Safeguarding antibiotics

Why do we need to keep antibiotics working?

Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria mutate and adapt to reduce the effects of antibiotics. Antibiotics can also affect ‘good bacteria’ and cause harm.

New antibiotic drugs are not easy to develop, so we need to preserve the efficiency of the drugs we have. Antibacterial resistance is a global One Health concern for People, Planet and Pets; there are implications from antibiotic overuse for human and animal health and welfare, for climate change and for biodiversity.

Antibiotics are only effective against some types of bacterial infections and will not work against viral infections. Following your veterinary surgeons’ advice on medication is essential to ensure long-term access to antibiotics that work for us and our pets.

What is the veterinary sector doing?

Through ongoing efforts in the veterinary and agricultural sectors, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate reported a reduction in antibiotics in food-producing animals in the UK of 52%, and in dogs and cats of 23%, over the six years between 2014 and 2020.

There are many organisations actively involved in antibiotic stewardship and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has collated resources for veterinary professionals in its RCVS Knowledge AMR hub.

What is our practice doing?

Our practices recognise the importance of antibiotic stewardship, and our veterinary professionals are active in responsible pharmaceutical stewardship programmes. Our small animal veterinary teams use BSAVA PROTECT posters to guide antibiotic choices. In 2022, our vets are using audits and team discussions to implement best practice guidelines created by our Linnaeus Clinical Board experts for treatment of acute canine uncomplicated diarrhoea.

In 2021, we released a series of Safeguarding Antibiotics posters and videos to explain antimicrobial resistance and what our vets and owners can do to support antibiotic stewardship.

What can owners do?

Fergus Allerton, our Linnaeus Antibiotics Expert, has created a short educational animation, which was part of a research project demonstrating significant changes in owner’s attitudes after watching the video – you can view it below to understand your role as an antibiotic steward.

For World Antimicrobial Awareness Week in November 2022, our veterinary practices will be joining with NHS pharmacies and other veterinary groups to encourage owners to return unused or out-of-date antibiotics for appropriate disposal. All medicines prescribed for humans can be returned to your local NHS pharmacy.

Look out for non-prescription pads that our small animal veterinary teams use to help our clients understand antibiotic stewardship. If your pet is not improving after your visit to see the veterinary surgeon, if new symptoms are observed or if you have further concerns, we always encourage you to call or visit the practice.

For more information about Linnaeus Safeguarding Antibiotics actions, please visit