Antimicrobial use in veterinary practice

Antimicrobial stewardship and judicious use

Judicious therapeutic use of antimicrobials is critically important regardless of your patient's species. Proper antimicrobial use optimizes therapeutic efficacy, enhances treatment success, and minimizes resistance to antimicrobials. Antimicrobial resistance threatens animal health and welfare, food production, and public health, and can impact the results of biomedical research. Veterinarians have a unique and important role in helping protect antimicrobial effectiveness. AVMA supports veterinarians in this role with educational materials and policies outlining principles for antimicrobial stewardship and judicious use.

Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) and GFI 263

Before the federal Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) took effect, medically important antibiotics could be—and were—administered to food animals for production purposes such as growth promotion and feed efficiency. Adding veterinary oversight of the use of medically important antibiotics in food animals ensures that these antimicrobials are only used when medically necessary to protect the health of an animal. Learn more about the Veterinary Feed Directive, and use AVMA tools to help write VFDs when they're needed.

Further combatting antimicrobial resistance, federal guidance for the industry #263 (GFI 263) outlines the process for animal drug sponsors to voluntarily change the approved marketing status of certain medically important antimicrobial drugs from over-the-counter (OTC) to prescription (Rx) by June 2023. Once transitioned to Rx, these drugs can only be used in animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, even if the animals are not intended for food production. Learn more about GFI 263 and how it protects people and animals.

Tools for your veterinary clinic

These resources can help you communicate the importance of judicious antimicrobial use to clients and your community. Posters and brochures provide clear, concise information for clients, and other materials help with more in-depth conversations.

resources for the veterinary team
Client education materials

Guidance by species

Veterinarians use professional expertise and discretion in making clinical decisions based on factors unique to each patient, client, or veterinary practice. The following resources should not be interpreted as establishing standards of care. Variations may be warranted based on factors unique to the patient, client, or veterinary practice.



Companion animal




Small ruminants


Other resources