the importance of vet-client-patient relationships

Dr. Kim Smyth
Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Mar 16 2012


You know it is important to get to the vet if your pet has an illness, but annual wellness checkups are probably just as important. Not only is this the time for your pet to get caught up on overdue vaccines and yearly tests (such as fecal and heartworm tests), but it also gives your veterinarian a chance to get a baseline on your pet and answer any questions you may have about your pet’s health.

Yearly exams are essential to maintaining a veterinarian-client-patient relationship, or VCPR. This type of relationship allows your veterinarian to know your pet well enough to be able to diagnose and treat medical conditions. Without a VCPR, your veterinarian cannot prescribe medications or make recommendations about her health.

If you’ve ever let your wellness checkups lapse accidentally, and then called your veterinarian to get a new prescription, you likely ran into trouble. Without having seen your pet within the past year, it would be unethical (and in many states illegal) for your veterinarian to make decisions about your pet’s health.

The VCPR is valid only when it is maintained by regular checkups and a veterinarian examines your pet in person. Discussing your pet over the phone or through e-mail is not sufficient to sustain a VCPR.

I am going on and on about valid veterinarian-client-patient relationships because I really want to drive home how important they are. If your pet was my patient, without seeing her on a regular basis I don’t have the information I need to make good decisions about her medical conditions. And, in my state, it would be illegal for me to do so, according to my state’s Veterinary Practice Act.

Ensuring regular checkups ensures that your pet is getting the very best care possible. When veterinarians ask you to maintain valid VCPRs, it has nothing to do with trying to make more money or making your life difficult, but has everything to do with being the best doctor they can be and valuing your pet’s health above all else.