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Pet doctors: price, qualifications and important facts

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Pet Doctor Veterinarians, more commonly known as vets, are there to treat your animals when they get sick. Discover what title a vet uses and how to search for a vet near you. 

Just like us humans, when your pet is sick it often needs to go see a doctor.

Animals, in fact, need to visit a vet, who is a highly skilled healthcare professional yet who is not at all the same as a human doctor.

Can you call a vet to your house?

Many vet practices will offer a house visit service. This can be helpful if a pet is very sick or you are unable to get them to the vets. However, it is often better to take your pet to the practice where the vet has all the equipment and facilities to help them assess and treat your pet more thoroughly. A vet will be much more limited if they are visiting your home. If you are concerned about getting your pet to your local practice, it is best to discuss with a vet whether a home visit would be appropriate. There are some local animal ambulances that are sometimes a good option for transporting your pet to the clinic.

How much does it cost for a vet home visit?

The cost of a home visit will vary depending on your practice, so for any questions relating to fees you should contact them directly. Some areas have pet-friendly taxi services who might be happy to transport you and your pet to the practice as an alternative.

What is a dog doctor called?

A veterinary surgeon treats all animals including dogs, so the name vet covers pretty much everything in the animal kingdom.

Do vets get the title of Dr?

The question of veterinary titles is a complicated one. Since 2015, UK registered vets can choose to use the honorific title Dr. Prior to this vets were not referred to as doctors because all vets are actually veterinary surgeons. In human medicine a surgeon is referred to as Mr/Mrs/Miss rather than doctor, therefore veterinary surgeons adopted this same system. It is the choice of each individual vet whether they refer to themselves as Dr or by an alternative title.  

Are vets Dr or Mr/Mrs/Miss?

As discussed above, a UK-registered vet can choose whether to be referred to as Dr or even as Mr/Mrs/Miss.

Do you address a vet as doctor?

How to address a vet will depend on their preference. Some vets may prefer to be referred to as doctor, but at many practices it has become more common to refer to a vet by their first name. If you are unsure you can ask at the vet practice reception.

Are vets more qualified than doctors?

Although the veterinary and medical professions have many similarities, there are lots of differences too. It is not possible to compare these professions as more or less qualified than the other because vets and doctors are trained in different skills and to treat different species.

Can a vet become a human doctor?

A vet can only become a human doctor if they re-train at university and attain a medical degree. The same goes for human doctors, who are unable to treat animals without re-training as a vet. Under the 1966 Veterinary Surgeons Act, only vets are allowed to treat animals. There are some diseases that can affect both animals and people, so at a global scale many vets and doctors are working together to collaborate on projects, a concept known as ‘One Health’.

Which is better: MBBS or veterinary?

University degrees to become human doctors (MBBS or Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) or animal vets can both be great career choices. If you are interested in studying either at university, you can contact universities to find out more information. It is also important to take a look at any admissions requirements, such as work experience. It can be helpful to chat to current medic and vet professionals for advice.

What letters do vets have after their name?

The majority of UK-registered vets will have MRCVS after their name. This stands for ‘Member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’. Some vets might have the letters FRCVS, which stands for ‘Fellow of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’. The RCVS is the regulatory body for vets and a UK vet must be a member or fellow of the RCVS in order to practice. You can find a vet online here.

What is the difference between a vet and a veterinary nurse?

Both vets and veterinary nurses are protected professions. This means that you can only work as a vet or vet nurse if you have the required qualifications and are registered with the professional body. Vet nurses are often referred to as RVN (registered veterinary nurse) or SVN (student veterinary nurse). Vets and vet nurses are both highly skilled roles that require a significant amount of training.

It is difficult to give a brief summary of the work that a vet or vet nurse does, as they are both able to carry out a large number of roles within the practice. The roles that they can carry out are protected by legislation and the differences are covered under Schedule 3 of the Veterinary Surgeons Act. Some differences include that vets are able to diagnose health problems, perform surgery and prescribe medications. Vet nurses will be carrying out roles such as taking bloods, assisting with anaesthesia, performing certain types of minor surgery and supplying some categories of animal medicines.

What is the difference between a vet and a veterinary surgeon?

All vets are qualified as veterinary surgeons. Surgery training forms part of the university curriculum for vet students and most general practitioner vets will do a mixture of consulting and surgery during the course of their work week.

Can a vet operate on a human?

A vet is not qualified to operate on a human or to provide any medical treatment. Vets work with a range of other species including cats, dogs, small pets, horses, farm animals and even zoo animals.

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