The APBC continues to recognise that a strong link between the veterinary surgeon and the behaviourist is essential in all cases, and it emphasises this importance in its membership requirement that all members must work solely on veterinary referral, not least because of the link between some medical conditions and behavioural symptoms.
Owners of cases being referred to a member of the APBC should bring a completed copy of the Referral Slip(.pdf) to the consultation. Over recent years there has been an explosion of interest in animal behaviour within the veterinary profession. Numerous regional BSAVA groups now include behavioural therapy in their continuing education programme. There is an official BSAVA affiliated behaviour group which holds an annual satellite meeting at the BSAVA congress. APBC members have taken part in many of these meetings as well as various other behaviour courses for the veterinary profession and have also been actively involved in the incorporation of behavioural therapy into the undergraduate curriculum at various university veterinary schools.
In all of these ways, the APBC has demonstrated its commitment to the veterinary profession and its willingness to help in any way that it can, in order to establish behavioural therapy within a veterinary context.
As per the APBC Code of Practice, all APBC members work on veterinary referral when counselling on behaviour disorders. This leaflet is designed to help make this process smooth for veterinary surgeons, APBC members and clients.
A copy of this document can be viewed and printed as a pdf here.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons has very clear guidance on referral procedures in the Code of Professional Conduct as quoted below.
Full Members of the APBC are highly qualified and experienced behaviourists and should be recognised as appropriate individuals to receive behaviour referrals. Members adhere to a Code of Conduct and the APBC is the leading pet behavioural organisation in the UK.
The RCVS states:
The RCVS code of practice does not cover the release of clinical records to non-veterinary colleagues. It is therefore vital that client consent is provided before any transfer of this confidential information.
In the case where a client contacts an APBC member directly the member should explain to the client the need for consent from their veterinary surgeon in accordance with professional practise standards. The APBC member or the client may contact the referring practice to arrange for this consent.
In cases of referral to an APBC member who is not a veterinary surgeon, the referring veterinary surgeon may decide whether or not the clinical records contain relevant information for the behaviour problem and therefore decide whether to gain client consent to release these records to the APBC member.
The APBC member must make available to the referring vet their full client report so that the veterinary surgeon has sufficient knowledge of the presenting behaviour problem(s) and the recommendations of the behaviourist.
Prescribing medication remains the legal responsibility of the referring veterinary surgeon and APBC members who are not veterinary surgeons are not in a legal position to advise on types or dose rates of medication in a given case, except by reference to established scientific publication.
If the referring veterinary surgeon or the APBC member feels that a case is beyond the scope of their remit they should gain advice from or referral to a suitably qualified veterinary behaviourist (e.g. APBC member or CCAB who is a vet).
In accordance with the expected level of professional practise exhibited by APBC members, the potential use of both licensed and unlicensed complementary products with active chemical ingredients such as herbal preparations, nutritional supplements or aromatherapy, should also be discussed with the referring vet as these have potential medical interactions. The use of unsubstantiated complementary products, licensed or not, may delay the implementation of the most effective treatment to which the animal is entitled.
It is generally recommended that diet should not be manipulated without discussion with the referring vet. It is crucial that members remain within the remit of the behaviour referral process. If the APBC member feels that a change in nutrition may be beneficial in treating the animal’s presented behaviour disorder this must be discussed with the referring vet in case of any potential medical implications, for example nutrient intolerances, allergies or diabetes mellitus or potential interactions with behaviour modifying drugs.
APBC members should act in the best interests of both client and their pet and so should not refrain from considering the potential value of medication, simply because they are not a veterinary surgeon.
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