What to Expect from Your Veterinarian

When you seek the services of a veterinarian, you can expect to receive safe, ethical, quality care from a qualified professional who is licensed with the College of Veterinarians of Ontario.

Every veterinarian practising in Ontario must meet the College’s requirements for entry into the profession. The College’s programs and standards support quality and safety in the delivery of veterinary medicine.

Veterinarians are accountable to the College for the quality of care they provide and for their professional conduct. Only individuals who are licensed with the College are able to call themselves veterinarians and practice veterinary medicine in Ontario.

Finding a Veterinarian

Information regarding an individual veterinarian and a veterinary facility can be found on the Public Register.

Your Relationship with Your Veterinarian 

The Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) is the foundation of effective veterinary medicine and animal care.

This relationship is focused on the well-being of the animal, or group of animals, with each of the parties sharing responsibilities and enjoying benefits. The VCPR represents a formal long-term relationship between you (the client) and the veterinarian centered around your animal(s).

The VCPR is a conversation, not a consent form.

Effective communication is a central aspect of the successful delivery of veterinary medicine. As a responsible animal owner, the client has peace of mind when he/she has confidence in the veterinarian’s advice and recommendations. The veterinarian needs to have sufficient and recent knowledge of the animal, or group of animals, to provide a diagnosis, medications, and a treatment plan. The veterinarian presents options, the course and cost of treatment, and the expectations for outcome to help ensure the client fully understands the issues and accepts the advice provided.

With a strong Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship, the animal(s) benefits as the recipient of competent care and appropriate medications and treatment. In order for a veterinarian to prescribe and dispense medications for an animal, the veterinarian must have sufficient and recent working knowledge of the animal, obtained through an examination. This examination helps to protect the animal from adverse drug reactions. Details of the animal’s findings in the examination are documented in the medical record which follows the animal throughout his/her life.

Ensure you and your veterinarian have a strong relationship – it’s the responsible thing to do!

In an established relationship with your veterinarian:

  • Your veterinarian knows the client and has sufficient and recent working knowledge of the animal
  • You have confidence in your veterinarian’s advice and recommendations

The animal benefits from competent care and appropriate medication and treatment

Questions to ask a Veterinarian

  1. How long have you been practising as a veterinarian?
  2. Will you be my pet’s primary veterinarian? How many other veterinarians work with you?
  3. What are your clinic’s hours/days of operation? What is your recommendation if my pet needs veterinary care outside of those hours?
  4. How many people are on your team? Are there any people on your team who have had formal education in an animal health care field?
  5. What other services are offered by your clinic? Do you have any special interests?
  6. If you recommend that my pet is seen by a specialist, how do we make that decision? Can I come back to you after?
  7. How do you involve me when establishing a medical approach to care for my pet?
  8. How do you educate me so that I can understand what is happening with my pet, your recommendations and how to make an informed decision about my animal’s care?
  9. What steps do you take to help me understand the health care costs for my pet and the options that are available to me?
  10. How can I contact you when I have a non-urgent question about my pets’ care?

Use of the term “specialist” in veterinary medicine

A veterinarian in Ontario, who is referred to as a specialist, must be Board-certified in a specialty recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). To describe oneself as a specialist, when one is not, is considered professional misconduct.

The term specialist is reserved for specialists who are certified by a recognized veterinary specialty organization approved by the AVMA. To find a specialist, visit Find a Veterinarian and the options are available under “specialty”.