Federation of Veterinarians of Europe
At a Glance

A veterinarian or a veterinary surgeon , often shortened to vet, is a doctor for animals and a practitioner of veterinary medicine. The word comes from the Latin veterinae meaning "draught animals."
Today's veterinarians are in the unique position of being the only doctors educated to protect the health of both animals and people. They are not only educated to protect the health care of pets, livestock as well as zoo, exotic, competition and laboratory animals but they play an important role in environmental protection, food safety and public health.

Like human doctors, veterinarians must make serious ethical decisions about their patients' care. For example, there is ongoing debate within the profession over the ethics of castrating piglets and slaughter without

Currently around 200.000 veterinarians actively practice in Europe. The profession is growing annually. Veterinary medicine, previously a male-dominated profession, has experienced a significant increase in the number of women studying at veterinary colleges and practising in all fields of the profession

Much of the legislation which governs the veterinary profession originates in Brussels.  Whether in the field of professional conduct, animal health, veterinary medicinal products, animal welfare or public health, by the time the legislation gets to the national governments, all that is left for discussion is the detail of implementation.

It is therefore imperative that the veterinary profession has an active and effective voice in the European institutions.  The key route into these corridors of power is the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), representing the views of approximately 200,000 veterinarians from 38 European countries, under the banner of ‘one profession, one vision, one voice’.

Employment opportunities for veterinarians are numerous and include private or corporate clinical practice, teaching and research, regulatory medicine, public health, and military service.


Clinical Practice

Practising veterinarians are no doubt the best known sector of the veterinary profession, made popular by the famous James Herriot-books and by many television series. Veterinary practitioners diagnose animal health problems, medicate those with infections or disease, vaccinate them against major diseases, treat and dress wounds, perform surgery.

In Europe, approximately 60% of veterinarians are engaged in the exciting field of private or corporate clinical practice.

Of these, many treat only pets such as dogs, cats, birds, small mammals (e.g., hamsters, guinea pigs), reptiles, and fish. Other veterinarians limit their practice to the care of farm/ranch; some exclusively treat horses; and still others treat a combination of all species.

Within FVE, practicing veterinarians are represented by the European Union of Veterinary Practitioners UEVP (European Union of Veterinary Practitioners).


Public Health

Veterinarians contribute to human as well as animal health. Many veterinarians work in the sector of food hygiene, where they protect the health of the consumer by watching over the safety of food products of animal origin, such as milk, meat, eggs and honey. They check and advise on how to prevent the possible contamination of food with germs, residues of medicines or environmental pollution.
Within the FVE, veterinary hygienists are federated in the European Union of Veterinary Hygienists UEVH (European Union of Veterinary Hygienists).


State Veterinary Officers

Veterinarians who work for the government serve the public by preventing animal disease and promoting food safety. They may act as livestock inspectors, checking animals for transmissible diseases or carry out inspections in slaughterhouses.

To prevent the introduction of foreign diseases into Europe, veterinarians are employed by state and federal regulatory agencies to quarantine and inspect animals and animal products brought into the country. They supervise interstate shipments of animals, test for diseases, and manage campaigns to prevent and eradicate diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, BSE, and rabies that pose threats to animal and human health.

Veterinarians also monitor the development and testing of new vaccines to ensure their safety and effectiveness and are responsible for enforcing animal welfare.

Within FVE, contacts between State veterinarians are promoted by the EASVO (European Association of State Veterinary Officers).


Teaching and Research

Veterinarians may use their education to instruct veterinary students, other medical professionals, and scientists. Veterinary college/school faculty members conduct research, teach, and develop continuing education programs to help practicing veterinarians acquire new knowledge and skills.

Veterinarians employed in research at universities, colleges, governmental agencies, or in industry are dedicated to finding new ways to prevent and treat animal and human health disorders. Veterinarians are also employed in management, technical sales and services, and other positions in agribusinesses, pet food companies, and pharmaceutical companies.

Within FVE, contacts between veterinarians working in education, research and industry are promoted by EVERI (European Association of Veterinarians in Education, Research and Industry).


Other Professional Activities

Veterinarians also work in the military service and are responsible for food safety, veterinary care of government-owned animals, bioterrorism protection and biomedical research and development.
Some veterinarians also work in zoologic medicine, aquatic animal medicine, aerospace medicine (shuttle astronauts), animal shelter medicine, sports medicine (race horses, greyhounds), animal-assisted activity and therapy programs, and wildlife medicine also employ veterinarians. Two veterinarians have even traveled into space as part of the NASA space shuttle program!