Types of Veterinary Practices

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  • 0:01 Small Animal Practice
  • 1:17 Large Animal Practice
  • 2:20 Beyond the Small & Large
  • 3:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson will go over the major kinds of veterinary practices and what kinds of animals they may treat, including small animals, large animals and exotics. A short quiz follows the video.

Small Animal Practice

The different kinds of veterinary practice types are almost as diverse as the kinds of animals veterinarians treat. The mainstay, and probably most famous, practice type in veterinary medicine is the small animal practice, sometimes called a companion animal practice, which is a veterinary clinic or hospital that primarily treats dogs and cats.

In some cases, a small animal practice may have veterinarians willing and able to treat other kinds of small creatures, like birds, rodents and reptiles. It should be noted that not all small animal practices are created equal. Some treat only one species, like cats.

Some are small clinics, with one or two veterinarians who may operate a general practice or specialty clinic, and others are emergency hospitals that offer care 24/7. Others still are hospitals or specialty centers with dozens of veterinarians, ranging from general practitioners to specialists of almost any kind.

I should note that in veterinary medicine the term 'clinic' and 'hospital' is loosely used. There may be a veterinary 'hospital' near you that only has a couple veterinarians on staff.

Large Animal Practice

In direct contrast to the small animal practice is the large animal practice, a veterinary clinic or hospital that treats food animals, equines or both. Food animals that veterinarians treat include cattle, sheep, goats, swine, llamas and alpacas. As you can tell, the term food animal isn't limited to animals we eat. Llamas and alpacas are not a staple meat in the American diet, and thus, food animal veterinarians treat many animals used for food and other products, such as wool.

And some veterinarians work for a mixed animal practice, a combination of a large animal and small animal practice. Some of these practices treat mainly large animals, others treat mainly small animals and some an equal number of both. As with small animal practitioners, large animal practitioners can establish specialty clinics or hospitals where advanced medical care is provided for large animals.

Beyond the Small & Large Animal Practice

Of course, there are plenty of other types of practices in veterinary medicine. Some veterinary establishments are exotic-only animal practices, which have veterinarians with advanced knowledge of pet fish, amphibians, reptiles, rodents and birds that many small animal practitioners do not. Still, others work in a zoo hospital or in a wildlife rehabilitation center.

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