Animal Doctor Course and Class Overviews

Jan 02, 2019

Animal doctors take veterinary medicine courses as part of a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree program, a graduate-level program that takes four years to complete. Most programs offer similar core classes.

Essential Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of 2014, there were only 30 veterinary medicine schools in the U.S. in 2014. Veterinary medicine classes include anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, along with extensive clinical training. Specialization is possible in subjects like small animal, equine and food animal care.

Here are a few common concepts found in animal doctor courses:

  • Analysis of animal body systems
  • Diagnosing animal sickness
  • Treatments
  • Animal observation
  • Professionalism and respect

List of Common Courses

Anatomy Course

Gross anatomy specifically related to animals is studied through lectures, classroom demonstrations and lab work. Lessons focus on the form and function of major bones, organs, muscles and joints of domesticated animals in theory and through study of preserved specimens and radiographs. This required class usually includes vivisection and is typically one of the first courses completed in an animal doctor degree program.

Physiology Course

This broad overview of the body systems of common domesticated animals covers the endocrine, respiratory, nervous, digestive, reproductive, cardiovascular and renal systems. Students attend lectures and participate in labs. This is a required foundation class.

Pathology Course

Required animal doctor courses typically include a study of common diseases and their causes. Students study what causes disease in animals and how diseases progress, including symptoms and recommended treatments. Lessons cover general pathology as well as conditions related to particular species.

Pharmacology Course

In this class, usually taken after general anatomy, physiology and pathology classes, students learn about common drugs used by veterinarians and their effects on animals. Topics of discussion include common medications, guidelines for prescription, potential contraindications and common side effects.

Anesthesia and Surgery Course

Students explore surgical concepts in theory and application. They learn how to diagnose conditions for which surgery is appropriate and surgical techniques. Administration of pain relief and associated monitoring related to surgery and anesthesia are discussed. Students learn common procedures for pre- and post-operative animal care.

Managing an Animal Care Practice Course

For animal doctors interested in operating their own practices, this usually optional class may be taken late in an academic program. Students learn basic concepts in marketing, advertising and finance. Ethical and legal considerations are also discussed along with personnel and human resources topics.

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