Guidelines for Appropriate
Use of Antimicrobials


Use products in accordance with the SPC – Use of products off licence should only
be undertaken following consideration of the risk/benefit analysis and should be done
in accordance with the cascade.


Use narrow spectrum antimicrobials where possible – knowledge of the type
of organism, or ideally species, present will help to target antimicrobial therapy. See
the “Antimicrobial Classes” section for information on the spectrum of activity
of different commonly used antimicrobials.


Use the correct dose and frequency, for the correct duration of treatment.
Animals should always be weighed to allow accurate dosing. Always consider which
PK/PD parameters are important for optimum effect. Click here to find out more
about choosing an antimicrobial.
 Make sure owners fully understand the instructions
given to them.


Avoid prophylaxis where possible although it may be necessary in individuals suffering from immunosuppression or for certain surgical procedures. For surgical prophylaxis, treatment should be initiated before induction of anaesthesia, should target likely contaminants and should not continue beyond the surgical procedure. Short procedures and elective procedures in healthy animals do not need prophylactic antimicrobials. If problems are occurring when prophylactic antimicrobials are not used, a full review of surgical asepsis should be undertaken.


Use other treatment options where possible such as topical treatment, or lavage and debridement (this may also be used to increase effectiveness of an antimicrobial).


Institute practice based guidelines for empirical therapy. Ideally this should be based on knowledge of resistance trends within the practice, and these should be monitored and guidelines updated where necessary.


Take care with inappropriate prescribing and avoid being influenced by owner expectations. Do not use trial treatment with antimicrobials as a diagnostic tool.


Exercise caution when using antimicrobials that are important for treating resistant infections in human and veterinary medicine. For example, these products could be reserved for second line treatment or for when culture and sensitivity results indicate their use. These antimicrobials include fluoroquinolones, 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins, macrolides and glycopeptides.2  Click here to visit our section on antimicrobial resistance.


Report treatment failures as this is important in monitoring for the development of antimicrobial resistance. Treatment failures would include conditions for which the product was licensed, or where culture and sensitivity indicated it should have been effective.




Disclaimer:  Indications and doses may vary between products.  The antimicrobials listed may constitute an off licence use of the product and as such should only be used according to the ‘Cascade’, further details of which are available on the RCVS, VMD and NOAH websites.  Veterinary surgeons are advised to carefully check the Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) before prescribing a product and obtain informed owner consent where required.