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Information for the Public

What to Expect from Your Veterinarian

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 practise 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 in practice?
  2. Do you have any areas of special interest? Are you a specialist?
  3. What are your clinic's hours? Do you offer after-hours emergency care? If not, which local emergency hospitals do you refer to?
  4. Do you have an animal health care team? Who does it consist of?
  5. How do you normally involve the owner when establishing an approach to treatment?
  6. How do you provide client education?
  7. How to you help me understand the costs of care for my animal(s)?
  8. Do you have access to specialists? Do you feel comfortable referring cases to a specialist if the owner requests a referral?
  9. What other services are offered by your clinic?
  10. How should I contact you (phone, text, or email) with questions that are not urgent?

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”.

Your Relationship with your Veterinarian

The Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship is the foundation of effective veterinary medicine and animal care. Review the poster to learn more!



The VCPR benefits all veterinarians, animal owners, pets, livestock, horses, and you!

The VCPR video depicts an overview of the relationship veterinarians have with their clients and the benefits of that relationship. Watch the video to learn more!