Guidelines of the Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria
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Definitions and acronyms

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Under the APVMA's Adverse Experience Reporting Program for Veterinary Medicines, adverse events associated with the use of registered veterinary chemical products are defined as:
  • an adverse experience - an unintended or unexpected effect on animals, human beings or the environment, or lack of efficacy associated with the use of a registered veterinary chemical product when used according to label instructions.
  • a serious adverse experience - any adverse experience that results in death, is life-threatening, results in persistent or significant disability or incapacity, prolonged duration of serious signs or is a congenital abnormality or birth defect in animals.


When an animal is referred to in this document it means the individual animal of any species receiving veterinary services at the instigation of the owner. The animal may be one of a collective group of animals.


While animal wellbeing is sometimes defined as the absence of pain or distress in an animal, it is also more broadly defined as a state of being in which ‘an animal is in a positive mental state and is able to achieve successful biological function, to have positive experiences, to express innate behaviours, and to respond to and cope with potentially adverse conditions’. (‘Australian code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes’, National Health and Medical Research Council).

Animal welfare is a related term. The Five Domains Model is used by the veterinary profession and animal welfare organisations as a focusing device to assess animal welfare. The purpose of the model is to help identify welfare-relevant negative and/or positive mental experiences in an animal related to the presence or absence of the following internal physical/functional states and external circumstances:
  1. Ready access to clean water and food adequate in quantity and composition to maintain health.
  2. Provision of a suitable environment, including shelter and comfortable resting place.
  3. Protection from, and rapid diagnosis and treatment of, injury and disease.
  4. The opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour.
  5. Minimised exposure to conditions that lead to unacceptable levels of anxiety, fear, distress, boredom or pain.


The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority is an Australian government statutory authority established in 1993 to centralise the registration of all agricultural and veterinary chemical products into the Australian marketplace. The APVMA's principal responsibilities are described in the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 and the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals Code Act 1994.


A set of management and physical measures designed to reduce the risk of introduction, establishment and spread of animal diseases, infections or infestations to, from and within an animal population.


Verbal, non-verbal and written exchanges between veterinary practitioners and the individuals they encounter when providing veterinary services.


A person designated by an owner as their representative to make decisions about the scope of veterinary services provided to the animal and to undertake one or more of their responsibilities in the veterinary-owner-animal (VOA) relationship. Designation of a representative must be explicit and recorded.


The action of encouraging someone to do something unlawful or unethical.


Consent is an owner’s agreement for a veterinary practitioner to provide veterinary services, including any tests, medicines, treatments or procedures. Consent is informed consent if the owner has received clear and sufficient information about their choices in relation to their animal’s health and treatment before they give their consent to treatment or a service. Informed consent is successful when the owner indicates they understand the information they have been given and confirm this verbally or in writing.


Financial consent is an owner’s agreement to the cost of veterinary services to be provided by a veterinary practitioner/practice. Financial consent is informed financial consent if the owner has received clear and sufficient information about the cost of a veterinary service, preferably in writing, before the service is provided. Informed financial consent is successful when the owner indicates they understand the information they have been given and confirm this verbally or in writing


A surgical examination of a dead animal to learn why the animal died or the extent of disease.


Specific animal diseases that, when suspected by owners, vets or laboratories, must be reported to Victoria’s Chief Veterinary Officer within a defined time frame. More information:


An act or behaviour that breaks a law; or the omission of an act or behaviour required by law.


A person (or their designated representative) who has property rights over an animal or a group of animals. In this document, the owner also includes an owner’s designated representative or the carer of the animal where an animal is not owned (such as a wild or non-domesticated animal or an animal in temporary care).


A problem that occurs in addition to the intended therapeutic effect of a treatment (including but not limited to supply of a veterinary medication).


A number by which an animal is individually identified, e.g. the identification number issued by a microchipping registry programmed into a microchip which is injected under an animal’s skin so they are permanently identifiable and can be reunited with their owner if lost.


A place where a veterinary practitioner works as a veterinary practitioner. Veterinary facilities include all premises here veterinary consultations and procedures are performed, such as buildings, clinics, hospitals, consulting rooms (including rooms embedded in other business premises) and vehicles and equipment used to deliver mobile veterinary services.


A person qualified to treat diseased or injured animals who, on the basis of that qualification, has been registered to practise (or is deemed able to practise) as a veterinary practitioner in Victoria under the Veterinary Practice Act 1997. Veterinary practitioners are also sometimes referred to as veterinarians or veterinary surgeons.


The foundation for delivery of veterinary services. The interaction between the owner and veterinary practitioner, and their respective responsibilities, are set out in Guideline 1. The VOA relationship is sometimes referred to by other organisations as the veterinarian-client-patient relationship.


See animal wellbeing.


See animal wellbeing.

Date of publication
In effect from 1 May 2021.

This material is current only at the time of publication and may be changed from time to time. The Board reviews and updates the Guidelines on a continuous basis to reflect changes in the science and knowledge base underpinning contemporary veterinary practice. The Board will take reasonable steps to inform the veterinary profession when such updates are released but it remains the responsibility of the individual veterinary practitioner to ensure that their knowledge and application of these Guidelines to their own practice is current.

While the Board has made every effort to ensure that the material in these Guidelines is correct in law, it shall not be liable to any veterinary practitioner or any other person or entity in relation to any claim, action or proceeding whatsoever (whether in contract, negligence or other tort or in proceedings seeking any other form of legal or equitable remedy or relief) for any inadequacy, error or mistake, or for any deficiency in the whole or any part of this document (including any updates incorporated in the document from time to time). A veterinary practitioner or any other person or entity acting upon the contents of this document acknowledges and accepts that this is the basis upon which the Board has produced these Guidelines and made them available to such person or entity.