Every veterinarian should be familiar with the legal definition of the practice of veterinary medicine as defined in their state or provincial Veterinary Practice Act. The AAEP defines the practice of veterinary medicine for the ethical guidance of its members as the following:

“Practice of veterinary medicine” means:

Any person practices veterinary medicine with respect to animals when such person performs any one or more of the following:

a. Diagnoses, prognoses, treats or prevents animal disease, illness, pain, deformity, defect, injury, or other physical, dental, or mental conditions by any method or mode; or
b. Prescribes, dispenses, or administers a drug, medicine, biologic, appliance, or treatment of whatever nature; or
c. Performs upon an animal a medical procedure, a surgical or dental operation, or a complementary, integrative, or alternative veterinary medical procedure; or
d. Performs upon an animal any manual procedure for the diagnosis and /or treatment of pregnancy, sterility, or infertility; or
e. Upon examination determines the health, fitness, or soundness of an animal; or
f. Directly or indirectly consults, supervises, or recommends treatment of an animal by any means including telephonic and other electronic communications; or
g. Represents oneself directly or indirectly, as engaging in the practice of veterinary medicine; or
h. Uses any words, letters or titles under such circumstance as to induce the belief that the person using them is qualified to engage in the practice of veterinary medicine, as defined. Such use shall be prima facie evidence of the intent to represent oneself as engaged in the practice of veterinary medicine.

Approved by AAEP board of directors in 2014.

Resource Type

  • Position Statements


  • Careers
  • Practice Management
  • Veterinary Practice

Publish Date

January 1, 2014