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The usual sign of a veterinary practice in Germany shows the staff of Aesculapia with a V for veterinary

A veterinarian , veterinarian , veterinarian (from French vétérinaire ; from Latin veterinarius = "belonging to the draft cattle") or veterinarian is a university graduate of veterinary medicine (veterinary medicine, veterinary medicine). This training qualifies, among other things, for medical care and treatment of animals.

In most countries, the professional title is protected and the practice of the profession requires a state permit ( Approbation ). In addition to the curative work in a veterinary practice or veterinary clinic , veterinarians are also active in the veterinary field , in research and in industry (especially in the pharmaceutical industry).


A veterinarian examines a puppy dog

Practice and clinic

Most veterinarians work as resident or employed veterinarians in a veterinary practice or veterinary clinic . The range of activities is primarily determined by the type of animals to be treated: If in the field of agriculture , especially livestock supplies ( large animal practice ), so take care of small animal veterinary practices in the urban area predominantly Home and pets and birds . In addition to exotic small animals, fish are of less importance in veterinary care due to their training (Ritter, 2007). Other practices specialize in B. on surgery , laboratory diagnostics , pathology or zoos .

In the 2000s, a further specialization emerged in the field of small animal and equine medicine. The proportion of veterinary clinics increased steadily. Modern diagnostic methods such as MRT , CT and Doppler sonography have also become established here in the last ten years before 2004.

The management of a veterinary medicine chest is derived in Germany from the dispensing law for practicing veterinarians.

Veterinarians charge for their services fees of animal owners; In Germany, minimum rates are set in the fee schedule for veterinarians (GOT). Most recently, the fees were increased by 12 percent on July 27, 2017, after 9 years without any increase. A serious illness of the animal can therefore represent a considerable financial burden, for which appropriate insurance can be taken out.

Other activities

Besides working as a practicing veterinarians Veterinarians also work in the Veterinary Administration (control of foodstuffs , animal disease control , animal welfare , etc., see the official veterinarian ) as well as in research , education and industry.

In 2011 around 5 percent of all veterinarians were employed in industry, 80 percent of them in the pharmaceutical industry.


Veterinary students doing practical exercises in equine dentistry

Vet training is a university degree in most countries around the world. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the university degree entitles the holder to use the professional title of veterinarian and to obtain state permission to practice the profession ( license to practice medicine ). In the USA, the professional degree is the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), while in the UK, Ireland and India a Bachelor's degree is obtained.

After completing the university studies, the title Doctor medicinae veterinariae (Dr. med. Vet.) Can be acquired by writing a scientific thesis ( dissertation ) . As in human medicine, it is possible to work on the dissertation while studying.

Postgraduate studies require further veterinary training and the possibility of qualifying as a specialist veterinarian . Internationally, there are postgraduate courses for the Diplomate of the European College or the Diplomate of the American College .

"DVM" stands for "Diplom Veterinärmediziner" in Germany and was awarded in the GDR after the university reform in the seventies of the twentieth century. The aim of this university reform was, among other things, to equate medical degrees with technical degrees. While an engineering degree was awarded for technical degrees from a college or university degree and a diploma was awarded after writing a scientific thesis, the completion of a medical degree with a scientific thesis was associated with the award of the doctoral degree. This meant that "doctor" was a job title, not an academic degree. For a doctoral degree in other disciplines, a second scientific work and a number of specialist publications had to be proven. This special status of medical and veterinary medicine training should be abolished. After the university reform and until 1989, the student of medicine and veterinary medicine graduated with the title “doctor” or “veterinarian”, and when he had completed a scientific thesis, he was awarded a diploma and he was a “diploma veterinarian ". This is why this designation only appears on the practice signs of a certain age group. For the title "Dr." a second scientific paper was necessary, which was usually difficult to accomplish under practical conditions.

Veterinarians in Germany

The profession of veterinarian is a classic chamber profession in Germany .

Professional code

The nature of the veterinary profession is defined in the professional code for veterinarians:

"The veterinarian is called to prevent, alleviate and cure ailments and diseases in animals, to contribute to the maintenance and development of an efficient animal population, to protect people from dangers and damage from animal diseases and from food and products of animal origin and to increase it to contribute to the quality of food of animal origin. The veterinary profession is not a trade; by its nature it is a free profession . "


Every veterinarian is a member of a veterinary chamber , a professional body under public law . The veterinary chambers regulate the concerns of veterinarians in their profession and their training issues. The veterinary associations are merged in the Federal Veterinary Association.

Veterinarians usually acquire their pension entitlements as members of a professional pension fund.


According to the on behalf of the German Veterinary Association created statistics 42,709 veterinarians were on 31 December 2019 in Germany veterinary medical associations reported (proportion of women 62.1%). 31,888 of them worked as veterinarians (53.1% women). A total of 10,821 were not or no longer active as a veterinarian. After deducting the doctoral students and retirees included here, 667 were unemployed (downward trend), 1,551 did not work and 1,155 pursued a non-professional activity.

The veterinary degree is still attractive. From the end of 2001 to the end of 2006, the total number of veterinarians increased by 3,362. In the 2006/2007 winter semester, 6,522 students were enrolled at the veterinary educational institutions (86% women). In 2006, 888 students took the state examinations in the field of veterinary medicine in Germany. In the 2017/18 winter semester, 6,367 students were enrolled, the proportion of women was 92.7%, and 883 students passed the state examination in 2018.


The veterinarians are entitled to remuneration for their professional activity (fees, compensation, cash expenses as well as remuneration for drugs and consumables). The fees for services are regulated in the fee schedule for veterinarians , in particular in the annex to the fee schedule for ( § 1 Paragraph 1 GOT). Unlike medical treatments in the field of human medicine, veterinary services are not exempt from sales tax (Section 1 (2) GOT, Section 4 No. 14 lit. a UStG).

According to the report by the Federal Statistical Office on the cost structure of veterinary practices from 2010, the average net income (total income minus costs) per resident practice owner was 72,000 euros in 2007:

Type of veterinary practice Average annual net income per practice owner 2007 (rounded to EUR thousand)
Veterinary practices overall 72,000 euros
Individual practices 58,000 euros
of which: individual practices for small animals 45,000 euros
of which: individual practices for large animals 83,000 euros
of which: individual practices for small and large animals 68,000 euros


The Indian scholar Shalihotra (2350 BC) is considered to be the first veterinarian . His work Shalihotra Samhita described anatomy, physiology and diseases and their treatment in horses and elephants. The ancient Greek scholars Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote the first reports on animal diseases in Europe in the 5th and 4th centuries BC. In particular the care of the horses of the cavalry and the rampant rinderpest in Europe led to the veterinarian being established as an academic profession in the 18th century. The first veterinary training center was established in Lyon in 1761 , followed by those in Maisons-Alfort and Vienna in 1766 . In 1771, at the instigation of Johann Erxleben, the first veterinary training center in Germany was founded with the veterinary institute of the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen . In 1907 the first veterinary chamber was formed in Baden .

See also

Web links

Commons : Veterinary Medicine  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files
Wiktionary: Veterinarian  - explanations of meanings, origins of words, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Thomas Steindl: Editorial. In: Dt. TAB. Volume 65, 2017, Issue 8, p. 1045.
  2. Federal Veterinary Association , accessed on October 8, 2018
  3. ^ Federal Veterinary Regulations
  4. in: Deutsches Tierärzteblatt. (DTBL) Volume 68, June 2020, pp. 860–870.
  5. Deutsches Tierärzteblatt. (DTBL) Volume 67, June 2019, pp. 800–810.
  6. Fee schedule for veterinarians (Tierärztegeschätzeordnung - GOT) of July 28, 1999 ( BGBl. I p. 1691 )
  7. Cost structure at veterinary practices (PDF file)
  8. ^ GK Singh and RS Chauhan: History of Veterinary Anatomy . In: Advances in Veterinary Anatomy . 2001 ( online ( memento from December 26, 2005 in the Internet Archive ))
  9. ^ Lothar H. Wieler : Tierseuchen. Infectious diseases that affect everyone. (Full text)
  10. a b Angela von den Driesch : History of veterinary medicine . Munich: Callwey-Verlag.