Module 5

Module 5 focuses on animal health. It explains record keeping, veterinarian-client- patient relationship (VCPR), animal health monitoring and euthanasia.

In Module 2, you learned about the grading system for self-assesment/audit. You will use that knowledge in this module. Remember: 
C = Requirements in code are met
NI = Requirements in the code are not completely fulfilled and need improvement
U = Conditions are bad to severe and unacceptable


All animals must have an easily readable, humanely applied, unique identification. 

Individual Records

Individual animal identification records include:
  • date of birth, breed, gender, colour and markings
  • nose print, tattoo, tag, and/or microchip number, if present
  • name, phone number, email and physical address of animal’s owner
For temporary care: include date of arrival and departure and reason. 

For transfer of ownership: include date and source of acquisition or departure, name, physical address, telephone number and email of new or previous owner. If applicable, date of death and suspected or confirmed cause of death.

must be kept for a minimum of 2 years. Examples of records include:
  • training records
  • maintenance plans/records
  • emergency plans
  • enrichment plans
  • material safety data sheet (MSDS) forms
  • deviations and corrective actions 
  • VCPR
  • vaccination program
  • parasite program
  • treatment plans
  • pain management plans
  • euthanasia plan
Recordkeeping – Self Assessment
C = All records are complete, current and up-to-date. 
NI = Information missing on some animals, no record of behavioural assessment.
U = No records kept.  

Whelping (if applicable)

Whelping records to be kept for breeding facilities include:
  • Sire – include dates bred, dams bred to, successful/failed breeding, pre-breeding testing, and applicable test results for hereditary defects
  • Dam – include dates in heat, dates bred, sires bred to, successful/failed breeding, whelping dates, number per litter including live/dead births, birthing complications and applicable test results for hereditary defects
  • Offspring – include weight measured weekly until weaned, or more frequently as required if showing signs of illness/injury or weight loss

Key Message

Records are important.


Animal Health Plan - VCPR  

Develop a relationship with a veterinarian, called veterinary-client-patient relationship (VCPR), and ensure all health management programs are approved by a veterinarian with written protocols. The VCPR must be updated yearly.

Animal Health Plan/VCPR – Self Assessment
C = Documented evidence of a veterinary-client-patient relationship with required plans developed.  
NI = Relationship established but not current, all plans not complete. 
U = No documented evidence of a veterinary-client-patient relationship. 

General Vaccination Program

Young animals will require vaccination working in consultation with a veterinarian. Consult with a veterinarian to establish protocols for vaccination of adult animals.


Core or basic vaccination as recommended by a veterinarian. General vaccination recommendations are as follows:
  • initial vaccine around 8 weeks of age
  • first booster around 12 weeks of age
  • final booster around 16 weeks of age
Before eight weeks of age, puppies should only be in contact, or socialized, with animals currently on vaccines. For more information on vaccines, see The AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines.

Pain Management

Observing animal behaviour is the key to recognizing and assessing pain. Pain management is a team effort, include the veterinarian, owner/operator and attendants. Every person that plays a part in an animal's care should be able to recognize pain-associated behaviours and how to respond appropriately. The veterinarian will prescribe any necessary medications based on anticipated pain levels and individualized animal needs.

Pain Management – Self Assessment
C = No visible pain, appropriate pain medication administered according to veterinarian. 
NI = Partial pain medication given, mild to marked acute pain. 
U = No pain relief/medication given, very marked stress and acute pain.

Parasite Diagnostic Plan  

Fecal tests are to be carried out at least yearly by dog owners, and for other animals as per the relevant code of practice or as recommended by a veterinarian.
  • All animals that test positive should receive the appropriate treatment as recommended by a veterinarian.
  • Dams are treated for intestinal parasitic infections before mating.
  • Adult animals receive preventive treatments at least biannually for common parasitic intestinal infections or as per code of practice or recommended by veterinarian.
  • All dogs are checked regularly for the presence of common external parasites such as fleas and ticks. 
  • All ticks found attached to dog’s skin are promptly removed.
  • Animals should be treated for intestinal parasitic infections with an effective agent as recommended by a veterinarian.  

Animal Health Monitoring  

  • must be adequately trained and knowledgeable in recognizing signs of disease and illness and the facility animal health plan. 
  • must provide ongoing effective, regular observation and health care.
  • must have sufficient experience to ensure the daily health and welfare of the animals.
  • assign enough time to complete sanitation tasks and proper maintenance of a facility.
Keep adequate records that include animal’s date of entry, source (if known), identification, diagnostic tests, treatments, immunization and behavior. Monitor animals daily, including feed and water consumption, urination, defecation, attitude, behaviour, mobility, signs of illness or other problems.


Zoonoses are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to people or, more specifically, a disease that normally exists in animals but can infect humans. Zoonoses are generally diagnosed with the help of a veterinarian. Immediately notify all employees if a zoonotic disease is present.

Monitoring and Recognizing the Signs of Illness, Injury or Disease

Check coat, skin, teeth and ears simply by running your hands over the body of the animal.  If this is done daily, it will be easy to observe or feel a skin irritation, red gums, laceration, and problems with eyes or ear infections. Vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy are all signs that the animal is not well. Bloating is also a condition that can be observed by looking and touching the animal. Lack of urination should be noted.
Animal Health Monitoring - Self Assessment
C = All evidence of  illness or injury found during daily observation is documented. 
NI = Not applicable. 
U = Animal was observed with severe diarrhea, was not receiving treatment and it was not documented.

Key Message

Well trained staff will ultimately improve the health and well-being of animals in their care.

A euthanasia plan must be developed as part of a VCPR. If a veterinarian determines that an illness or injury can't be successfully treated, euthanasia must be performed immediately. 

Any euthanasia method must:   
  • Render animal irreversibly unconscious as rapidly as possible with the least possible pain, fear, and anxiety
  • Produce minimal undesirable physiological and psychological effects on the animal being euthanized, and on the humans and animals in their immediate vicinity
  • Be safe and produce minimal stress for the operator and any assistants or observers
  • Confirm the animal is deceased. This confirmation is obtained by the person conducting the euthanasia.
  • Ensure disposition of animal remains complies with provincial and local legislation.
  • Dispose of remains. If remains cannot be disposed of immediately, ensure they are placed in an appropriate storage facility.
  • Ensure disposal of animal remains has minimal ecological impact.

Euthanasia must be performed by a veterinarian or under veterinary supervision, unless an extreme situation prevents a veterinarian from doing so.

Euthanasia by firearm is acceptable, provided it is done by an appropriately-trained individual, with a proper gun license.

For more information on euthanasia, please visit, The AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals 

Key Message

Euthanasia is performed by trained staff in a quiet, calm area, gently restraining animals to ensure a smooth transition that is free of pain and anxiety. 

Go to Module 6.

For more information, please contact the Animal Care Line, or call 204-945-8000 (in Winnipeg); 
1-888-945-8001 (toll-free).