A veterinarian is a medical professional who protects the health and well-being of both animals and people. They diagnose and control animal diseases and treat sick and injured animals. They also advise owners on proper care of their pets and livestock. Veterinarians provide a wide range of services in private practice, teaching, research, government service, public health, military service, private industry, and other areas.
When taking the veterinarian’s oath, a doctor solemnly swears to use his or her scientific knowledge and skills “for the benefit of society, through the protection of animal health, the relief of animal suffering, the conservation of animal resources, the promotion of public health, and the advancement of medical knowledge.”
- Diagnoses animal health problems
- Vaccinates against diseases, such as distemper and rabies
- Medicates animals suffering from infections or illnesses
- Treats and dresses wounds
- Sets fractures
- Performs minor to complex surgery, depending on training
- Advises owners about animal feeding, behavior and breeding
- Euthanizes animals when necessary
- Provides preventive care to maintain the health of livestock
- Performs diagnostic tests such as X-ray, EKG, ultrasound, blood, urine, and faeces
In many respects, a veterinarian is similar to a pediatrician. Animals cannot talk like human beings, and much of the clinical history is obtained from the owner or client, as a pediatrician would obtain from a child’s parents. Excellent people skills and communication skills are required.
What cannot be obtained from the clinical history is acquired with the fingers, eyes, and smell. The ability to listen with a stethoscope and palpate with the fingers and hands will reveal much of the physical findings. The sense of smell is also important in detecting the fruity odor of the ketotic cow’s breath, or the urea from the breath of a cat in renal failure.
What cannot be revealed by the history and exam is further supported by diagnostic tests like blood work, urinalysis, and fecal exams. Veterinarians are well trained in laboratory medicine and parasitology.
The general practice veterinarian spends one-third to one-half of his or her time in surgery. Animal neutering operations are done in most veterinarians’ offices. Many veterinarians also perform orthopedic procedures, bone setting, dentistry, and trauma surgery. Surgery requires good hand and eye coordination, and fine motor skills. A veterinarian’s job is similar to that of a human doctor.
When health problems arise, veterinarians diagnose the problem and treat the animal. Accurate diagnosis frequently requires laboratory tests, radiography, and specialized equipment. Treatments may involve a number of different procedures including emergency lifesaving techniques, prescribing medication, setting fractures, birthing, performing surgery, or advising an owner on feeding and care of the animal.
To prevent the introduction of foreign diseases, veterinarians employed by government agencies quarantine and inspect animals brought into the country from other countries. They supervise shipments of animals, test for the presence of diseases and manage campaigns to prevent and eradicate many diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, and rabies, which threaten animal and human health.
A veterinarian in research looks for better ways to prevent and solve animal and human health problems. Many problems, such as cancer and heart disease, are studied through the use of laboratory animals, which are carefully bred, raised, and maintained under the supervision of veterinarians.
There are many veterinarians that are professors, teaching at schools and universities of veterinary medicine. In addition to teaching, veterinary school faculty members conduct basic and clinical research, contribute to scientific publications, and develop continuing education programs to help graduate veterinarians acquire new knowledge and skills.
Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB)
In Kenya, veterinarians are normally licensed by Kenya Veterinary Board (KVB) every year to be allowed to practice. KVB is a constitutional board which regulates all matters of veterinary practice and certifies institutions of higher learning, which train individuals on all aspects of animal health from certificate to degree holders. This oversight body gives professionals in animal health unique identification cards complete with their board registration numbers, qualifications and identity numbers. These cards should be produced to every farmer on demand.
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