Vet-Client-Patient relationship

A veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) is one of the most important parts of animal care. A VCPR means:

  • The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making medical judgments regarding the health of the animal and the need for medical treatment, and the client, owner, or other caretaker has agreed to follow the instructions of the veterinarian.
  • The veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal by virtue of an examination of the animal and/or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal is kept and therefore has sufficient knowledge to initiate a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal (usually requires at least annual visits to the premises).
  • The veterinarian is readily available for follow-up in case of adverse reactions or failure of the treatment regimen.

Veterinarians have extensive experience, knowledge, and training, something that cannot be matched by reading textbooks, talking to other producers, or researching online. 

By law, veterinarians cannot diagnose, treat, or dispense medications if a VCPR does not exist. VCPRs are especially important to veal producers as most drugs are not approved for use in veal. As such, extra-label drug use (ELDU) is very common. ELDU may only be done in consultation with a veterinarian. For more information see Veal Farmers of Ontario’s “Extra label drug use in veal production” factsheet.

Note: You should establish a VCPR relationship and regular herd health visits before you have an emergency situation. 

Choosing a veterinarian

  • Ask local producers if they can recommend a veterinarian to you 
  • Try to find a veterinarian with specific experience in veal. If this is not possible, find a livestock veterinarian who understands the concepts of herd health. 
    • Your veterinarian should also have experience managing animals in your production system, if possible.
  • Before entering into a VCPR ask your veterinarian:
    • Do they make farm visits?
    • Do they provide emergency services? If not, who do they refer you to?
    • How is payment handled?
    • If there are multiple veterinarians in a practice, will your animals always be seen by the same veterinarian?
  • Choose a veterinarian who clearly explains information about the health of your animals and is willing to train you how to complete routine health management practices.

Important functions of your veterinarian and a VCPR

  • Establishment of a customized herd health program
    • Including protocols for prevention, detection, and treatment of health concerns, vaccination protocols, observing animals for signs of disease, record keeping, monitoring drug use and withdrawal times, routine health management practices, and more
  • Prescribe and dispense animal health products
  • Determine the cause of health problems and create a prevention program
  • Tailor treatment to your herd, management system, and financial situation
  • Advise you on best management practices and new animal health and welfare information


Establishment of a VCPR is absolutely essential to ensure the health of your herd. Veterinarians are a great source of information on animal health, care, and welfare. The ability of a veterinarian to interact with your herd in order to diagnose and treat them is invaluable. Establishing a relationship with a veterinarian you trust is paramount to herd health. 

For more information see Veal Farmers of Ontario’s “Extra label drug use in veal production”