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Veterinary Consensus Statement Survival Guide

Spend a day working in a setting with more than one veterinarian and soon realize that we are a profession who loves to agree to disagree.

This is not a novel problem. Controversial topics abound in any facet of medicine. The proverbial “pendulum swing” is a frequently invoked term to explain why some choose certain diagnostics or therapeutics and others choose something entirely different.

I would argue that this isn’t a problem at all. We’d all agree that medicine feels like more of an art than a science some days. Plus, how can one discover new therapies if none are ever tried?

With that said, evidence-based medicine is all the rage. Don’t believe me? JAVMA has a new recurrent section dedicated to it. Organizations are popping up devoted to it. Veterinary school curricula now emphasizes its importance, referral hospital cases are managed with it in mind, and savvy animal owners demand it.

But veterinary medicine doesn’t have abundant meta-data analyses to fall back on like those enjoyed by our human counterparts.

So what’s a thoughtful veterinary professional to do?

Enter the consensus statement. Consensus statements come in many shapes and sizes. In general, they are peer-reviewed guidelines published after reviewing the available literature and with input from leading specialists on the topic at hand.

In veterinary medicine, numerous organizations publish these useful and modern references. Lucky for us, they are universally accessible online for FREE and most allow for downloading into your custom Google Drive Library.

And lucky for you, we’ve scoured the industry to put together a comprehensive guide to the digital versions of the top veterinary consensus statements and guideline resources.


1. AVMA Policies & Guidelines The American Veterinary Medical Association publishes an extensive list of guidelines that are reviewed and updated regularly. Most of these are policy statements rather than disease-specific guidelines.

Currently, over 250 policies exist on a variety of subjects across all species. Some example topics include Adverse Event Reporting, Animal Welfare issues, Licensing and Accreditation, Record Keeping, Drug Issues (Labeling, Withdrawal, Compounding, DEA Numbers), Food Safety issues, Pet Health Insurance, and Hospital Management topics.

Of note for medical guidelines:

Who: Hospital owners, animal caretakers, and veterinary professionals treating all species


Bonus: JAVMA’s 2010 Leishmaniasis Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention Series

2. ACVIM Consensus Statement Guidelines

Since 2000, the American College of Veterinary Medicine started publishing a running list of up-to-date guidelines on medical topics likely encountered in daily practice.

Of importance, all are derived from evidence-based medicine (whenever possible) and go through several peer-reviews prior to publication.

Some topic highlights: Canine Hyperadrenocorticism, Cattle Paratuberculosis (Johne’s Disease), Rhodococcus equi in Foals, Enteropathogenic Bacteria in Dogs and Cats, Leptospirosis, Equine Herpesvirus-1, Lyme Disease in Dogs, and Canine Chronic Valvular Heart Disease.

Who: Veterinary professionals treating any species


Bonus: JAVIM’s Free Reviews and Consensus Statements

SEE ALSO: VMD Tech’s Survival Guide to Veterinary Trade Magazines

3. VECCS Animal CPR Guidelines (RECOVER Initiative)

In 2012, the Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society and the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care published the seven-part Reassessment Campaign on Veterinary Resuscitation (RECOVER) for dogs and cats. Over 100 board-certified specialists collaborated to systemically review all available experimental data on CPR (over 1000 scientific papers).

This is the mother of all veterinary consensus statements and likely sets the bar going forward for future evidence-based guidelines in veterinary medicine.

From this review, knowledge gaps were identified and 101 clinical guidelines were made for the practice of canine and feline CPR. The special JVECCS issue containing the guidelines is available for FREE to everyone.

Who: Small animal veterinary professionals


Bonus: VECCS Recommendations for Veterinary Emergency & Critical Care Facilities and VECCS Emergency & Critical Care Internship Guidelines

4. AAHA Guidelines & Position Statements The American Animal Hospital Association is also building an impressive library of guidelines and statements. The medical topics are uniquely practical and timely addressing a host of pertinent small animal issues. All are relatively recent (publishing one or two guidelines a year since 2005).

Some of the most useful medical topics include:

There are many more on the AAHA website including non-medical guidelines such as the 2013 Referral Guidelines and 2008 Mentoring Guidelines.

AAHA also hosts numerous Position Statements on a variety of controversial topics to aid the judgment of the savvy veterinary professional. Lastly, AAHA has a list of other industry guidelines that they endorse.

They are all available FREE even if you aren’t an active AAHA member.

Who: Small animal veterinary professionals

Where: AAHA Guidelines | AAHA Position Statements | AAHA Endorsements

5. American Heartworm Society and CAPC Guidelines The American Heartworm Society maintains the industry’s trusted guidelines on the treatment and prevention of heartworm disease in dogs and cats. In addition to the guidelines, you can find posters, maps, and pet owner resources on their website.

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) hosts general parasite guidelines as well as recommendations on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of all known parasites in cats and dogs.

Who: Small animal veterinary professionals

Where: and

6. American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior Veterinary behavior and animal training is one aspect of veterinary medicine where much misinformation information exists online.

To help set the record straight, the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has released position statements on some of these topics.

The current list of topics is small but pertinent: Dominance, Punishment, and Puppy Socialization position statements as well as a handout for pet owners called How to Choose a Dog Trainer.

Who: Veterinary professionals treating any species



Bonus Guideline Resources

1. Feline Care Guidelines and Position Statements American Association of Feline Practitioners

2. Guidelines for Veterinary Personal Biosecurity Australian Veterinary Association

3. Guidelines for the Standards of Care in Animal Shelters Association of Shelter Veterinarians

4. Guidelines for Veterinary Care of Lab Animals Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Lab Animal Care

5. Feline Medicine Guidelines from the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery European Advisory Board on Cat Diseases

6. International Veterinary Information Service Guideline Links International Veterinary Information Service


About the Author

Dr. Caleb Frankel is an ER veterinarian, author, speaker, and entrepreneur. He currently divides his time between two roles: emergency veterinarian at VSEC, a 70-doctor referral hospital in Greater Philadelphia, PA (USA) and the founder of Instinct Science, a new animal health company helping the world’s state-of-the-art veterinary practices streamline their care through medically-driven invoicing and thoughtful automation.

He served as Director of New Product Development at Brief Media for 4 years where he lead the development and launch of products such as Plumb's Veterinary Drugs and New York Vet. Follow Dr. Frankel on Twitter @VMDtechnology.

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