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The Veterinarian’s Role

Veterinarians are highly educated individuals who are experts in the health of animals. The profession is regulated by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), requiring veterinary students to pass a certification exam in order to practice veterinary medicine. The AVMA recognizes 38 veterinary specialties and their 21 affiliated organizations, which promote various aspects of pet care, including:

  • Alternative medicine
  • Anesthesiology
  • Animal behavior
  • Animal welfare
  • Birds
  • Bovine
  • Canine
  • Cardiology
  • Chiropractic
  • Clinical pathology
  • Clinical pharmacology
  • Dentistry
  • Dermatology
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Equine
  • Emergency and critical care
  • Exotics
  • Feline
  • Internal medicine
  • Laboratory animal medicine
  • Microbiology
  • Neurology
  • Nutrition
  • Oncology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Parasitology
  • Pathology
  • Poultry
  • Preventative medicine
  • Radiology
  • Reptile and amphibian
  • Shelter medicine
  • State veterinary medicine
  • Sports medicine
  • Surgery
  • Theriogenology
  • Toxicology
  • Zoo animals and wildlife


After passing regulatory exams, a veterinarian takes The Veterinarian’s Oath, vowing to use their education and training “for the benefit of society through the protection of animal health and welfare, the prevention and relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.”

What does a veterinarian do?

The purpose of veterinary medicine is to treat ailing animals, help prevent disease through preventive health care, prevent disease transmission from animal to human, contain animal disease, and educate the public about proper pet and animal care. Throughout the extent of your pet’s life, there may be numerous times where you seek veterinary care. Your veterinarian can diagnose and treat disease, prescribe medicine, perform surgery and dentistry, offer preventive care including vaccinating your pet, and offer advice about your pets health care.