AVMA's antimicrobial commitment

Lead & Learn

​Veterinarians and the AVMA promote antimicrobial stewardship

Antimicrobial resistance poses a growing health risk for animals and people. Veterinarians have a responsibility to help preserve antimicrobial effectiveness while providing optimal care for our animal patients. This means good stewardship must be top-of-mind in every veterinary practice. Working with and on behalf of our member veterinarians, the AVMA has taken important steps to help the veterinary profession prevent the spread of antimicrobial resistance.

To increase awareness and continue to address growing concerns about antimicrobial resistance, we convened the AVMA Task Force on Antimicrobial Stewardship in Companion Animal Practice. Its 2016 report recommended several strategies to help the veterinary profession combat the serious threat of antimicrobial resistance. Based partly on the task force’s recommendations, the AVMA Board of Directors convened a standing Committee on Antimicrobials, whose members developed the veterinary profession’s Definition of Antimicrobial Stewardship and Core Principles of Antimicrobial Stewardship in Veterinary Medicine. Their adoption in 2018 by the AVMA House of Delegates was an important step in AVMA’s commitment to provide resources and tools to help veterinarians support conscientious decision-making in the use of antimicrobials. The core principles include:

  • A clearly stated commitment by veterinarians to stewardship
  • Support for systems of care that include a multi-pronged approach to preventing common diseases
  • Judicious selection and use of antimicrobial drugs
  • Ongoing evaluation of the efficacy of antimicrobial drug-use practices
  • A commitment to professional education research that expands the veterinary profession’s knowledge base and supports good decision-making

The Committee on Antimicrobials oversees AVMA’s policies related to antimicrobials and is made up of individuals representing a diverse array of veterinary organizational, species, and practice experience. With its advice, the AVMA continues to work on the critical issues of antimicrobial use and resistance for the betterment of animal and public health though a variety of activities. These include:

Antimicrobials and One Health

A One Health approach that recognizes the interconnections between animal and human health is needed to effectively mitigate the development of antimicrobial resistance. Therefore, the AVMA collaborates with stakeholders across human and veterinary medicine to advance antimicrobial stewardship and judicious use of antibiotics, thus protecting animal and public health. For example, the AVMA issued a joint statement with the American Academy of Pediatrics on the value of professional collaboration in protecting the health of people and animals, highlighting a shared responsibility between physicians and veterinarians for the judicious use of antimicrobials and combatting antimicrobial resistance.

A collaborative approach is needed in part because antimicrobial resistance has impacts across public health, animal health, and environmental health. Development of antimicrobial resistance in organisms that infect animals may compromise the effectiveness of antimicrobial therapy for animal diseases and make them harder to treat. Hard-to-treat animal diseases could mean higher mortality rates, which affects food production and the amount of resources needed to produce enough food to feed the world.