OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to analyse antimicrobial prescriptions by veterinarians and to evaluate the appropriateness of use compared with prudent use guidelines. PRACTICES AND METHODS: Computerized records of prescriptions and treatments from eight mixed veterinary practices were analysed over a period of 2 years. A total of 61 212 antimicrobial treatments were recorded. Treatments were classified according to animal species treated, indication for treatment, route of administration and antimicrobial class used. For each treatment and antimicrobial substance, the prescribed dose was calculated. Dosage, antimicrobial classes and combinations of different classes used for different indications were compared with published recommendations. RESULTS: From the total amount of 1590 kg of active antimicrobial substance, sulphonamides (594 kg), tetracyclines (335 kg), and penicillins and cephalosporins (290 kg) were the classes of which the largest quantity was prescribed. Penicillins and cephalosporins were most frequently prescribed (37% of treatments), followed by aminoglycosides (18%), tetracyclines (14%) and sulphonamides (11%). Sixty-one per cent of the amount of antimicrobials prescribed was used for the treatment of groups of animals via feed or water. Antimicrobial classes classified as highest priority for human medicine by an international group of experts were used in 9% of the prescriptions. The dosage corresponded to the manufacturer's recommendation in 45% of the analysed prescriptions.