Opioid resources for veterinarians

Veterinarians are concerned that the United States is in the midst of an opioid crisis and want to contribute actively to solving this problem. AVMA members can use the resources on this page to navigate the unique challenges posed by human opioid abuse, while still providing the best possible care for our animal patients.

Veterinarians prescribe or dispense opioids for very limited uses, but know it is critical for certain animals to receive these medications. Though our animal patients are not the ones struggling with opioid addiction, concerns about diversion are top-of-mind for the veterinary profession. Veterinarians already follow thoughtful steps that promote the responsible use of opioids and aim to avoid unintended consequences. These steps include meticulous record-keeping and control of opioids, as well as a multi-modal approach to patient care that uses not only pharmaceuticals, but also other interventions to effectively manage pain.

While conveying the veterinary profession’s desire to partner in an effective strategy to fight opioid abuse, the AVMA works with lawmakers and regulators to protect veterinarians’ ability to access, prescribe, and dispense opioids without compromising patient care. This means ensuring that expanded restrictions and other proposed solutions to managing opioid abuse support the ability of veterinarians to appropriately care for our patients.

The following materials will support AVMA members in complying with reporting requirements, understanding continuing education needs, and preventing drug diversion. We will continue to identify and develop additional resources to assist our members.

Opioid resources for AVMA members

State-by-state PDMP chart: This chart summarizes state laws and regulations, and shows the extent to which veterinarians are required to participate in prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), including requirements for reporting and searching state PDMP databases if applicable.

State-by-state CE chart: This chart summarizes state laws and regulations defining veterinary continuing education requirements, including specific provisions related to opioids or other controlled substances.

Vet shopping and drug diversion: This printable resource can be used in the back office of your clinic to help identify “vet shoppers” and combat drug diversion.

AVMA policy – Veterinary profession's role in addressing the opioid epidemic: This policy spells out the objectives and efforts the AVMA supports to address the national opioid epidemic.

Alternatives to opioids:

Opioid-sparing pain therapy in animals – White paper published by the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia and Analgesia along with the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management

Opioid minimal anesthesia – Vetbloom webinar created in collaboration with the AVMA

Other resources:

Opioid overdoses in working dogs – Training video produced by the University of Illinois with contributions from the AVMA​