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Canada - Veterinary Care
Veterinary surgeries offer a wide range of services. These include x-rays, operations, vaccinations, dentistry and general examinations. They advise owners on the care of their pets and offer advisory services by phone, although some vets now also do this online. Most veterinary practices have several vets on the staff as well as veterinary nurses who provide some basic services and advice.
In order to become a vet in Canada you must have completed 6 years of university education and then many choose to specialise in one particular area such as radiology or cardiology. A large number of vets will also spend time teaching at one of the universities which offer veterinary degree courses. Canada has several universities which offer these courses and training is also available at a number of universities in the US. Vets are also encouraged to attend regular training courses to keep their knowledge up to date and to ensure that they are familiar with the latest technologies and innovations.
All veterinarians are members of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association which is a national body that oversees standards and offers support to vets in practice. The organisation also promotes animal welfare issues to the public and publishes journals. This is a good place to start if you need to find a vet in your area. If you should find a vet that is not registered with this association then you should reconsider using them and find a vet that is.
Each province has a licensing body which regulates the veterinarians in the area and carries out inspections, assesses for accreditation and establishes the standard for veterinary practices. If there should be a need for disciplining veterinarians if their conduct is unprofessional then the licensing body will handle complaints and hearings.
There are also a number of associations which take care of different types of veterinary practices. These include the American Animal Hospital Association which offers accreditation to small animal hospitals not only in Canada but the US too. Membership is voluntary and there are a series of 900 checks carried out, so standards are high and the general public are able to have faith in a practice that is affiliated to one of these associations.
There are areas of the country which do not have ready access to veterinary care and in these instances the organisation IFAW visits to offer help. Some areas have an excess of strays thanks to the lack of veterinary care there, although this is not the case in all rural areas. Programmes include basic veterinary services and advice on caring for an animal. The organisation also offers advice on rehoming for those who are unable to care for their pets any longer.
The cost of using a vet can be very expensive and pet insurance is available in Canada to help to cover the bills. As with pet insurance in most countries you cannot get cover for a pet with a pre-existing condition and most insurers are reluctant to offer insurance to older animals. You may have to pay part or all of the bill yourself then claim the money back from the insurer. Those who are on lower incomes may be able to get veterinary treatment for their pets through one of the many animal charities which are in operation in Canada.
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