A Typical Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

Learn what it's like working in a veterinary career

A veterinarian observes a puppy
Skeeze / Pixabay / Creative Commons

A veterinarian is a challenging and rewarding career. There are a number of different settings that veterinarians can work in, such as private practice, large clinics, rescue facilities, and elsewhere. Each job will bring its own schedule, coworkers, and animal clients. The following is an example of a typical day in the life of a veterinarian, however, each day can be wildly different and can vary greatly depending on the setting and situation.

The Day Begins...

In the morning, all of the animals that have arrived from an overnight emergency clinic or were brought in the first thing in the morning are examined by a veterinarian. If a pet needs surgery or hospitalization, they are admitted to the clinic and prepared for surgery. This is followed by the morning rounds.  All patients currently in the clinic are examined and the owners updated with progress reports. At the same time, animals being admitted for surgery are examined and the upcoming procedure is discussed with the owner. After being admitted, the technicians (or doctor in some cases) draw blood samples for pre-surgery blood work and any other pre-surgery procedures will take place.

Next, it is time for appointments or surgery. Many veterinary clinics will do surgery as early in the day as possible. This allows the patient to recover throughout the day with plenty of staff around to monitor progress.

Appointments range from new puppy or kitten visits, vaccinations, sick animals, checking lumps and bumps, suture removals, and anything else that might occur. A veterinarian may also schedule an appointment for euthanasia. Surgeries are also scheduled; the most common surgeries are spays, neuters, tumor removals, dental cleanings, and tooth extractions.

Some veterinarians may choose to group certain types of appointments or surgeries together during specific office hours or days and others may not.


Most clinics stop taking appointments for an hour or two over the lunch hour. The office employees typically take this time to finish the surgery, return phone calls, check on animals recovering from anesthesia, check on hospital patients, occasionally see an emergency appointment, and hopefully...eat lunch. If an office has multiple veterinarians, the office may remain open during lunch time and each doctor will take his or her own break.

Afternoon to Closing Time

The afternoons are typically spent seeing more appointments. Sick and injured animals are examined and evaluated for stability. If an animal appears critical or needs monitoring overnight, they are referred to an emergency clinic. This often requires owner transport and cooperation, but most owners are more than willing to facilitate. Afternoon treatments are often for hospital cases, returned phone calls, and final notes before the day ends. Once the clinic closes, most veterinarians go home but their day may not be over. Many continue to think about the cases of the day and prepare for the next day.

Even if the office is closed overnight, most veterinarians have an overnight emergency phone number and can help patients reach a doctor at any time.