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Welcome to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons' website for animal owners

Referrals, second opinions and changing practices



For more complicated cases, your vet may consider referring your animal to another vet, either within or outside the practice, for more advanced treatment. This is known as a referral. After this, you return to your normal vet.


Secondary referrals only

A practice listed as ‘secondary referrals only’ will only take cases referred to it by other practices and does not undertake initial consultations directly with the public. (This should not be confused with 'seeking a second opinion', below.)


Seeking a second opinion

You can also talk to your vet and ask for a second opinion (not to be confused with 'secondary referrals', above). Your vet may decide to discuss the case with a colleague or to seek the advice of someone outside the practice.

There are no restrictions on seeking a second opinion without the consent of your vet, but the second vet will need to contact your normal vet to obtain treatment information. This is so that conflicting treatments are avoided, and is in the interest of your animal. It is also a professional obligation for veterinary surgeons.

After the second opinion, you may be referred back to your own vet or you may choose to continue treatment with another vet.


Changing practices

Many clients will stay with the same veterinary practice for many years. Your own vet will have all of your animal’s records and you should enjoy a personal and dedicated professional service. If you do need to change practices, for example, if you are moving home and another practice may be more convenient, contact your current vet and ask for your animal’s details to be forwarded to your new vet — this will help to ensure a smooth transition from one vet to the next.


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