A questionnaire was sent to 2951 mixed and small animal veterinary practices to examine the use of perioperative antimicrobials in cats and dogs in the UK. The percentage of respondents who always used antimicrobials in two surgical procedures classified according to NRC criteria as ‘clean’ was 25.3 per cent for removal of a 1 cm cutaneous mass and 32.1 per cent for routine prescrotal castration. Factors considered important in decision-making about when to use antimicrobial agents included immunosuppression, presence of a drain, degree of wound contamination, potential for spillage of visceral contents and implantation of prosthesis. The most common antimicrobial agents mentioned were potentiated amoxicillin (98.0 per cent), amoxicillin (60.5 per cent), clindamycin (21.8 per cent), enrofloxacin (21.7 per cent), cephalexin (18.6 per cent) and metronidazole (12.7 per cent). Forty-three per cent of all responding veterinarians listed a long-acting preparation for perioperative use. The routes used were subcutaneous (76.1 per cent), intravenous (25.8 per cent), intramuscular (19.8 per cent), oral (13.5 per cent) and topical (7.7 per cent). Antimicrobials were given before surgery (66.6 per cent), during surgery (30.2 per cent), immediately after surgery (12.0 per cent) and after surgery (6.3 per cent). This survey has identified the suboptimal use of perioperative antimicrobials in small animal surgery with improvements needed with respect to timing, duration, choice of antimicrobial and a more prudent selection of surgical cases requiring prophylaxis.
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