Antimicrobial usage and resistance in companion animals: A cross-sectional study in three european countries

Philip Joosten*, Daniela Ceccarelli, Evelien Odent, Steven Sarrazin, Haitske Graveland, Liese Van Gompel, Antonio Battisti, Andrea Caprioli, Alessia Franco, Jaap A. Wagenaar, Dik Mevius, Jeroen Dewulf

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


Companion animals have been described as potential reservoirs of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), however data remain scarce. Therefore, the objectives were to describe antimicrobial usage (AMU) in dogs and cats in three European countries (Belgium, Italy, and The Netherlands) and to investigate phenotypic AMR. A questionnaire and one fecal sample per animal (n = 303) were collected over one year and AMU was quantified using treatment incidence (TI). Phenotypic resistance profiles of 282 Escherichia coli isolates were determined. Nineteen percent of the animals received at least one antimicrobial treatment six months preceding sampling. On average, cats and dogs were treated with a standard daily dose of antimicrobials for 1.8 and 3.3 days over one year, respectively. The most frequently used antimicrobial was amoxicillin-clavulanate (27%). Broad-spectrum antimicrobials and critically important antimicrobials for human medicine represented 83% and 71% of the total number of treatments, respectively. Resistance of E. coli to at least one antimicrobial agent was found in 27% of the isolates. The most common resistance was to ampicillin (18%). Thirteen percent was identified as multidrug resistant isolates. No association between AMU and AMR was found in the investigated samples. The issue to address, regarding AMU in companion animal, lies within the quality of use, not the quantity. Especially from a One-Health perspective, companion animals might be a source of transmission of resistance genes and/or resistant bacteria to humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article number87
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Antimicrobial use
  • Colistin resistance
  • Companion animals
  • Critically important antimicrobials
  • One health


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