what is ‘veterinarian’ ?


A vet, shortened from veterinarian (American English) or veterinary surgeon (British English), is a professional who treats disease, disorder and injury in animals.

In many countries, the local nomenclature for a vet is a protected term, meaning that people without the prerequisite qualifications and/or registration are not able to use the title, and in many cases, the activities that may be undertaken by a vet (such as animal treatment or surgery) are restricted only to those people who are registered as vet. For instance, in the United Kingdom, as in other jurisdictions, animal treatment may only be performed by registered vets (with a few designated exceptions, such as paraveterinary workers), and it is illegal for any person who is not registered to call themselves a vet or perform any treatment.

Most vets work in clinical settings, treating animals directly. These vets may be involved in a general practice, treating animals of all types; may be specialised in a specific group of animals such as companion animals, livestock, zoo animals or horses; or may specialise in a narrow medical discipline such as surgery, dermatology or internal medicine.

As with healthcare professionals, vets face ethical decisions about the care of their patients. Current debates within the profession include the ethics of purely cosmetic procedures on animals, such as declawing of cats, docking of tails, cropping of ears and debarking on dogs.

Vets are primarily required to treat disease, disorder or injury in animals, which includes diagnosis, treatment and aftercare. The scope of practice, speciality and experience of the individual vets will dictate exactly what interventions they perform, but most will perform surgery (of differing complexity).

Unlike in adult human medicine, vets must rely on clinical signs, as animals are unable to vocalise symptoms as a human would (and in that respect is similar to medicine on human children). In some cases, owners may be able to provide a medical history and the vet can combine this information along with observations, and the results of pertinent diagnostic tests such as x-rays, CT scans, blood tests, urinalysis or other diagnostics.

As with human medicine, much veterinary work is concerned with prophylactic treatment, in order to prevent problems occurring in the future. Common interventions include vaccination against common animal illnesses, such as distemper or rabies. This may also involve being involved in owner education so as to avoid future medical or behavioural issues.

Unlike in most human medicine, vets will often consider the appropriateness of euthanasia (“putting to sleep”) if a condition is likely to leave the animal in pain or with a poor quality of life.

The mean salary for new graduates in the United States during 2010 was US$48,674 including nearly 50% going on to advanced study programs.[4] Those not continuing their studies made US$67,359 at first.[4], whereas vets in the United Kingdom earned slightly less with new graduate wages at an average of £25,000.

The average income for private practice in the United States rose from $105,510 in 2005 to $115,447 in 2007. These increased values exceed those of public practice including uniformed services and government.[5]

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