry, red meat and dairy sectors. The document outlines the policy towards and use of antimicrobials in these sectors.

World Antibiotic Awareness Week

In November each year, the World Health Organisation promotes World Antibiotic Awareness Week, including providing educational materials to pet owners.

The week is also promoted in Australia by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Visit these websites for more information and for details of activities happening in your area, to download resources and for suggestions to follow on social media for regular updates.

The video below contains more information about the causes and effects of antibiotic resistant infections in humans, which are applicable to animals and pets too.

Watch the Antimicrobial resistance in Australia video on YouTube.

What is happening globally to tackle the problem?

Antibiotic resistant infections are an international challenge. No country can address this serious threat alone.

The World Health Organisation, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations have formed a tripartite alliance to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistant infections amongst human, animal and plant health sectors.

Watch the Working together towards responsible Antimicrobial use video on YouTube.

Globally, industry and vets are increasingly recognise the importance of tackling antibiotic resistance and the FAO has videos that show case studies from around the globe, for example:

UK vets and farmers working together

Watch the AMR in the UK: Vets and farmers working together video on YouTube.

More information

Page last updated: 21 Nov 2022