South Africa’s biodiversity includes a wide range of key animal species that attracts a wide spectrum of local and foreign visitors and supports local livelihoods. Similarly its animal production sector, domestic, small scale and commercial, also make key economic, social and environmental contributions. The practice of veterinary sciences, involving the treatment and care of all types of animals is key to conservation, the agricultural production industry as well as the domestic care of household pets.

Veterinarians diagnose, treat and prevent animal diseases, ailments and injuries. They vaccinate against diseases, medicate animals suffering from infections or illness, treat and dress wounds, set fractures, perform surgical or dental procedures and advise owners about animal feeding, behaviour and breeding. Some conduct clinical research on the spread of animal diseases or inspect livestock to advise on breeding programmes or disease treatment. They can also manage veterinary practice operations, finances and recruit appropriate staff for assistance.

Veterinarians work closely with veterinary nurses and may consult animal behaviourists. They may need to travel to treat food producing animals or advise on an individual wild animal or animal population. They often work long hours and may be called at any time in emergencies.


Veterinarians need to have a comprehensive knowledge and practical understanding of the physiology, nutrition and behaviour of a variety animals, coupled with:

  • Ability to diagnose and address animal health problems
  • Experience in performing clinical and surgical procedures
  • Methodical and analytical problem-solving skills
  • Ability to simply communicate diagnoses with empathy


Treat animals medically and surgically and perform autopsies

Determine the presence and nature of abnormal conditions in animals

Test and inoculate animals against infectious diseases

Advise clients on health, nutrition, feeding, hygiene, breeding and care of animals


B.VSc. at UP

Medical registration of veterinarians is a requirement for practice.


Private veterinary practices and hospitals.

Government veterinary providers.

NGOs, animal shelters and zoos.

Research institutions.

Medical and pharmaceutical laboratories.

Wildlife rehabilitation centres.

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