Survey shows growing awareness of the benefits of veterinary medicines

A survey across the UK and seven other European countries, which asked people about the use of veterinary medicines for the treatment and prevention of diseases in pets and farm animals, has found good awareness of the benefits of medicines for animal health and welfare.

The survey, commissioned by NOAH’s European animal health association, AnimalhealthEurope, also found that some people were not aware of the strict rules already governing the authorisation and use of veterinary medicines.

Most people agreed on the importance of vaccination for animals on farms. In the UK, 79% of those asked agreed farm animals should be vaccinated regularly, and 87% agreed that for farm animal disease, prevention is better than cure. Furthermore, 65% said regular vaccination can help to reduce the need to use veterinary antibiotics on farms.

Benefits recognised included:

  • 73% believed veterinary medicines have a positive impact on the welfare of farm animals;
  • 76% believed the vaccination of farm animals helps to prevent diseases being transferred to people;
  • 80% believed that healthy farm animals enable farmers to produce and supply food in a sustainable manner; and
  • 84% believed healthy farm animals will produce better quality products.

For pets, preventive care was also seen as important, with 81% agreeing pets should be vaccinated regularly; 83% agreed that pets should be checked by a vet regularly (at least once per year); and 88% believed it is important to regularly use tick and flea prevention when keeping a pet.

There were some areas where knowledge on the rules and regulations on the use of veterinary medicines was limited.

For example, 55% were unaware that use of hormones as growth promoters in farming has been banned in the UK since the 1980s, with 61% not aware that antibiotics have been similarly banned for growth promotion purposes since 2006.

NOAH chief executive Dawn Howard said: “We are delighted to see great support for our UK farmers and vets in this survey, with 83% agreeing farmers care for the health and welfare of their animals.

“We are also encouraged by the recognition of the positive contribution of veterinary medicines to our lives, and the role healthy animals play in sustainable UK farming. Prevention is truly better than cure and this year in particular has shown the importance of vaccination.

“Where misunderstandings and concerns do exist, such as around the use of antibiotics to treat farm animals, we will continue to help address these and help explain the strict regulations that govern the authorisation of all animal medicines and the work we all do to support their responsible use.”

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