Antibiotic use in small animal practice

Journal club resource:

Antibiotic use in small animal practice

del Solar Bravo, R.E. et al. (2023) Antibiotic therapy in dogs and cats in general practise in the United Kingdom before referral Journal of Small Animal Practice, 64 (8), pp 499-06.

[Access for RCVS Knowledge Library members]

Tompson, A.C. et al. (2020). What drives antimicrobial prescribing for companion animals? A mixed-methods study of UK veterinary clinics. Preventive Veterinary Medicine, 183, no. 105117.

[Access for RCVS Knowledge Library members]

In most cases a journal club meets to discuss a single paper. However, there are occasions when it may be appropriate to look at two or more papers, to provide different perspectives on the same subject or to fill knowledge gaps.

The resources below help you to consider the findings from two papers relating to antibiotic use in small animal practice, and to think about whether the findings have any relevance to your own practice.


The first paper (del Solar Bravo et al. 2023) looks at the prescription of antibiotics to dogs and cats prior to referral to the Oncology and Internal Medicine departments of two UK referral hospitals and analyses the data to see whether the BSAVA/SAMSoc PROTECT and PROTECT ME Guidelines had been followed.

Although this is an important topic, and the paper raises legitimate concerns about the appropriateness of the antibiotic use in some of these cases, critical appraisal of the paper identifies a number of limitation including the completeness of the clinical records analysed and whether the results of this study can be generalised to other situations.  The summary of this paper published in the June 2023 edition of inFOCUS concluded that further research is needed to establish whether the results can be generalised to other situations and to understand the reasons for these discrepancies.

We have therefore also selected a second paper (Tompson et al. 2020) that may help to address these questions and provide additional evidence relating to antibiotic use in small animal practice. This paper analyses data from two separate sources in order to provide evidence on the variation in prescription of Highest Priority Critically important antibiotics (HPCIAs) in dogs attending UK clinics and how the organisational structure of companion animal practice influences antimicrobial use.

Support with assessing the relevance of these papers

We have produced a guide that you can use to work through these papers as a practice.  For those less confident in assessing published papers there is a partially completed guide.

For those new to journal clubs, we have a step-by-step guide you might find useful: Setting up and running a journal club

Additional Resources

  • Companion Animal and Equine [RCVS Knowledge Learn] [Online]. Available from: [Accessed 20 July 2023]
    This course is designed to help you refresh your knowledge in areas of antibiotic use in companion animal and equine veterinary medicine and to support you to improve your antimicrobial stewardship.
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