Acts of Veterinary Science


The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1936 defines an act of veterinary science as:

  1. ‘Veterinary Science’ means the science of veterinary surgery or veterinary medicine.
  2. ‘Veterinary Science’ includes the following:
    1. Diagnosing diseases in, and injuries to, animals, including, for example, testing animals for diagnostic purposes;
    2. Giving advice based on a diagnosis under paragraph (a);
    3. Medical or surgical treatment of animals;
    4. Performing surgical operations on animals;
    5. Administering anaesthetics to animals;
    6. Signing or issuing certificates relating to the description, health, diagnosis or treatment of animals.
  3. However ‘veterinary science’ does not include –
    1. an act done for animal husbandry or animal dentistry prescribed under a regulation not to be veterinary science; or
    2. Using an animal, or allowing an animal to be used, for scientific purpose in accordance with the the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, section 91.


Determinations have been made in respect to whether specific procedures represent veterinary science.  In making these determinations the Board chooses to be guided by the following interpretations made by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

(Ref. Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons position paper 7 November 1996—(Deregulation: Implications for Animal Welfare, Consumer Protection and the Veterinary Surgeons Act).)

‘If it is not clear that a certain activity or procedure falls within the statutory definition of veterinary science the following considerations should be applied to each case:

  • is the activity or procedure something which any veterinarian must have been trained to carry out?
  • is it necessary to be a veterinarian in order to understand why and how it is done and what the risks are?
  • does it require a full assessment by a veterinarian of the best course of action at the outset?
  • does it require continuing assessment by a veterinarian who can take the necessary action if something goes wrong?
  • is differential diagnosis involved, as distinct from the simple observation that something is amiss?
  • is there potential for unnecessary or inappropriate management or treatment as a result of misdiagnosis?
  • does it entail entering a body cavity* of the animal?
  • is there a potential for pain or stress to the animal if it is not done properly?
  • is there a potential for spreading disease?
  • does it involve decisions on the use of medicines?

Positive answers will tend to strengthen the case for saying that the activity or procedure in question falls within ‘the art and science of veterinary surgery and medicine’.  The questions are not, however, a checklist to be applied mechanically.  One or more ‘yes’’ answers do not necessarily imply that the activity or procedure is an act of veterinary science, and it may not be possible to give firm ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers to all the questions.  In borderline cases the conclusion may be that it is indeed an act of veterinary science, but one which could be carried out by a non-veterinarian subject to appropriate safeguards.

*  A body cavity is any ‘hollow space’ or enclosed cavity and includes the abdominal cavity, thoracic cavity, pelvic cavity, cranial and spinal canal, teeth cavities, orbit and eye, tympanic cavity, joint spaces and other synovial cavities.’

The following are Queensland Board determinations made in accordance with the above guidelines:

Procedures not deemed to be veterinary science unless administration of restricted drugs is required or making of diagnosis is required

  • Micro chipping
  • Acupuncture
  • Inoculating
  • Chiropractic/manipulation procedures
  • Embryo transfer (non surgical)
  • Scaling, cleaning, polishing teeth
  • Taking of blood for examination
  • Deworming
  • Farriery
  • Ultrasound pregnancy testing (non-invasive only)

Procedures deemed to be veterinary science

  • Stomach tubing of horses
  • Artificial insemination of horses
  • Dental procedures – all species
  • Sampling for disease residue – production animals
  • Ultrasound pregnancy testing when invasive – all species (by entry via rectum/vagina)
  • Laparoscopic Insemination

Procedures deemed to be acts of veterinary science but exempted by the Veterinary Surgeons Regulation 2016

  1. The following acts done for animal husbandry or animal dentistry are not veterinary science for the purposes of the Veterinary Surgeons Act.
    1. castrating—
      1. cattle or sheep of less than 6 months; or
      2. (goats of less than 2 months; or
      3. pigs of less than 3 weeks;
    2. dehorning—
      1. cattle of less than 6 months; or
      2. goats or sheep of less than 3 months;
    3. spaying cattle using the Willis dropped-ovary technique;
    4. tailing sheep of less than 6 months;
    5. mulesing sheep of less than 1 year;
    6. filing or rasping a horse’s teeth;
    7. artificial insemination of cattle, deer, goats, pigs or sheep;
    8. teaching techniques about pregnancy testing of cattle by a veterinary surgeon to an owner of cattle;
    9. pregnancy testing of cattle using rectal palpation or transrectal ultrasound by a person accredited to use rectal palpation or transrectal ultrasound to test for pregnancy in cattle under an approved cattle procedures accreditation scheme see the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, section 93A.

Fee or reward

It is an offence under the Veterinary Surgeons Act for a person who is not a registered veterinarian to perform an act of veterinary science for a fee or reward.

Anabolic steroids—dispensing

In consideration of the threat to human health presented by anabolic steroids there is a need for the veterinary profession to be self regulating in adopting a responsible approach in the restriction of supply of anabolic steroids to non-authorised persons.

Existing Queensland Health legislation provides restrictions that apply to the dispensing of all restricted (S4) drugs and medicines and must be strictly adhered to.  The dispensing or prescribing of restricted animal steroids for an animal that is not under the care of the veterinarian is an offence under the Health Act and will be construed as professional misconduct under the Veterinary Surgeons Act.

Injectable steroids

The policy that the Veterinary Surgeons Board encourages the veterinary profession to adopt is that injectable anabolic steroids be administered solely by the treating veterinarian, or if by the person in charge of the animal, in the presence and under the direct supervision of the veterinarian.

Further, that comprehensive records similar to those required to be kept for controlled drugs (S8) be maintained in a dedicated book or database.

The record should include full details of each transaction where an anabolic steroid was obtained, administered and disposed of, including dates, names and addresses of client and animal treated, quantity administered, balance in veterinarian’s possession and identification of veterinarian.

Non-injectable steroids

Non-injectable anabolic steroids should be prescribed or dispensed in accordance with the legislative provisions which apply to all restricted (S4) drugs and poisons.  That is:

  • the animal must be under the veterinarian’s care;
  • the treatment recommended must be recorded;
  • the client must be advised of the correct usage of the product.

Records maintained should include the same detail that applies to injectable anabolic steroids.

Use of title ‘Dr’ by veterinarians

Nothing prevents veterinarians using the title of doctor (title includes description and status) but the Board requires that if the title is used, it should be followed by:

a) the person’s name; and

b) words, or and abbreviation of words, intended to indicate and could be reasonably understood to indicate, that the person is a veterinarian.

Use of additional qualifications

Only a description of the qualification in respect of which registration is granted and those that the Board has recognised as post graduate veterinary science qualifications are entered in the Register of Veterinary Surgeons and the published Roll.  Additional qualifications not relative to veterinary science may be used by veterinarians but the primary registrable veterinary science degree should always be used in first instance.

Use of qualification—MRCVS

The use of the description ‘MRCVS’ is permitted only by those veterinarians who gained membership of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons by virtue of successful completion of the statutory examination conducted by the College (the equivalent of the National Veterinary Examination of Australia).  Membership gained by examination is a registrable degree in the United Kingdom and Australia and is recognised as such.

Membership in other circumstances is awarded when registering with the College by payment of a fee and production of evidence indicating the person is the holder of a veterinary science degree recognised by the College.  Registration confers membership of the College while the person remains financial with the College.  The Queensland Board considers the use of the qualification ‘MRCVS’ outside the UK is inappropriate when membership was gained in this manner.  The fact that a person has practised in the UK at some point of time should not be held out to the public as an additional qualification inferring superiority over others.

Last updated: 22 Jun 2023