All creatures big and small

A male veterinarian examing a labrador

Dogs and cats, friendly horses, the animals in zoos — they’re a source of wonder to people of all ages. And at one time or another, many people have felt the pull of making animal care their life’s work.

What’s this career about?

Veterinarians identify and treat medical problems in animals. They treat injuries, set broken bones, perform surgery, prescribe medicines and administer vaccinations. By these methods and by doing research, vets help to protect people from diseases carried by animals.

Veterinarians for large animals handle health problems of farm animals, such as cattle and horses. They are also involved in educating and encouraging farmers to build up the quality of their animal stock. The majority, however, treat small companion animals such as dogs, cats, and birds. They also advise pet owners on care and breeding of pets. Some veterinarians care for zoo or aquarium animals or for laboratory animals.

A female veterinarian treating a tigerSeveral other career options are open to graduates in veterinary science. Dairy and poultry farms require the services of a veterinarian. The health of the animals on the farm is the responsibility of the veterinarian. They also advise farmers on the care, breeding, and maintenance of these animals. A veterinarian can also become a Meat Inspector for slaughter houses, or work at insurance and banking offices where he would have to assess the worth of animals. Livestock Inspectors are veterinarians who work with animals to be used for food to detect illnesses or diseases that might harm the animals or be passed on to humans.

In the pharmaceutical industry, veterinarians test new drugs, antibiotics, and surgical techniques on animals to determine their usefulness with humans. They can be part of the research in animal welfare societies or teach in colleges.

Taking care of animals is not as simple as it may appear to be. While a man can explain his problems to his doctor, you need extra perception to know what is wrong with animals. That’s why each day is a new challenge as every case is a new case. The working conditions are slightly more adversarial at animal clinics and hospitals — humans do not usually bark, bite, or chirp (though there are exceptions) while receiving treatment.


  • How do I get there?
  • Key skills
  • Institutes
  • Employment prospects and pay packages
  • Hot locations

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Dr Vibha Gupta
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Dr Vibha Gupta

Dr Vibha Gupta, a feature writer, is a Ph.D. in Mathematics from IIT Roorkee. Her book Careers: A Pathfinder and articles in various publications are an attempt to guide students in choosing a career according to their natural strengths, talents and skills.