Antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance

In this article:
  • Learn about veterinarians’ role in ensuring continued antimicrobial effectiveness.
  • Find definitions of antimicrobials and antimicrobial resistance.
  • Get practical resources to use in your daily practice.
  • Access AVMA policies related to antimicrobial use and resistance.

The discovery of antimicrobial products—and their use to fight infection and disease—were among the most significant medical advances of the 20th century. Antimicrobials are powerful tools in the life-and-death fight against disease, and they provide life-saving support for animals and people worldwide.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Antimicrobials must be used appropriately and responsibly—it's called judicious use. This is critical to preserve their effectiveness, protect animal and public health, and protect our safe food supply. That means:

  • Using antimicrobials only when they are needed to treat an animal's medical condition
  • Making sure the specific antimicrobial product used is the most appropriate one for that purpose
  • Administering the correct dose, with the correct frequency and duration, by an appropriate route—in feed, in water, by injection, or another way

Veterinarians are leaders and stewards in preserving the effectiveness of antimicrobials. We work conscientiously with antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs, safeguarding their continued effectiveness in both human and veterinary medicine while ensuring high-quality medical care for our animal patients.

two hands with microscope

Antimicrobial-resistant pathogens affecting animal health

The AVMA has worked with experts to identify bacteria affecting multiple animal species for which there is evidence of antimicrobial resistance. The resulting report, Antimicrobial Resistant Pathogens Affecting Animal Health in the U.S., can assist veterinarians and others in their antimicrobial stewardship efforts.

Access the report


AVMA antimicrobial policies

Explore AVMA’s wide range of policies related to the use of antimicrobials in veterinary medicine, from guidelines on judicious therapeutic use to the definition of antimicrobial stewardship.

View all antimicrobial policies