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OBJECTIVE To explore owners’ knowledge of and experiences with antimicrobial treatment of their pets and their perceptions of veterinarian-led antimicrobial stewardship initiatives.

DESIGN Cross-sectional study.

SAMPLE 25 pet owners visiting 1 of 3 clinic types (tertiary care, general practice, or low cost) in the greater Philadelphia area.

PROCEDURES Semistructured interviews were conducted with pet owners to gather responses related to the study objectives. Responses were transcribed and analyzed by means of conventional content analysis.

RESULTS Although participants were mostly unfamiliar with the mechanisms of antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance, they generally understood what constituted the inappropriate use of antimicrobials. Few pet owners appeared concerned about the risk of antimicrobial resistance, and no owners were concerned that antimicrobials used for people were also used for pets. Overall, pet owners reported closely following veterinarians’ directions when administering antimicrobials at home, and the main reasons for not following directions included difficulty administering the medication and concern about overmedicating the pet. Most (21/25 [84%]) pet owners expressed trust in their veterinarian to meet their pets’ medical needs and prescribe antimicrobials appropriately. However, in situations when it was unclear whether antimicrobials would be effective, most owners nevertheless wanted their pet to receive them. Initiatives to promote the judicious use of antimicrobials, such as microbial culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing and formal stewardship programs, were generally well received and appreciated by owners.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Considerable opportunity was identified to leverage the trust that exists between veterinarians and pet owners to promote the judicious use of antimicrobials for pets.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association