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Veterinary Care

New Zealand - Veterinary Care

In line with the Animal Welfare Act, veterinarians in New Zealand have to follow the five basic ‘freedoms’. This ensures that animals are properly fed and watered, have appropriate shelter, the ability to behave as they were meant to, be handled properly and be protected from and treated for disease and injury. If a vet suspects that an animal is not being treated properly it is their responsibility to report it to the appropriate authorities. They should ensure that their staff also complies with the animal welfare regulations. It is a requirement that all veterinary practices have an appointed member of staff whose role it is to ensure that the required standards are met.

Veterinarians are obliged to take immediate action to prevent cruelty and distress in an animal. They should also ensure that only staff who are properly qualified and experienced should carry out surgical procedures or prescribe medications. If surgery is not considered to be essential it should not be carried out. The guidelines which are set out by the Veterinary Council of New Zealand sate that the vet should not carry out any treatment on an animal which has not been agreed by the owner unless the owner cannot be reached and the treatment is considered to be essential. All treatment should be explained to the client and the client has the right to consult another veterinarian or opt for an alternative course of treatment if this will not cause any unnecessary suffering to the animal.

A veterinarian is obliged to ensure that they have the latest knowledge at their disposal and regularly take part in continuing professional development courses, workshops and other activities to ensure that they are doing their job to the best of their ability. They are obliged to keep up to date and accurate records of the animals that they have treated and the different treatments that they have received. All veterinary practices are obliged to offer an emergency out of hours service to meet the needs of the clients. If for any reason the veterinarian is not able to provide the out of hours service they must assist the client to find suitable alternative care.

Veterinarians are not permitted to allow a client to administer a medicine to an animal if it specifically states that it should only be administered by a veterinarian. All medicines should be clearly labelled with storage and administration instructions so that they can be properly used by the client. New Zealand veterinarians are able to provide clients with a wide range of medicines and expats from countries such as the UK and the US should not have problems obtaining any necessary medications.

Most veterinary practices in New Zealand are equipped with the latest technology and are able to treat a wide range of animals and conditions. In addition, most have shops where clients are able to buy speciality foods and over the counter treatments and accessories. Some vets will also be able to order in foods for animals that have particular dietary requirements.

There are universities in New Zealand which offer veterinary degrees but there are also a number of vets in the country that have trained in other countries. There is currently a shortage of veterinary surgeons in New Zealand and some expats have obtained a visa for the country on the basis of their veterinary qualifications. There is a particular shortage of vets in rural areas of the country. If you are based in a rural area it will be worth making enquiries about the nearest veterinarian.

The Veterinary Council of New Zealand has a handy search option on their website so that you can find a vet or a practice in your local area. In addition, the New Zealand Veterinary Association dates back to the 1920s. Around 80% of vets in New Zealand are members of the Association. The association also encourages CPD and holds regular conferences for members.

Useful Resources

Veterinary Council of New Zealand
PO Box 10 563
Level 11
Kordia House
109 Willis Street
Wellington 6143
Tel: +64 4 473 9600
Email: vet@vetcouncil.org.nz

New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA)
PO Box 11 212
Wellington 6142
New Zealand
Tel: +64 4 471 0484
Email: nzva@vets.org.nz

Read more about this country

Expat Health Insurance Partners

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