Background: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing public health problem across the world. As the negative consequences of AMR become apparent at local, national and international levels, more attention is being focussed on the variety of mechanisms by which AMR is potentiated. We explore how interactions between pet owners and veterinarians represent a key arena in which AMR-related behaviours can be shaped. Methods: In depth semi-structured interviews were carried out with pet owners (n=23) and vets (n=16) across the UK in 2017. A thematic analysis approach was taken, with inductively gathered data analysed deductively using a behavioural framework to identified key behaviours emerging from participant accounts which were amenable to change. Results: Interactions between vets and pet owners were characterised by misunderstandings and misconceptions around antibiotics by pet owners, and a lack of clarity about the positions and intentions of the other party. Vets and pet owners had differing perceptions of where pressure to prescribe antibiotics inappropriately originated. Vets perceived it was mostly pet owners who pushed for inappropriate antibiotics, whereas pet owners reported they felt it was vets that overprescribed. Low levels of understanding of AMR in general were apparent amongst pet owners and understandings with regard to AMR in pets specifically were almost non-existent in the sample. Conclusions: Improved use of antibiotics could be assisted by educating the pet owning public and by guideline development for companion animal vets, concurrent development of mandatory legislation, increased consultation time to facilitate better communication, development of vet training on antimicrobial therapy and stewardship led interactions with pet owners, and increased levels of knowledge of pet-related AMR amongst pet owners.
- antibiotic resistance