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Despite advancements in pharmacogenetics in human medicine, the incorporation of pharmacogenetics into veterinary medicine is still in its early stages of development. To date, efforts to understand the pharmacologic impact of genetic variation in veterinary species have largely focused on genes encoding for the membrane transporter, P-glycoprotein (P-gp). The emphasis on the role of P-gp is largely because of safety concerns associated with the use of some macrocyclic lactones in dogs. Because of the body of information available on this topic, we use P-gp as a platform for understanding the importance of population diversity in veterinary medicine. The impact of P-gp on drug pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics is considered, along with endogenous and exogenous factors that can modulate P-gp activity. The review includes discussion of how population diversity in P-gp activity can lead to susceptibility to certain diseases or alter patient response to environmental stress or pharmaceutical intervention. In addition, phenotypic diversity also needs to be considered, as demonstrated by the impact of P-gp up-regulation and drug resistance. The aim of this review was to set the stage for further exploration into the impact of genetic and phenotypic variability on drug pharmacokinetics, disease propensity, product formulation and drug response in both companion and food-producing animals.