Are Vets Doctors or Not? Here’s What You Don’t Know

Can all vets also be considered doctors? The opinions are divided on whether you can call a vet a doctor or not. Some insist that veterinarians are more accurately referred to as Doctors of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). Others will argue that in fact, all vets are doctors.

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to refer to “veterinarians” as vets for short. And in case you’re still wondering, are vets doctors? Of course, vets can also be called doctors.

However, let’s take a deeper look at vets and how they differ from other doctors so we can see what makes them similar.

Read on to learn more.

Who are Vets?

Vets, also known as veterinarians or Pet Doctors, are medical professionals who provide treatment and care for pets, livestock, zoo animals, and other animals.

They diagnose illness and injury in pets and prescribe medications to treat them, as well as perform surgeries when needed.

While they can also be referred to as doctors, vets, or pet doctors are different from the popularly known doctors (physicians). One sees the healthiness of animals while the other caters to humans. More about this later.

Veterinarians typically specialize in a certain area of medicine such as small animal practice (cats and dogs), large animal practice (horses), or avian (birds).

Many veterinarians also choose to pursue additional education in the area of surgery, anesthesiology, or dentistry so they can work with more complex procedures.

What Does a Vet Do?

Generally, vets provide medical care for animals. Some of their responsibilities include:

  • Advising clients on the care of their pets
  • Administering immunizations
  • Conducting physical examinations
  • Providing emergency care
  • Performing surgery and dental procedures
  • Prescribing medication
  • Euthanizing animals

Vets can effectively communicate with animal owners in addition to diagnosing and treating their pets. This frequently entails describing diagnoses and treatments in straightforward, everyday terms.

What’s the Difference Between a Doctor and a Vet?

What makes a doctor and a veterinarian differ is the kind of patients they treats. The most obvious difference between a doctor and a vet is that a doctor treats humans and a vet treats animals.

A doctor is someone who has received a medical degree from an accredited university and has been licensed by their state board to practice medicine.

A vet is someone who has received a veterinary degree from an accredited university and has been licensed by their state board to practice veterinary medicine.

Vets are registered with their state board of veterinary medical examiners and doctors, on the other hand, are licensed by their state’s medical board. However, both must meet certain requirements to practice medicine in that state.

Animal Health Technicians Vs. Vets (Pet Doctors)

If you’re looking for pet care, you may have noticed that there are two types of professionals available: “pet doctors” (veterinarians) and “animal health technicians.”

Pet doctors provide medical care for pets, while animal health technicians provide routine care like vaccinations, checkups, grooming, surgery, and more.

Your vet will most likely refer you to an animal health technician if your pet needs regular care but doesn’t need any major medical attention at this time.

Vets’ Salary Vs. Doctors’ Salary Per Year

According to the US Bureau of Labour Statistics, the average salary of vets per year was $100,370 as of May 2021. This is the amount at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less.

Also, BLS states that the lowest 10 percent earned less than $60,760, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $165,600.

Still, following the BLS report, the average salary for healthcare practitioners and technical occupations (such as registered nurses, physicians and surgeons, and dental hygienists) per year was $75,040.

This is higher than the median annual wage for all occupations in the economy of $45,760.

However, this median wage also depends on factors like level of education, area of specialization, and region (country) among others.

What Does the Job Outlook for Vets Look Like?

According to BLS projections, from 2020 to 2030, available jobs for vets are expected to grow by 17%. That’s much faster than the average for all occupations.

On average, over the decade, BLS projected about 4,400 available jobs for vets each year.

These jobs are expected to be available as a result of the need to replace workers who change careers/jobs or exit the labor force.

What Skills Do You Need as a Vet?

The range of skills that veterinarians need includes critical thinking, interpersonal skills, problem-solving and scientific aptitude. They also must have extensive knowledge of animal anatomy and physiology, as well as specific areas of veterinary medicine.

Some other skills a vet usually possesses include:

  • Animal handling skills
  • Practical skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Organizational skills
  • Technical skills


Are vets referred to as doctors?

Vets can also be called doctors. After all, the D in their degree DVM (Doctors of Veterinary Medicine) stands for Doctors.

What do you need to become a vet?

To become a vet, you must have a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from an accredited university or veterinary college, as well as a state license.

Can human doctors treat animals?

Medically speaking, human doctors are not allowed to treat animals, but in an emergency situation, they might.

Is it harder to be a vet or a doctor?

Like every other degree and profession, becoming a vet or doctor is not easy. However, becoming a doctor is harder because it takes long years of study compared to becoming a vet.

Conclusion: Is a Vet a Medical Doctor?

Finally, while they are not the same as medical doctors, vets can also be called doctors. They are the medical professionals who provide care for animals.

Vets generally work long hours and often travel between their offices and clients’ homes or farms to provide care for animals.

Some veterinarians also have to do research on new treatments or diseases that affect animals so they can keep up with the latest developments in their field.

The profession is highly competitive and requires a commitment of time and money that some people may find daunting. But don’t let that deter you from pursuing this rewarding field of work.

Veterinary medicine offers excellent job security, good pay, and the chance to work with animals. And if you choose to specialize, there are dozens of specialties available in areas such as surgery, emergency medicine, and dentistry.

I hope you found this article helpful. You should check out the degree pages of the website. There are helpful articles that will point you to what you can do with whatever degree you choose to pursue.

Thank you for reading.