Tuesday, 23rd April 2019


Veterinary surgeons or, as they are more commonly known, vets, are the medical professionals of the animal kingdom, treating all types of sick and injured animals, diagnosing and controlling animal diseases and advising on how to give the best animal care. The title ‘veterinary surgeon’ is protected in law, which means that only those who are registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) can use the title.

The veterinary profession is made up of around 24,000 registered veterinary surgeons (RCVS). Being a vet is a challenging medical profession for those who are specifically interested in the care of animals. They can work with all types of animals, from 'normal' pets to exotic reptiles and birds, and all scales of emergencies, from common illnesses and routine procedures to life-threatening operations.

Most vets will work in a private veterinary practice, along with other veterinary nurses and staff. They may have to do house calls or farm visits, and some vets specialise in working in other areas. The animals vets work with are usually part of the following:

  • Small or ‘companion’ animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, budgies, parrots etc.
  • Exotic animals - reptiles, snakes and rarer birds
  • Farm animals - pigs, cows, sheep, goats
  • Equines - horses, ponies, donkeys

Some vets may choose to work with zoo animals or wild animals also. This sort of work may involve pet rescue, or working in reproductive areas.

Typical tasks of a vet working in a standard veterinary practice would involve the following:

  • Normal check-ups and examinations of animals
  • Diagnosing conditions using a range of examinations and equipment
  • Vaccinations and blood tests
  • Emergency surgical procedures
  • Prescribing drugs or treatments
  • Delivering unborn animals
  • Setting fractures
  • Euthanasia or humane killing ('putting down') may be necessary in specific circumstances

Veterinary surgeons are highly qualified and registered professionals, and need to have a variety of qualities and skills to be able to practice veterinary medicine. Not only are they meant to cure animals of ailments and diseases, but they will work towards the prevention of animals passing on diseases to each other and to humans. Educating animal owners about the correct and best methods of care they can offer is another big part of a vet’s role.

Some vets may also be required to work in industry, research or for charities and organisations, researching drugs, testing products and rescuing animals from neglect, cruelty and other forms of harm.