Vaccinations key for keeping pets healthy and reducing antimicrobial use

Published Wednesday 19 October 2022

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) is urging pet owners to check their animals are fully vaccinated, in a bid to keep them healthy and reduce the need for antimicrobial treatments including antibiotics and antifungal medication.

Vaccinations help prevent animals from becoming ill and needing antimicrobial therapy. These medicines increase the risk of drug-resistant bacteria developing and spreading to other animals and their owners, veterinary pharmacologist Dr Oliver Reeve says.

“Reducing antimicrobial use as much as possible is key to preventing nasty bacteria from becoming resistant, so that when you really do need to use antibiotics, they work,” he says.

“Unlike us, animals can’t wash their hands if they get sick, which puts people and other pets at risk of getting sick too. Up-to-date vaccinations are key to keeping our animals and each other, healthy and well.”

Dr Reeve is a member of the NZVA’s Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Committee and says although New Zealand is the third lowest user of antimicrobials for animal treatment in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), more needs to be done to stop drug-resistant bacteria from developing.

“We can do better. Reducing how often we use antimicrobials is important for animal health, as well as our own. Being up-to-date with vaccinations is a big part of achieving that.”

“Whether your animal whānau consists of a cat or dog, or sheep and cattle, vaccinations are beneficial to all of them. If you’re unsure of your animals’ vaccination status, please talk to your vet,” he says.