The veterinary profession is a profession of passion. One would be hard-pressed to find a veterinarian who is not passionate about treating and saving the lives of animals.

When a veterinarian starts a practice, the last thing he/she wants to think about is legal barriers that may prevent him/her from focusing on the practice. So, here are five quick and essential things to consider before starting veterinary practice.

1. Legal structure

Before starting your business, you must decide on a legal structure for your business. Many considerations should factor into your decision, such as your current and future goals for your business, ease of maintaining and operating the business, potential income and taxes.

It is important to remember that not every structure is suitable for every business. The business structure you choose will have lasting legal and tax implications. There are several structures available for your business, and each has its pros and cons. The most common types of business structures are: sole proprietorship, partnership, C corporation, S corporation and limited liability company (LLC).

2. Registering your DBA

If you decide to operate your business as a sole proprietor or a partnership, you may need to register your "doing business as" or "DBA" name with your county clerk's office or with your state government.

Also, for those of you with existing corporations or LLCs, if you want to do business under a name other than your existing corporation or LLC name, you may need to register a DBA.

3. Licenses and permits

In addition to registering your business with the proper governmental entities, you may also need to apply for and obtain licenses and/or permits. Every state has different requirements and you must comply with those of your state.

There are federal, state, and trade licenses and permits. It is important that you comply with all the necessary requirements in order to run your business legally.

4. Contracts

In the United States, pets are considered property and are treated as such in the legal system. Pet-related lawsuits are filed daily across the country.

In order to maximize your chances of avoiding such lawsuits, you will need iron-clad, customized contracts that will protect you in the event of a lawsuit. These contracts would be between the veterinary practice and the pet owners who utilize the veterinary services and should be executed at the very first visitation.

5. Protecting your business identity

As a small business entity, the identity of your business is your business's biggest asset. As such, it is highly advisable that you protect your business identity (name, logo, slogan, etc.) from its inception.

By utilizing intellectual property law, such as trademark and copyright laws, your business identity will be protected and you will be able to focus on growing your business.