Note: The AVMA has endorsed these guidelines developed by the American Association of Equine Practitioners.
The health and welfare of horses and their owners is the primary goal of members of the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). We believe that these guidelines merely reiterate the standard of practice and what is common in equine veterinary medicine. The AAEP provides continuing education for veterinarians that focuses on the appropriate use of antimicrobial drugs. Our members are committed to the practice of preventive immune system management through the use of vaccines, parasiticides, stress reduction, and proper nutritional management. The AAEP recognizes that proper and timely management practices can reduce the incidence of disease and therefore reduce the need for antimicrobials; however, antimicrobials remain a necessary tool to manage infectious disease in horses. In order to reduce animal pain and suffering, prudent use of antimicrobials is encouraged. The following are general guidelines for the prudent therapeutic use of antimicrobials in horses:
The veterinarian's primary responsibility is to aid in the design of management, immunization, housing, and nutrition programs that will reduce the incidence of disease and the need for antimicrobials.
Antimicrobials should be used only within the confines of a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship; this includes both dispensing and issuance of prescriptions.
- Veterinarians should:
- Participate in continuing education programs that include therapeutics and emerging and/or development of antimicrobial resistance.
- Avoid antimicrobial use in transient virus associated conditions.
- Have clinical evidence of the identification of the pathogen associated with the disease based upon history, clinical signs, laboratory data, and experience.
- Select antimicrobials that are appropriate for the target organism and should be administered at a dosage and route that are likely to achieve effective levels in the target organ.
- Make product choices and use regimens that are based on available laboratory and package insert information, additional data in the literature, and consideration of the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic aspects of the drug.
- Use products that have the narrowest spectrum of activity and known efficacy in vivo and/or in vitro against the pathogen causing the disease problem.
- Utilize antimicrobials at a dosage appropriate for the condition treated for as short a period of time as reasonable, i.e., therapy should be discontinued when it is apparent that the immune system can manage the disease, reduce pathogen shedding, and minimize recurrence of clinical disease or development of the carrier state.
- Select antimicrobials of lesser importance in human medicine in preference to newer generation drugs that may be in the same class if this can be achieved while protecting the health and safety of the animals.
- Utilize antimicrobials labeled for treating the condition diagnosed, and whenever possible, at the labeled dose, route, frequency, and duration if the available scientific information still supports their efficacy.
- Utilize antimicrobials on an extra-label basis only within the provisions contained within Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act amendments to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and its regulations.
- When appropriate, utilize local therapy over systemic therapy.
- Be discouraged from using combination antimicrobial therapy unless there is information to show an increase in efficacy or suppression of resistance development for the target organism.
- Protect integrity through proper handling, storage, and observation of the expiration date.
Veterinarians should endeavor to ensure proper on-farm drug use.
Prescription or dispensed drug quantities should be appropriate so that stockpiling of antimicrobials on the farm is avoided.