Press Releases

Effective December 1, 2018 a Veterinary Prescription Will Be Needed to Use Medically Important Antibiotics in Animals

November 1, 2017

November 1, 2017 - The Canadian Animal Health Institute (CAHI) is reminding farmers, feed mills and veterinarians that as of December 1, 2018 a veterinary prescription will be needed to use medically important antimicrobials (antibiotics).  This change is a result of regulatory and policy changes made by Health Canada to promote the responsible use of antimicrobials in animals.

Many of the chemical classes of antimicrobial drugs, or antibiotics, used in animals are also used in humans.  Medically important antimicrobials are essential for the treatment of serious and life-threatening infections. If these drugs become ineffective due to the development of bacterial resistance, alternative antimicrobials may not be available.  Drugs with limited or no alternatives for the treatment of human infections are considered more important than others.


Preferred choice for serious human infections

No or limited alternatives available

I – Very High Importance



II – High Importance



III – Medium Importance



IV – Low Importance

Not applicable

Not applicable

Source: Veterinary Drugs Directorate, Health Canada

A veterinary prescription will be needed to use Category I, II and III antimicrobials. These drugs will no longer be available for purchase at livestock medicines outlets, co-operatives, or other places where over-the-counter animal medications are sold. In addition, from November 13, 2017 on these antimicrobials can no longer be imported for own use. Medically important antimicrobials will only be available, with a veterinary prescription, from a veterinarian, pharmacist or as a mixed medicated feed from a feed mill.

In recognition of the importance of antimicrobials for animal health and welfare, and the need ensure these important tools remain effective, the manufacturers of veterinary drugs are voluntarily removing growth promotion claims on their antimicrobial products.  Further, a voluntary logo will be included on labels to remind users of the importance of responsible use.

CAHI is the trade association representing the manufacturers and distributors of animal health products in Canada. CAHI members provide Canada’s veterinarians and animal owners with the animal health products necessary to maintain the health of our pets and food animal population.  More on CAHI, and the changes regarding veterinary antimicrobial use, can be found on our website at:

Colleen McElwain
(519) 763-7777

- 30 -