Source: New Brunswick Equestrian Federation

As of December 1, 2018, products containing antibiotics will require a prescription from a veterinarian, and can only be dispensed by a veterinarian, or licensed pharmacist. Health Canada is making these changes to aid in protecting human health by reducing the factors in the nationwide incidents of drug resistant organisms.

How does this affect horse owners and animal welfare? Horse owners may have been in the habit of obtaining products containing antibiotics at feed stores or tack shops, rather than through their veterinarian. They may also have imported products containing antibiotics for their own use from the US, or from online pharmacies. These options will no longer be available. Those without a veterinarian with whom they have a valid client-patient-relationship will not be able to access products that contain antibiotics without a prescription. Horse owners in remote areas may have greater difficulty obtaining products containing antibiotics.

Owners need to be sure they have a valid veterinary-client-patient-relationship (VCPR) to ensure they are prepared, and to avoid any potential negative impacts to equine welfare that a delay related to not having a VCPR could create. This is especially important for the communities in northern and remote areas who may have limited access to veterinary services; they must be prepared for these changes so they can establish a VCPR that works for their farm or equine situation and their veterinarian.

“What Determines a Legitimate Veterinarian-Client-Patient-Relationship (VCPR)?

A legitimate VCPR is considered to exist only if medical records of the practice contain sufficient evidence of relevant and timely interaction between the veterinarian, animal owner, and animal patients.

These interactions may include but are not limited to:

  • Farm or home visits
  • Clinic appointments
  • Consultations
  • Direct animal examinations (individual or herd/flock)
  • Laboratory reports
  • Production record reviews, etc.

The VCPR is supported by documented evidence that the veterinarian has undertaken the steps necessary to establish medical needs and consequently prescribes and subsequently dispenses pharmaceuticals.

The VCPR is not a signed contractual agreement, but rather a working connection and interaction between veterinarian, client, and specific animal patient or group of animals. The VCPR is not in and of itself an entitlement to prescribe and subsequently dispense pharmaceuticals.” – Canadian Veterinary Medical Association 2008. (CVMA is not a regulatory body and Provincial Regulations will definitely preempt this definition)

For more information, please visit these links:

Fact Sheet 

List of Antibiotics requiring a Vet Prescription

Health Canada resources

Canadian Veterinarians resources