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What Is a Small Animal Veterinarian and How to Become One

What Do Small Animal Veterinarians Do?

Small animal veterinarians provide medical care to pets and other small, domesticated animals. As a small animal veterinarian, you use your skills and education to diagnose and treat illnesses in a variety of domesticated animals. Your job duties include administering vaccines or necessary medicines to animals, dressing wounds and resetting fractures, and advising owners on how to properly care for their small animals or domestic pets. You typically work with dogs and cats, but you should also be able to work with birds, reptiles, and rabbits. Small animal veterinarians also conduct research to solve health problems in animals, and in severe cases, you might perform surgery and euthanize sick animals.

How to Become a Small Animal Veterinarian

The qualifications needed for a career as a small animal veterinarian include a doctorate in veterinary sciences. These education programs are competitive and generally take four additional years on top of your undergraduate program. After finishing school, you must earn a license to practice in your state and complete a year-long internship program to gain on-the-job experience. You can seek a specialization through a board certification or work as a general veterinarian at an existing practice. Some states also require you to obtain additional licensure to practice medicine, even on small animals.