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Jurisprudence Exam

The College's jurisprudence exam requires applicants to demonstrate knowledge of and the ability to apply relevant Ontario legislation and regulations, as well as College standards and guidelines.

2018 Annual Report

The College's 2018 Annual Report discusses the College's priorities and accomplishments throughout the year.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The College provides answers to the most common inquiries.

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Practice Advice

Animal Ownership: Two owners are listed in my patient’s file. If one owner requests that the other owner be removed from the file, what should a veterinarian do?

In order to remove an owner from a patient’s file, consent must be obtained from the individual whose name is being removed from the file. Alternatively legal direction, such as a court order, may be provided to allow you to remove an owner from the file. The change to the medical record must then be made in such a way that original content is maintained.

Dispensing: Can a veterinarian dispense a medication, other than a controlled substance, that has been prescribed by another veterinarian who works at a different clinic?

No; however, there are some narrowly defined exemptions in Regulation 1093 that allow a veterinarian to dispense to another veterinarian’s patient (individual animal or herd). These are outlined in section 33 (1.1) of Ontario Regulation 1093 of the Veterinarians Act:

  1. it is not reasonably possible for the client to obtain the drug from the prescribing member or a pharmacy;
  2. it is necessary in the interests of the animal to administer or dispense the drug without the delay that would be associated with returning to the prescribing member;
  3. the member makes a reasonable effort to discuss the matter with the prescribing member;
  4. the member conducts a sufficient assessment of the animal’s circumstances, which may not require a physical examination in every case, to ascertain that it is unlikely that there has been a material change in the circumstances since the prescription was given;
  5. the quantity of the drug dispensed is no more than would reasonably enable the client to return to the prescribing member for future prescriptions or quantities of the drug; and
  6. the member makes a written record of the transaction as otherwise required by this Regulation.

Dispensing: Can a veterinarian dispense a controlled substance that has been prescribed by another veterinarian who works at a different clinic?

No; the College regulations only allow a member to dispense controlled substances to animals that are under their direct care. Clients do have the option of having the prescription filled by a pharmacist. (RRO 1990, Reg. 1093, s 28. (6))

Medical Records and Information: If a client declines to pay the fee to obtain a copy of their animal’s medical record, how can the veterinarian meet their obligation to provide the medical record to their colleague who is now treating the animal?

Veterinarians are allowed to charge a reasonable fee to recover the cost of making a copy of a patient’s medical record. Materials, staff time, and courier/postage fees are examples of these costs. How that fee is dealt with will be up to the parties involved. In a situation where the client or veterinarian has refused to pay for a complete copy of a record, a veterinarian is still obligated to provide relevant medical record information to a colleague. This information can be given verbally or as a written summary. The best interest of the patient and their continuity of care necessitate the timely and accurate transfer of medical information between colleagues. Patient information or a copy of the patient record should be transferred within two business days (or sooner) when a request for the information is made.

Medical Records and Information: Can a veterinary clinic maintain logs electronically?

Logs can be maintained in a paper based or electronic format (the clinic does not need to maintain both).  Regardless of format, all requirements are to be recorded. With electronic logs (as with all electronic medical records), there must be the ability to print the logs if required.

Medical Records and Information: How long does a veterinary clinic have to keep medical records?

Medical records are kept for a minimum of five years after the date of the last entry made.  Radiographs and logs are considered to be part of a patient’s medical records and therefore, need to kept until the patient record can be removed from the clinic’s files (not based on the date the radiograph was taken or the log entry was made).

Medical Records and Information: Is a veterinarian required to provide a client with a copy of their animal’s medical record?

Yes, veterinarians are required to provide either a copy or a summary of the medical record to a client upon request. The physical copy of the medical record is the property of the veterinary clinic but the information contained in the record belongs to the client and the client has the right to access the content of their animal’s medical record.  A veterinarian is allowed to recover reasonable costs for producing copies of medical records.

Medical Records and Information: When a veterinarian prescribes a drug for a client’s animal, can the client ask them to write a prescription instead of purchasing the medication from the veterinary practice?

Yes, a client may request that a medication their veterinarian has prescribed for their animal be  dispensed at a pharmacy of their choice. Veterinarians will make a written prescription and may charge a prescribing fee.

Medical Records and Information: When ownership of an animal changes and the new owner requests medical records that were created at the time that the animal was owned by the previous owner, is consent from the previous owner required?

Yes, the medical record information belongs to the owner and the previous owner’s consent must be obtained before that information can be provided to the new owner.

Ownership: How can a veterinarian avoid potential ownership challenges and ensure that ownership is clear in the medical records documentation?

The name, address, and contact information of the owner(s) should be documented.
Contact information should be updated on a regular basis.
In situations with multiple owners, each owner should be recorded (name, address, and contact information). A veterinarian should take care to ensure that his or her medical record files are clear with respect to who is and who is not an owner. An agent is a person who has received the authority to act on behalf of the owner and whose decisions bind the owner as though he or she were themselves making the decisions. Authorized agents of the owner(s) should also be clearly documented, including their contact details. A veterinarian should also document what kinds of decisions the agent has been authorized to make, both medical and financial, by the owner. Simply adding a name under “spouse” “other” or even “emergency contact” may cause confusion. It is also prudent to clarify whether an individual is an emergency contact for a specified time period, and whether an emergency contact is also an authorized agent.

Ownership: Two owners are listed in a patient’s file. If one owner requests that the other owner be removed from the file, what should a veterinarian do?

In order to remove an owner from a patient’s file, consent must be obtained from the individual whose name is being removed from the file. Alternatively, legal direction, such as a court order, may be provided to allow you to remove an owner from the file. The change to the medical record must then be made in such a way that original content is maintained.

Ownership: Where ownership of an animal is not clear, should a veterinarian decline treatment?

Where a veterinarian believes that ownership of an animal is unclear or where there is a dispute over ownership, they can decline treatment until evidence of ownership is presented (which may include a signed statement from the individual stating that they are the sole owner), unless the veterinarian determines that there is an emergency and treatment is necessary to prevent an animal’s suffering.

Prescribing and Dispensing: Can a client purchase medication for their animal outside of Canada or from an online supplier?

Yes; however, clients should be aware that products obtained outside of Canada are not subject to the same regulated approval process as drugs approved by Health Canada/Veterinary Drugs Directorate. Clients should research the online supplier before making a purchase to decide whether or not they wish to assume that risk.

The College regulates the practice of veterinary medicine in Ontario, including the issuance of prescriptions and the dispensing of drugs, but the regulation of pharmacies – in Ontario or elsewhere – is not within the jurisdiction of the College or its licensed veterinarians.

See Health Canada's web page on Buying Drugs over the Internet. While its content refers to purchasing drugs for human use over the Internet, some of the information will be useful for animal owners.

Prescribing: Why does a veterinarian require that an animal be examined before prescribing or dispensing medication for the animal? Is it necessary and should the veterinarian charge for the exam?

A veterinarian must have recent and sufficient knowledge of a patient to provide a diagnosis and recommend treatment such as prescribing medication. In certain situations, an examination of the animal before prescribing medication may be necessary as, without an exam, the animal may be put at risk of harm.  It is up to the veterinarian’s professional judgement to determine if an exam is necessary.

Veterinarians must meet their professional obligations.  How they charge for services to meet these obligations is up to the individual practice’s business model. 

VCPR: Are veterinarians allowed to sell therapeutic diets to non-clients??

A valid Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (VCPR) must exist before any treatment product, whether prescription or not, is dispensed. References for this are found in Regulation 1093 and the Professional Practice Standard on the VCPR. Having said that, food is exempted from the definition of “drug” in the Regulations so technically, a veterinarian can sell therapeutic diets to someone who is not a client.

Before therapeutic diets are sold to non-clients, the potential risks to this group of animals should be assessed. Therapeutic diets used in the treatment of specific disease conditions that are fed to an animal without that particular condition can potentially put that animal’s health at risk. For these situations, it would be best for a veterinary clinic to either call the regular clinic for verification and/or discuss further with the non-client before selling that product. For other therapeutic diets, (e.g. a maintenance type diet), selling directly to a non-client without consulting with their regular veterinarian/veterinary clinic is low risk.

VCPR: Are veterinary clinics allowed to discontinue providing veterinary services to a client and their animal(s)?

In certain situations, a VCPR may need to be terminated, despite attempts to address concerns.  In the interests of optimal animal care, termination of the VCPR may be the most productive option for both the client and the veterinarian. The client must be provided with proper notice of the termination and allowed a reasonable opportunity to arrange for care with another veterinarian. The steps to follow to officially terminate a VCPR and no longer be professionally obligated to provide care to a client/patient(s) can be found in the Guide to the Professional Practice Standard: Veterinarian-Client-Patient Relationship (including a template letter).

Cannabis & CBD Oil for Animals

Cannabis: Before advising on the use of a legal recreational cannabis product, what does a veterinarian need to know?

It is important that veterinarians recognize that these products are not indicated for animal use; they are not drugs and do not make health claims. There is little scientific evidence to support the use of cannabis in animals, including safety and efficacy. THC in cannabis has known toxic effects in pets and symptoms of toxicity can be severe. Veterinarians are accountable for any professional advice they provide to a client about their pet.

Cannabis: Can veterinarians prescribe cannabis for medical purposes?

No, a veterinarian cannot prescribe cannabis for medical purposes for their animal patients. Under the Cannabis Act, cannabis for medical purposes applies to humans only. Human healthcare practitioners provide an authorization to their patients to be able to access cannabis for medical purposes.

Under the Cannabis Act, drugs with cannabis are a legal pathway for access to cannabis for animals. All phytocannabinoids, the naturally occurring active ingredients in cannabis plants, have been placed on the Prescription Drug List and, therefore, they are subject to the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations as well. This includes cannabidiol (CBD). There are currently no approved CBD drugs for animals, meaning there is no legal pathway to obtain these products for animals in Canada.

The other legal pathway of access to cannabis products for animals are veterinary health products (VHP) containing hemp. Currently, there are hemp products for certain animal species that are available and approved by Health Canada under the Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR). Veterinary health products are low-risk substances that are used to maintain or promote the health and welfare of animals. The IHR excludes hemp seed derivatives (e.g., hemp seed oil) and products made from those derivatives from the application of the Cannabis Act if they contain less than 10 ppm THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

A veterinarian interested in the use of cannabis in animals needs to stay informed of the rapidly changing environment related to cannabis.

Cannabis: How can a veterinarian determine if a cannabis product is legal or not?

Veterinarians should not advise on the use of any illegal substance, including cannabis sold on the black market or unapproved cannabinoid products. 

The only approved cannabis products for animals available in Canada at this time are veterinary health products made from hemp. These products: 

  • Are distinguished from illegal cannabis products for animals by a notification number assigned by Health Canada;
  • Have no concentrated cannabinoids, including CBD; 
  • Do not make health claims; 
  • Are listed on Health Canada’s website;
  • Are regulated by the Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR); and
  • Are sold at retail.

Legally purchased recreational cannabis from authorized provincial retail sales outlets can be distinguished from black market cannabis by its packaging. Legal products:

  • Are packaged and labelled according to strict rules set by Health Canada;
  • Have packaging with a CRA excise stamp on it;
  • Do not make health claims;
  • Do not have an indication for animal use; and
  • Undergo quality control to ensure, among other things, that concentrations of CBD and THC that are indicated on the label are accurate, and free of specified contaminants (e.g. certain pesticides)

Cannabis: If a client buys a CBD product for their animal and asks a veterinarian to provide a dose for their pet, can a veterinarian do so?

The pathway for access to CBD products for animals under the Cannabis Act will be Health Canada approved veterinary drugs and these will have a drug identification number (DIN). Currently, there are no approved veterinary drugs with CBD. If it is determined that the product the client has is not approved, the veterinarian may inform the client of this and indicate that the product’s safety and efficacy are unknown. The product has not gone through the proper legal pathways to be approved by Health Canada. The current evidence on safe dosages for CBD for animals is limited. There are ongoing studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of CBD and cannabis-based products for animals.

Cannabis: If a client legally accesses cannabis for their own use, and asks their veterinarian if they can use it for their animal, can a veterinarian provide a dose for the client to give to their pet?

The Cannabis Act will allow adults to possess and access regulated, quality-controlled legal cannabis. There are two pathways for access: cannabis for medical purposes and cannabis for non-medical purposes (recreational use). It is important to recognize that the cannabis products for medical and recreational purposes include dried and fresh marijuana and cannabis oil, which are not intended for animal use. The safety and efficacy of these products in animals is unknown. There is also limited research on the use of these types of products in animals. Pet owners who have cannabis for medical or recreational purposes should prevent their pets from accidentally ingesting these products due to the risk of poisoning.

Cannabis: If a veterinarian chooses to advise on the use of recreational cannabis that their client has obtained legally through the provincial sales outlets, what are their obligations?

If a veterinarian chooses to advise on a legal recreational cannabis product for their client’s pet, they must: 
o Practice within the scope of their clinical competency;
o Weigh the evidence on cannabis against other available treatment options;
o Consider the known or suspected risks associated with its use in animals;
o Obtain informed client consent;
o Monitor patients and be available in the event of an adverse reaction or failure of treatment; and
o Be aware of the potential for abuse, diversion and misuse of cannabis.

Cannabis: What can veterinarians discuss with their clients about cannabis and animals?

Veterinarians are an important resource for public education about animal health. They can educate clients about the risks of cannabis to animals and stay informed about cannabis products that Health Canada has approved for use in animals. Currently, there are no approved drugs with cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) for animals. There are veterinary health products (VHP) with hemp that are approved for sale in Canada; these are low risk substances used to maintain or promote the health and welfare of animals and do not make health claims. VHPs can contain ingredients such as hemp seed derivatives containing no more than 10 ppm THC, which will be exempt from the Cannabis Act. These products can be identified by a notification number on the label.

Pet owners should be aware of unapproved products being marketed to consumers. If a cannabis product does not have a drug identification number (DIN) or a notification number (VHP) then its safety and efficacy cannot be verified. The public should also be cautioned to keep any cannabis for human use away from pets due to the risk of poisoning if their pet accidentally ingests it.

Cannabis: What cannabis products can a veterinarian legally advise on?

Under the Cannabis Act, veterinarians are permitted to prescribe and dispense drugs with cannabinoids; however, there are currently no veterinary drugs available on the market. Veterinarians may recommend and sell veterinary health products with hemp that are approved through Health Canada’s Notification Program. Veterinarians may advise clients on the use of legally available recreational cannabis for their pets based on sound professional judgment.

Prescribing: Can veterinarians prescribe cannabis for medical purposes?

No, a veterinarian cannot prescribe cannabis for medical purposes for their animal patients. Under the Cannabis Act, cannabis for medical purposes applies to humans only. Human healthcare practitioners provide an authorization to their patients to be able to access cannabis for medical purposes.

Under the Cannabis Act, drugs with cannabis are a legal pathway for access to cannabis for animals. All phytocannabinoids, the naturally occurring active ingredients in cannabis plants, have been placed on the Prescription Drug List and, therefore, they are subject to the Food and Drugs Act and Regulations as well. This includes cannabidiol (CBD). There are currently no approved CBD drugs for animals, meaning there is no legal pathway to obtain these products for animals in Canada.

The other legal pathway of access to cannabis products for animals are veterinary health products (VHP) containing hemp. Currently, there are hemp products for certain animal species that are available and approved by Health Canada under the Industrial Hemp Regulations (IHR). Veterinary health products are low-risk substances that are used to maintain or promote the health and welfare of animals. The IHR excludes hemp seed derivatives (e.g., hemp seed oil) and products made from those derivatives from the application of the Cannabis Act if they contain less than 10 ppm THC, which is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

A veterinarian interested in the use of cannabis in animals needs to stay informed of the rapidly changing environment related to cannabis.

Complaints Process

Can information gathered by the College be used in Court?

According to the legislation, no one who works at the College can be summoned to a civil court case.

Can the Complaints Committee’s decision be appealed?

Either party can appeal the decision through the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board in all cases except for the Committee's decision to refer the matter to the Discipline Committee.

How are complaints addressed?

The member is notified of the complaint in writing and provided with a copy. The individual filing the complaint receives a summary of the complaint for verification. The member then receives a list of issues and is asked to submit a written explanation, pertinent medical records, x-rays, logs, etc. to the College. The complainant receives a copy of the member’s full response and is provided with an opportunity to respond.

How does the complaints process begin?

Letters of complaint are reviewed by College staff and, for appropriate cases, attempts may be made to resolve the concerns through the Mediated Resolutions Program. If those efforts are unsuccessful or not appropriate, the matter is directed to the Complaints Committee and the College staff begins the Complaints process.

What are the possible outcomes?

Possible decisions include:

  • The Committee has no concerns with the member’s actions or conduct and will take no further action.
  • The Committee has some concerns with the member’s actions or conduct which it feels can be addressed through re-education and/or advice.
  • The Committee has very serious concerns and has referred the case for a hearing of the Discipline Committee.
  • The complaint was frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith or otherwise an abuse of process.

Who is on the Complaints Committee?

As a self-regulated profession, the Complaints Committee consists of up to 10 members, including nine veterinarians and one public member who is appointed by the provincial government. To review complaints, usually five or six members of the committee meet as a panel.

Licensure

How are veterinarians licensed in emergency situations?

Under the Licensure of Veterinarians in Emergency Situations Policy Statement, the Registrar is authorized to carry out the following actions pertaining to application for licensure made in response to a declared emergency:

  1. to issue and, where necessary, renew a short-term licence to veterinarians who are directed by a federal or provincial government body to perform specific veterinary services solely for the short-term, special purpose of dealing with the specified emergency situation.
  2. to waive application and licensure fees;
  3. to accept, as the nature of the emergency warrants, the Chief Veterinarian of Ontario or of Canada as the supervising veterinarian of short-term licensees, waiving the requirement for an undertaking to be signed by both parties;
  4. to waive the documentation requirement to have letters of standing sent from other jurisdictions, instead confirming that the applicant holds active licensure in good standing through direct communication with the regulator of the originating jurisdiction.

Registration Steps:

Applicant is to complete and submit the application for licensure
The Chief Veterinarian of Ontario or Canada submits a letter to the College detailing the request, including the following information:

  • the type of work to be performed and the reasons why this work will be performed
  • the dates (if known) that the applicant will be in Ontario

College staff to obtain verification from the regulator of the originating jurisdiction to verify licence number and to check professional standing.

How do I notify the College that I am now a board certified specialist?

The Public Register identifies all members who are specialists (those who hold certification with one of the American Board of Veterinary Specialists). To add this information to the Public Register, please contact the College so the designation can be verified either by viewing the original board certification or a notarized copy.

How do I renew my licence with the College?

Licensed members can expect to receive their Annual Licence Renewal information early in October. The deadline for the annual licence renewal is November 30th each year for submission of information and fees.

How do I request access to my record or to information that the College has related to me?

Licensed members can request access to their records by submitting a written request, with contact information and information to identify themselves, to the Registrar, College of Veterinarians of Ontario at inquiries@cvo.org or by regular mail to 2106 Gordon Street, Guelph, Ontario N1L 1G6.

How do I update my work information and/or home address?

If your address changes, you are required to notify the College in writing within 30 days of any change. The College must have your current home address, all practice addresses and email address on file. Only your primary practice will appear on the Public Register. To submit an address change, please login into the Professional Practice Portal.

How is access to records or information provided?

A licensed members is permitted to review the file in person at the College office, or copies can be sent to her/him, as appropriate. Occasionally, licensed members request that certain documents in their file be forwarded to another licensing body, and responses to those requests are honoured (within 1-2 days) at no charge. Please visit the College's Privacy Code for further details.

How long does the College retain licensed member records?

The College’s Retention Schedule specifies that licensed member records be kept indefinitely in an electronic format.  

How long is an application valid?

An application and supporting documentation are valid for one year, once submitted. Each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and the Registrar retains the right to seek resubmission of any outdated materials. The need for resubmission of application materials is determined by the applicant’s current activities. If an applicant is asked to resubmit any part of an application, the application fee will not be charged again.

If I don’t hold an active licence with the College can I still refer to myself as a veterinarian?

If you hold a current valid licence with the College, you can use the prefix Dr. and use the official title of veterinarian. If you do not hold a current valid licence with the College, you are able to use the post-nominal letters earned with the degree in veterinary medicine that was awarded to you (ex. DVM, BVSc).

What are the fees for licensure in Ontario?

Please refer to the Licence Fees page.

What are the licensing requirements for a graduate of an acceptable unaccredited school?

If an applicant for licensure is a graduate of acceptable but unaccredited school, they are required to pass the three National Board Examinations (the BCSE, the NAVLE and the CPE) to be considered for a General Licence. The College provides internationally trained veterinarians with the opportunity to acquire practical experience working under the supervision of a General licence-holding member, before they have passed the CPE.

What are the licensing requirements for a graduate of an AVMA-COE accredited school?

If you graduated from an “accredited” veterinary school, you will need to take the NAVLE and pass it on your first or second attempt; if you do not pass it in two attempts, you will have to take the CPE once you have passed the NAVLE as well.

What are the National Board Examinations?

The National Board Examinations consist of up to three examinations that measures entry-level competence in the theory and practise of veterinary medicine in a North American context. They are:

  • the Basic and Clinical Sciences Examination (BCSE)
  • the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE)
  • the Clinical Proficiency Examination (CPE)

How many examinations you will be required to pass depends on whether or not the school where you earned your basic veterinary medicine degree has been accredited by the AVMA-COE.

What duties can I perform as a veterinary medicine new graduate before I am licensed by the College?

Once a student has completed the curriculum of the OVC undergraduate program he/she must obtain a licence with the College prior to practising veterinary medicine or holding themselves out as a veterinarian including the use of the titles Dr. or veterinarian. Until the licence is issued, that new graduate may only work as an auxiliary. 

What duties can I perform while I am studying to obtain my veterinary degree at the Ontario Veterinary College?

The Veterinarians Act specifically exempts undergraduate students enrolled in the DVM program at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) of the University of Guelph from the need to be licensed with the College while engaging in the undergraduate curriculum of studies. The provision permits these students to participate actively in externships and other clinical activities under the immediate or direct supervision of a CVO licensed veterinarian, both on campus during coursework and in clinical practice placements when placed in an elective rotation or in an externship. Students must be identified to clients as student learners.

A first year veterinary student is considered to be an ‘auxiliary’ and is restricted to only performing procedures which can be delegated to auxiliaries. An auxiliary cannot perform major surgery including castrations, declawing and dental extractions.

After a student completes their third year, he/she can participate in the externship program at the OVC which permits the performance of surgery under immediate supervision.

If a student is volunteering or working at a clinic outside of their DVM program – then they are restricted to acting as an auxiliary and cannot practise veterinary medicine. 

When can I refer to myself as a specialist?

From time to time, the term specialist gets defined in practice differently than intended. A veterinarian in Ontario cannot use the term specialist unless he or she is Board-certified in a specialty recognized by the 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. Stating one “has a specialty in…” is considered to be claiming specialist status. The same applies to the use of discipline-specific specialty terms such as radiologist, surgeon, and pathologist.

Different than a specialty designation, a veterinarian who has a practice focus in a specific area is able to communicate this focus by stating they have

  • an interest in ...
  • additional education in ...
  • a specific focus on ...

Public clarity in advertising and communication is essential. The public deserves to make an informed choice in all circumstances related to their animal(s)

Where do I find a listing of acceptable unaccredited schools?

You can find this list on the AVMA website.

Which schools are accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association – Council on Education (AVMA-COE)?

You can find this list on the AVMA website.

Why would access to my records be limited or refused?

An access to records request would rarely be limited or refused. This may occur when something in the record is considered to be a safety risk to the licensed member or another person if released. Legal advice specific to an application is, however, privileged, and would likely not be released to the licensed member.

Advertising

Can a client “like” a veterinary practice’s Facebook page?

Yes. This is not considered a testimonial as long as the veterinarian has not solicited the client to do so. When a veterinary practice advertises promotions on their Facebook page, but only provides the promotion to people who like their page, they are using an incentive to gain a positive review, which is like a testimonial. This is prohibited. 

Can a clinic let their clients know about a product promotion?

Yes.  If a clinic stocks a particular company’s foods, for example, the clinic can let their clients know if this company is offering any discounts on price, coupon rebates, or promotions such as “buy one get one free”. 

Can a non-veterinary business hand out a veterinarian’s business card/ or a clinic’s pamphlet?

Yes, if this is not a steering arrangement. Steering is a prohibited activity whereby a person is systematically referred or directed to a particular veterinarian or veterinary practice by another individual or organization, and where the direction is made for a reason other than the genuine belief that the receiving veterinarian or practice is being recommended for specialized skill, knowledge or expertise, and has the effect of restricting a person’s choice of veterinarian based on criteria of importance to him/her.  For more information on steering, please see the College’s policy document.

Veterinarians are not allowed to endorse another business. A veterinary clinic would not be allowed to hand out another company’s card/pamphlet to market or advertise on the company’s behalf; however, in the context of a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR), using information provided by a third-party company for the purpose of client education (for example, when discussing recommendations for patient care, or providing information about the products the clinic stocks) would be permitted.

Can a veterinarian advertise a $1 exam?

Yes. The College does not make policy related to business models or fee structures. Veterinarians who own practices determine the fees and charges for their services. Advertised prices should not be deceptive or misleading. As with all fees, clients need to be informed about what the $1 exam does and does not provide.

Can a veterinarian advertise his/her services are better than another?

When advertising their practice, veterinarians cannot use comparisons to, or statements of superiority over, another practice/veterinarian, for example, “the best in town” or as “delivering the most compassionate care”. Such comparators are not usually verifiable.  

Can a veterinarian advertise in the “Welcome Wagon” or Realtor welcome package?

Before advertising in the “Welcome Wagon” or similar community welcome package, a veterinarian should ensure the opportunity to advertise was offered to multiple businesses and the advertising is not exclusive to that veterinary practice, since this can be seen as an endorsement or promotion of that practice.

Can a veterinarian advertise prices?

Yes, prices can be advertised. When advertising prices, be clear as to what is included in the price cited.  Also indicate if any taxes will be additional or if they are included. As with all advertising, fees cannot be misleading. 

Discounts can also be advertised.  For example, if a veterinary clinic is promoting dental health month, dental cleanings can be advertised as being X% discounted. Seniors, military, multiple pet, new client discounts can all be advertised as well if that is part of the veterinary facility’s fee structure.

Can a veterinarian advertise that he/she specializes in a specific service, like dentistry?

In order to use the terms “specialize” or “specialist”, the veterinary facility must have a veterinarian on staff who holds a certificate of specialization from the CVMA and/or the AVMA. It is acceptable to advertise that a veterinarian has "an interest" in dentistry.

Can a veterinarian advertise?

Yes, veterinarians can advertise the professional and ancillary services they provide. Changes to Regulation 1093 allow for veterinarians to market their services to members of the public in order to improve the viability of their practices. Advertising by veterinarians should convey professionalism as it can affect the public perception of, and respect for, the entire profession of veterinary medicine. See the standard on Professionalism in Advertising for more information.

Can a veterinarian ask clients to rate him/her on a review or third party website?

No. Veterinarians cannot ask individuals to rate them or provide a review on a third party website as this is soliciting testimonials. If a client, of his/her own choice, writes a review on a third party website about a veterinary clinic and his/her experiences there, they are free to do so. The College has no regulatory authority over third party websites. Clinic websites should not have links to third party review websites. See the document on Testimonials for more information.

Can a veterinarian be involved in an endorsement?

No. Veterinarians cannot endorse specific products, brands of products, brand-name drugs or third-party service providers. For example, a veterinarian could not participate in a print ad campaign where he/she gives a testimonial about a product or service such as “I use product X on my own horses because it is the best on the market”.

Veterinarians can advertise the products they stock at their clinic on the clinic website. This is not considered an endorsement, unless the descriptors used make it such. This lets clients know what products and services are provided by the veterinary facility. For example, advertising that “our clinic stocks item A” is fine. Advertising that “our clinic stocks item A because it is the best” is not appropriate as this would be seen as an endorsement.

Can a veterinarian offer rewards programs for services and products?

Rewards programs can be used. Clinics can participate in third party rewards programs so that clients can use their points cards for example.

Veterinary facilities can also offer their own rewards programs for clients. For example, if a certain number of bags of food are purchased, they will get a free bag. Or perhaps if clients spend a certain amount of money, they will reach a free service or a discount on a future invoice. Rewards programs cannot be used to promote new client referrals.

Can a veterinarian post photos of client’s pets or share case stories of a client's patients on his/her clinic's website or social media platforms?

Before posting pictures or case stories of patients, a veterinarian needs to get the client’s consent. If a veterinarian is obtaining client consent to share an animal’s case story, be sure the client understands and agrees to what information will be shared. Written or verbal consent from clients is appropriate. If a veterinarian chooses to get verbal consent, it should be documented that consent was obtained. Posting pet photos or case stories on a clinic's website or social media should not be used as testimonials.

Can a veterinarian thank a client if he/she finds out the client referred a new client to the clinic?

Yes. If a client, of their own accord, speaks highly of the clinic to family and friends and this results in a new client, a veterinarian can thank them. A thank you can be verbal or a card/letter can be sent. If you wish to show your appreciation for the referral by giving a gift card, or a discount on services or products, that is fine too. This scenario differs from incentive programs because the client made the referral because he/she wanted to; not because he/she felt pressured to or that he/she would be rewarded for doing so.

Can a veterinarian use coupons in advertising?

Yes. Veterinary practices can use coupons as a way to advertise promotions and prices. Coupons can be promoted in any public advertising medium.   However, a clinic cannot use the services of a third- party company (such as Groupon) to sell discounted veterinary services on their behalf via a coupon program.

Can a veterinarian use incentives programs to try to increase his/her client base?

No. Clients should not be offered compensation, rewards, or incentives to refer others to a veterinarian’s practice. 

Can a veterinarian use testimonials in his/her advertising?

No. Veterinarians may not make use of client testimonials in the advertising they produce or have produced. Clinic websites should not have links to third party review websites. It is prohibited to use reviews or thank you cards/letters from clients or a story from a patient’s perspective in advertising on a clinic’s public website or other public medium. These are examples of a testimonial. Testimonials have long been a restriction of regulators. See the document on Testimonials for more information.

Can I advertise that the clinic is helping raise funds for a charity?

Yes, you may inform clients and the public about charity fund-raising and they may donate if they wish. If the advertising of the charity includes corporate sponsors, this would not be considered an endorsement by the clinic, as the sponsors are connected to the charity.

Can the clinic support a local sports team?

Yes, a clinic can sponsor a local sports team.  The clinic name and/or logo can appear on a team jersey as a sponsor, for example.

Can we post comments gained from client surveys in the office?

Veterinary facilities can send a client a survey to receive feedback to assist with clinic policy/protocol revisions, etc.  Any positive comments that a client makes on a survey can be shared with clinic staff; however, posting these comments in the clinic would still be viewed as using a testimonial.  Advertising occurs both within a clinic and outside of the clinic dependent on the advertising medium used.  A client comment on a survey is different than a thank you card.  These comments were solicited as part of the survey.  A client sending a thank you card is something that is done without any prompting from the clinic.

My practice has a Facebook page. How do I ensure that what I post is permissible?

Navigating the social media environment can be tricky. Whether veterinarians use Facebook or other social media platforms as a public forum, they should consider applying the advertising regulations broadly, maintaining their professionalism, and protecting confidentiality.  For more information on social media see Guidance on the use of Social Media. 

What can a veterinarian say in an advertisement?

Regulatory requirements outline the guidelines to follow when developing any form of advertising.  The information provided in an advertisement should:

  • be factual and verifiable
  • not be false, misleading or deceptive
  • contain no testimonials
  • contain no comparisons to, or claims of superiority over, another veterinarian or veterinary practice
  • contain no endorsement or promotion of specific products, brands of products, brand-name drugs or third-party service providers
  • not guarantee a cure
  • not be misrepresentative
  • not make claims about the utility of any type of treatment beyond what can reasonably be supported as professional opinion

Advertising should not demean the integrity or dignity of the profession or to bring the profession into disrepute.

When someone posts a negative review on social media or a third-party review site, should I respond?

Refer to the Guidance on the Use of Social Media document on the College’s website to assist with appropriate use of social media. Exercise caution when posting information online that relates to a client/patient. A suggestion is to move the conversation off-line by asking the individual to contact the practice directly. The College has no regulatory authority over third-party websites. To remove a negative review, contact the third-party review site, or seek legal advice depending on the circumstances.

Where can a veterinarian advertise?

Veterinarians can advertise in any public medium. This includes print, radio, television, internet social media, and on signs and bulletin boards.  Veterinary clinics can also participate in tradeshows, such as “pet expos” by having a booth. 

Mediated Resolutions Program

How does the MRP work?

Once the Registrar has identified that a matter may be suitable for the MRP, College staff invite the complainant and the veterinarian to participate in the mediation program. With their written consent to participate, the mediator will meet with the complainant and the veterinarian either separately or together to attempt to reach an agreement. If the mediation is successful, the agreement is forwarded to the Complaints Committee for review and approval. If the mediation does not result in an agreement, the matter will move on to the Complaints Committee.

Is the MRP always an option?

The MRP is not suitable for all complaints. The College Registrar identifies cases which are appropriate. Those involving serious allegations of professional misconduct, misuse of controlled drugs, fraud, animal abuse, misrepresentation, sexual impropriety or falsification of records will go to the Complaints Committee. Cases involving a licensee who has been subject to more than one similar complaint or discipline finding will also be dealt with by the Committee.

Is there a cost?

The College assumes all the costs associated with the mediation.

What happens if I do not wish to participate in the MRP?

If either party does not wish to participate in the MRP, the matter would proceed to the traditional Complaints process. The participation of both parties is required for the MRP to work.

What’s the result?

Any reasonable proposal may be explored as a resolution. Some options for resolving a case through MRP may include:

  • a letter acknowledging the incident with an understanding of the distress it caused the patient/family;
  • the facility establishes policy changes or initiatives that will serve to improve veterinary care;
  • an agreement the veterinarian will undertake further education on the issues surrounding the complaint; or
  • an apology by the veterinarian to the complainant.

Which cases are most suitable for the Mediated Resolutions Program (MRP)?

The MRP is not appropriate for all complaints. The College Registrar will review your complaint to determine if it is suitable for the MRP. Generally speaking, cases involving communication concerns or minor standard or practice issues would be given the opportunity to be resolved through an alternative approach, as long as both parties agree to pursue the MRP.

Who is the facilitator?

The MRP engages the services of a third-party mediator, not a member of the College’s staff or a College committee.

Quality Practice

I am a veterinarian working in non-clinical practice and part of my job is mentoring and consulting with peers. Should I log and report those work hours as CPD?

Generally speaking, mentoring and consulting with peers would not be considered CPD activities when they are part of a veterinarian’s routine work-related responsibilities; however, these activities may be logged as CPD when they lead to professional reflection and to identifying the impact that the new information may have on your practice.  

I am an intern, resident, or post-graduate student. What activities related to my program of study should I log and report as CPD?

Internships, residency, and post-graduate program activities would fall under CPD activity category A2, training and studying for supplementary credentials; however, activities would be considered CPD only when they contribute to professional development/learning and are not related to the time spent carrying out the clinical duties of a veterinarian within the context of the internship or program. 

Veterinarians should make an assessment as to what percentage of time was directly related to professional development beyond just doing clinical work.  For example, time spent on research, presentations, posters, or studying could be considered a CPD activity, and time spent in clinic would be considered a “work”-related activity and not CPD. 

Continuing Professional Development

How do I differentiate CPD activities from work-related responsibilities?

CPD includes activities you pursue to maintain your professional competence, keep up with innovations and advancements, or develop expertise in a new area or scope of practice.  CPD activities do not include routine work-related responsibilities.  A key way to differentiate CPD activities from routine professional responsibilities is that CPD activities lead to professional reflection and to identifying the impact the new information may have on your practice.

How many hours of CPD do I have to complete?

Based on the average number of hours members report each year, the College recommends that members complete at least 50 hours of CPD each year, or 150 hours over a three-year period.

How many hours of CPD does the activity I completed count for?

The real time spent pursuing each learning activity is recorded.  If a veterinarian spends 2 hours reading veterinary journal articles about a new treatment option, 2 hours are recorded.  If a veterinarian spends 2 hours at an evening seminar, 2 hours are recorded.

I just received my licence from the College. Do I have to complete 50 hours of CPD in my first year as a licensed veterinarian?

Many newly licensed veterinarians choose to prorate the recommendation of 50 hours of CPD each year, or 150 hours over a three-year period, based on the number of months they will have been licensed for during the reporting period.  This is entirely acceptable.  CPD hours should not be reported for activities completed before a veterinarian receives her/his licence.

What CPD information am I required to report to the College?

As part of the Annual Licence Renewal process, veterinarians are required to report the number of CPD hours they completed for each activity type during the preceding 12-month period ending on the 31st day of October.  This information is collected on the Annual Renewal Form.

What is the reporting period for CPD activity?

CPD hours are calculated and recorded based on a reporting year of November 1st to October 31st.

What tools does the College provide to assist me with recording and reporting my CPD hours?

The CPD Activity Log is available to veterinarians in the Professional Practice Portal.  

CPD Activity Log