Pet Health Information

Veterinary medicine in Texas is strongly regulated by state and federal law. To help the public better understand the complex laws and regulations that apply to veterinarians in Texas, TVMA has compiled the following answers to some of our most frequently answered questions:


Q: Why does my veterinarian insist on seeing my pet in person before diagnosing its condition or prescribing medications?

A: Much like in human medicine, Texas law requires a veterinarian to establish a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) before they can diagnose or treat a pet. This is done by conducting a physical exam of the pet or, in the case of herd animals or livestock, by making timely visits to the premises where the animals are kept. A veterinarian who treats an animal without first conducting a physical exam is not only in breach of the profession’s standard of professional ethics but they also are in violation of the Texas Veterinary Licensing Act. Additionally, some conditions require a comprehensive in-person assessment to make an accurate diagnosis.

Q: How long does a VCPR last?

Though the law does not specify how often a veterinarian must examine an animal to maintain a VCPR, the accepted best practice in the field is for the veterinarian to have examined the animal within the past year, unless the animal’s medical history would require more frequent visits. This ensures the veterinarian has the most current information when he or she is making a diagnosis or providing treatment options for your pet.

Q: Does a VCPR extend to all veterinarians within a practice?

Generally, no. A VCPR is tied to the veterinarian who examined your pet because he or she is the only doctor who has observed the animal’s conditions and behavior. Therefore, if Dr. Smith sees your pet in January, Dr. Jones would not be able to diagnose a new condition or prescribe a new medication over the phone, because Dr. Jones does not have the necessary knowledge of your pet to make those decisions.

However, Texas law allows another veterinarian within the same practice who has access to your pet’s records to refill an existing prescription issued by a veterinarian who has a VCPR.



Q: Can a veterinarian refuse to provide me with a written prescription I can fill at another pharmacy?

A: Yes. Texas law leaves it to each veterinarian to determine their policies on filling prescriptions in-house versus writing a prescription that can be filled elsewhere.


Q: Can my veterinarian require payment for supplying me with a copy of my pet’s medical records?

A: Yes. In non-emergency and non-acute situations, state law allows veterinarians to charge a reasonable administrative fee before providing records. Reasonable fees shall include only copying, including labor and cost of supplies for copying, postage (when the individual has requested the copy be mailed) and the cost of preparing a summary of the records when appropriate.


Q: What documents do I need from my veterinarian before traveling to another state or country with my pet?

A: The answer will vary from state to state and from country to country, so it is important that you as the pet owner verify the requirements for traveling with a pet with your destination jurisdiction . Each jurisdiction is unique as to its requirements for health certificates and vaccinations. The USDA has compiled those requirements here. Airlines also may have their own requirements for shipping companion animals, so it is important to check those as well before your trip. Once you know what is needed for travel, you can let your veterinarian know what is needed.



Q: Can I file a complaint against my veterinarian with TVMA?

A: No. TVMA is not a state regulatory agency. Veterinarians are regulated by the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME), which has jurisdiction over complaints against licensees.

Q: I think the bill from my last visit was too high. Can TBVME take a look at my veterinarian’s prices?

A: No. The TBVME does not have statutory authority to regulate pricing within veterinary medicine. Veterinarians in Texas, like most other business owners, are free to set prices that make sense within their business and local market, and consumers are free to compare prices and choose providers who best align with their needs and budgets.

Q: I am concerned about the care my pet received. Can I file a complaint about that?

A: Yes. The TBVME reviews complaints requiring medical expertise to determine if the accepted professional standard of care has been violated.