AAHA, AAFP publish joint guidelines on antimicrobial stewardship

Published: 30 August 2022


Recognizing the role of veterinary teams in helping keep antimicrobial resistance at bay, the American Animal Hospital Association and the American Association of Feline Practitioners announced in July that they have published their joint recommendations for antimicrobial stewardship.

The 2022 AAFP/AAHA Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines for companion animal practice “are designed to aid practicing veterinarians in choosing appropriate antimicrobial therapy to best serve their patients and minimize the development of antimicrobial resistance and other adverse effects,” according to the introduction to the guidelines.

Infographic: 2022 AAFP/AAHA Antimicrobial Stewardship Guidelines

“This effort is critical to ensure we continue to have drugs that are effective against bacterial infections,” said Dr. Erin Frey, chair of the guidelines task force and an assistant research professor at North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, in the July announcement. “Bacterial pathogens will always find ways to resist antibiotics, but overuse of antibiotics or using them when it’s not necessary expedites this process, ultimately leaving us with bacteria that are impervious to treatment. The result is a scenario in which we don’t have the tools to treat life-threatening bacterial infections because the available antibiotics are no longer effective.”

In keeping with the AVMA policy “Judicious Therapeutic Use of Antimicrobials,” some of the top tenets of the guidelines from the AAFP and AAHA are as follows:

  • Practice good preventive medicine, monitor health routinely, and keep vaccinations updated.
  • Teach clients about good animal care practices and hygiene.
  • Use other alternatives to oral antimicrobials such as bathing, sprays, or ointments.
  • Consider watchful waiting to observe whether a condition truly needs antimicrobials or whether patients can clear it on their own.
  • Use diagnostic testing to determine if an infection is bacterial and would respond to antimicrobials.

The new guidelines and related resources are available here.


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