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The practice of veterinary medicine includes the diagnosis and treatment (including prescriptions and surgery) of all animal disease. "Animal" includes every living creature except humans.

The practice of veterinary technology includes the performance of services within the field of veterinary medicine by a person (called a veterinary technician) who carries out medical orders prescribed by a supervising veterinarian.

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A New York licensed veterinarian has a doctoral degree (D.V.M., V.M.D., or equivalent) in veterinary medicine. Most practitioners also have an undergraduate degree with an emphasis in the basic and life sciences. In addition, all New York veterinarians have passed comprehensive written and clinical national examinations.

A New York licensed veterinary technician has completed a program approved by the New York State Education Department and has passed a national written examination.

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The services of a veterinarian may be used any time an animal requires medical treatment. This may be for an injury, illness, a nutritional problem, an annual physical examination, or for vaccinations.

A New York veterinarian must treat an animal in need of immediate care or make reasonable arrangements for that care.

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Most veterinarians offer a full range of diagnostic, surgical, and radiological procedures. Many practices also provide animal boarding services for the convenience of their clients.

Some veterinarians have completed advanced training and research in specialty areas such as ophthalmology, internal medicine, surgery, and dermatology, among others. Your veterinarian may refer you to such a specialist when it is necessary, and professional associations may be able to provide the names of their members who have been certified in specialty areas of practice. New York State does not issue these specialty credentials.

Under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian, veterinary technicians prepare and give medications as ordered by the veterinarian, take x-rays, induce and maintain anesthesia, and assist with medical and surgical procedures.

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The most reliable source of information about good veterinary practice may be a recommendation from a satisfied friend or relative. You may also check under "Veterinarians" in the yellow pages of your phone book. Professional associations may also provide the names of their members who offer services in your area.

The State Board for Veterinary Medicine cannot refer you to a practitioner.

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Ask such questions as whether the service location is physically accessible (curb cuts, ramps, restrooms, etc.) as well as whether there is a Telecommunication Device for the Deaf (TDD) and parking for people with disabilities.

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Veterinarians must maintain the records of their patients for at least three years. These records, including x-rays, are confidential; they may only be released upon the written authorization of the client except in circumstances provided for by the law.

To help your professional relationship with your veterinarian you should:

  • Ask any questions you have about diagnoses and treatments; schedule enough time to have all of your questions answered.
  • Be aware of what services are being provided, how much they cost, and what follow-up services may be required.
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New York veterinary professionals must display a current New York registration certificate; this certificate lists the professional’s name, address, and dates of the registration period. Veterinary professionals must reregister every three years to practice in New York. Some professionals also display their original New York license, diploma, licenses from other states, and membership certificates. You may verify licenses on this site.