Small Animal Medicine

What animals do they work with?

  • Household pets like cats and dogs
  • And much more!

Where do they work?

  • Private practice, corporate practice, animal shelter, university animal hospital
  • Some may have a mobile practice and/or make house calls

What do they do?

  • Perform physical examinations
  • Diagnose disease and illness
  • Use surgical skills and medication to treat patients
  • Vaccinate animals against disease
  • Help prevent spread of disease
  • Educate pet owners to keep pets happy and healthy
Small Animal General Practice

Small animal practitioners typically take care of cats and dogs.


Exotic animal veterinarians can care for a variety of exotic animals that may include small mammals, reptiles, and birds depending on their interest and expertise. Some of these veterinarians care for exotics in addition to cats and dogs, while others exclusively care for exotic animals.

Shelter Medicine

Veterinarians who work in animal shelters care for animals waiting to find new homes. This area is unique in that the veterinarian is focused not just on the individual animal’s care, but the whole population within the shelter or facility.


Veterinarians may also choose to further their education and become board-certified in one of twenty-two different specialties recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). Some of these specialties include pathology, dentistry, internal medicine, surgery, radiology, and more. To be considered, a veterinarian often completes a one-year internship before applying to a rigorous three-year residency program in their field of choice. Other veterinarians choose to forgo the internship and go out into the workforce right out of veterinary school, and then later down the road they may decide to apply for a residency program. The residency program offers additional training and experience in a specific field. Veterinarians who specialize can work either in private practice or in a university setting. Upon completion of additional training and board exams, veterinarians can be board certified in various areas of practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). Learn more here.


Some veterinarians may choose to practice exclusively with one type of animal, for example there are feline veterinarians who work exclusively with cats.