What they do

Veterinarians diagnose and treat sick and injured animals, including pets, farm animals, native wildlife, sporting animals and more exotic animals, such as those kept in zoos or aquariums. They examine tissue, blood, urine and other samples to assist in diagnosing the cause of disease and decide on the appropriate treatment. Treatments may include prescribing drugs, surgical procedures and nursing care. In some cases they may also have to humanely kill an animal to end pain and suffering, or to prevent the spread of disease. Veterinarians also educate animal owners and breeders on techniques to maintain or improve an animal's health and/or welfare.

Working conditions

The majority of veterinarians work in small animal practices, treating dogs, cats and other pets. Other veterinarians may work in rural areas, travelling to farms to treat sick livestock. Regardless of whether they work in a small private practice in the suburbs, or are driving between dairy farms in the state's South West, veterinarians work long hours, and may have to remain on call in case of emergencies. When working with animals that are distressed or in pain, veterinarians must take special care to avoid being bitten, kicked or scratched. It's not just the animal that may be distressed, with veterinarians often having to soothe with emotional or demanding pet owners.

Tools and technologies

Veterinarians use a range of medical equipment, similar to that used by doctors treating humans, including stethoscopes and surgical instruments. They also use similar equipment for diagnosis, such as x-rays, ultrasounds and other radiographic machines.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a veterinarian, you need to study an accredited degree in veterinary science.

Murdoch University offers a five-year veterinary science degree, consisting of a three-year Bachelor of Science (Veterinary Biology) and a two-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. This is the only veterinary science degree in Western Australia. Contact the university for more information.

Required registration and licensing

To work as a veterinarian in Western Australia, you must obtain professional registration with the Veterinary Surgeons Board of Western Australia.