Veterinarians provide animal health and welfare services, and are involved in food safety, public health and environmental management. In general, they:
- perform routine, emergency and post-mortem examinations
- diagnose diseases
- provide advice regarding preventative health care and herd health
- inoculate animals against infectious diseases
- treat a wide range of injuries and disease conditions
- perform dental procedures on various species
- perform surgery on animals
- provide obstetrical and embryo transfer services
- keep records of sick animals
- provide euthanasia services when necessary.
Diagnosing and treating diseases, injuries and other conditions often involves:
- collecting, examining and analyzing body tissue, feces, blood, urine or other body fluids
- taking and interpreting x-rays
- administering anesthesia and performing exploratory surgery.
Preventive medical services include:
- parasite control programs
- vaccination programs against common viral and bacterial diseases
- routine examinations
- consultations regarding hygiene, nutrition, and general care and breeding of animals
- quality assurance programs for food animal species.
Some veterinarians operate mixed animal practices, providing services for a wide range of animals. Others restrict their practices to particular types of animals such as:
- food-producing animals (beef and dairy cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry or fish)
- domestic pets and small animals
- exotic birds and animals
- wildlife and alternative livestock
- aquatic species.
Some veterinarians specialize in a medical discipline such as reproduction, surgery, oncology, dentistry, anesthesiology, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, cardiology or pathology. Veterinarians who work with large animals may focus their practice on herd health where head management, monitoring and regulatory medicine are important.
In addition to the above duties, veterinarians who own private practices have all the responsibilities of small business owners (for example, human resources and financial management, inventory management, marketing).
In salaried positions, veterinarians may provide wildlife conservation, public health, food safety, agriculture development, disease surveillance or animal welfare services.