The new RUMA Companion Animal and Equine Group will initially focus on encouraging efforts to promote responsible antibiotic use.
Steve Howard, head of clinical services at the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals and secretary general of the new group, said: "RUMA has spearheaded successful efforts to steward antibiotic use in farmed animals over the past five years, and we would like to see whether its principles can augment the considerable progress that’s already been made in the companion animal and equine sectors.
"The most notable of RUMA’s initiatives is the Targets Task Force, which has seen leading vets and farmers from each species working together with industry groups to develop meaningful goals for reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use.
"Through establishing such proactive approaches towards antibiotic stewardship in companion animals and equines, we hope to optimise their health and welfare – as well as that of humans and the environment."
RUMA says that although total antibiotic sales are significantly lower for companion animals compared with the farming sector, even relatively low use can result in resistance to key medicines if good stewardship principles are not applied.
The collaboration will cover use of medicines in dogs, cats, rabbits, small mammals, exotic animals kept as pets, and equids. The aim is for the UK to lead the way in these sectors through evidence-based and measurable activities that will promote and enhance stewardship.
Gwyn Jones, chair of the new group (pictured right), said: "As a collaborative group we need to establish evidence-based protocols for reducing, replacing or refining antibiotic use in companion animals, to further help preserve and prolong the use of these vital tools for human and animal health.
“Efforts will be focused towards identifiable goals so that progress can be monitored and demonstrated. But we will also promote practical, practice-level resources, guidance and measures aimed at driving positive behaviour changes and protecting patients and practitioners alike."
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