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What is a Prescription?
A prescription is a written (or verbal) order for a medication from a licensed veterinarian. The prescription communicates information about:
- The animal(s) to be treated;
- The drug(s) to be used for treatment;
- How the drug(s) are to be used;
- Any special warnings (e.g. withdrawal times).
To dispense a drug means to administer, sell, distribute, or give away a drug. In Ontario, only a veterinarian or pharmacist may dispense a prescription drug. Commercial feed mills may dispense a prescription drug in mixed feed.
Veterinarians are required to leave written instructions with all medicines dispensed at a farm. When the medicines are to be used exactly as described on the label and are dispensed in their original containers, additional written instructions (over and above a written prescription) are not required.
What’s on the Prescription?
Information that needs to be included on a written, signed prescription includes the:
- Name, strength, and quantity of the drug;
- Name and address of the prescribing veterinarian;
- Identity of the animal or group of animals in need of the drug;
- Name of the client;
- Directions for use (dose, route of administration, frequency, and duration);
- Date (day, month, year) the prescription is issued;
- Withdrawal times;
- Number of refills (if any) permitted; and
- The veterinarian’s license number issued by the College of Veterinarians of Ontario.
Prescriptions for Antimicrobials In-Feed
When a veterinarian prescribes medically important antimicrobials in feed (see Animal Owner FAASTsheet #3), the following must ALSO be included in the prescription:
- Animal production type;
- Weight or age;
- Type of feed;
- Total amount of feed or feeding period;
- Amount of drug used per tonne;
- Manufacturing instructions;
- CgFARAD* number if applicable.
*CgFARAD = Canadian Global Food Animal Residue Avoidance Database
- Globally funded group that provides advice to veterinarians regarding withdrawal times for drugs used in an extra-label manner in food-producing animals.
Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have developed a checklist and species-specific prescription templates (ruminants, swine, poultry), to assist veterinarians when writing feed prescriptions. The use of these templates is optional; click below to download the various forms. Visit Health Canada for more information.