Client relationship and understanding


Any prescribing or supply of veterinary medicines should only occur within the bounds of a valid veterinarian-client relationship.

A bona-fide veterinarian-client relationship exists where each of the following occurs:

  • The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making judgements regarding the health and welfare of the animal(s) and the need for treatment, with the owner’s (client’s) agreement.
  • The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of their medical condition. This means the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s) by virtue of a clinical examination, or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal(s) are kept.
  • The veterinarian is available, or has arranged for adequate emergency coverage, for follow up evaluation in the event of an adverse reaction or failure of the treatment regime.

The care of the animal or herd by the veterinarian should be real and not merely nominal, that is, there must be evidence of personally having contact with the animal/herd for diagnosis and for assuming personal responsibility for the diagnosis, treatment and outcome.

The veterinarian should know the client and hold clinical records relating to the client’s animals.

Client understanding and competence

Veterinarians are expected to the assess the client's skills and ability to understand instructions and correctly administer drugs prior to prescribing. It is assumed that the veterinarian will be able to fully inform the client regarding proper use of the drug, including dosage, route and method of administration, possible side-effects and withholding periods or export slaughter intervals.

In the case of drugs which can be dangerous to handle (e.g. prostaglandins, tranquilisers or anabolic steroids), it may include informing the client of any special restrictions on who is to handle the drug and how it is to be handled. Any specific instructions about the administration of the drug should be included in an advice note, and a copy kept in the clinical records.

For food-producing animals, the label or advice note (if the advice is too voluminous to put on the label) should provide the client with other essential information, e.g. withholding periods, export slaughter intervals, and safe handling instructions.