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Veterinary Science » Learn More

Veterinary Science has a broader scope than what you would initially imagine. There is a common assumption that vets primarily work in clinical practices looking after our sick pets. However, they are actually employed in a wide range of areas, including the agriculture and forestry industries. Veterinarians are responsible for ensuring that exotic diseases do not enter New Zealand and if they do, they are responsible for dealing with them. Veterinarians are also active in research, examining animal health and disease and the link between animal infections and human health.

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As a Veterinary Science student you will begin your studies by learning the fundamental theory and practices associated with the field. As your studies progress, you will be given the opportunity to tailor your courses to an area you are interested in. The following are summaries of a few of the main areas in which you can specialise:

  • Large animal practice: veterinarians specialising in large animals, usually farm animals, work to diagnose and treat disease and ensure the overall welfare of the animals. However, veterinarians working in this field also assist in the planning and development of flock and heard health programmes. Their expertise lends itself to ensuring the productivity of the agricultural industry. They are also responsible for detecting exotic diseases and pests and play a large role in national disease control.
  • Equine practice: equine practice refers to the clinical treatment of only horses. New Zealand has a positive international reputation for our ability to rear world-class racehorses. 
  • Companion animal practice: this refers to the care of family pets. Veterinarians who specialise in this area will learn how to diagnose and treat illnesses such as diabetes and cancer, as well as perform surgeries and repair bone fractures.
  • New Zealand food safety authority: as a veterinarian you may also choose to work for the New Zealand government in ensuring that the safety standards for exports of animal products are met. Common responsibilities include quality control and meat and dairy products.
  • Agriculture and forestry: a veterinarian working in agriculture and forestry industries is responsible for helping to develop biosecurity standards in the importation and exportation of animals. You may also wish to work with quarantine services to protect New Zealand animals against risk of foreign disease.
  • Veterinary research: veterinary research is conducted in many different areas. If you wish to become a veterinary researcher, it is likely that you will need another qualification in an associated area such as microbiology, biochemistry, diagnostic pathology, etc. In New Zealand, this area of Veterinary Science is working with sectors in the agriculture industry in looking at ways that the productivity of these sectors can be improved – e.g., artificial breeding.