Veterinary Studies in Canada

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association offers practical advice on applying to veterinary courses.

Preparing for veterinary studies

Students who are interested in becoming a veterinarian should select courses in science at the high school level and discuss a suitable preparatory academic programme with a well-informed guidance counsellor. Science courses such as biology, chemistry and physics form a foundation upon which further education will rest, but optional courses in the humanities and social sciences are recommended, as well as a strong background in mathematics. If working in a clinic upon graduation is of interest, students should consider taking degree courses in business administration, management or entrepreneurship. A student must also plan to gain practical experience by working with several animal species. Voluntary experience and employment with a veterinarian is helpful in gaining insight into the profession and references from these sources are part of the admission requirements.

Veterinary studies in Canada

To obtain a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) degree in Canada, a minimum of six years of university education is required: two years of pre-veterinary study at a regular university, followed by four years of courses in veterinary medicine at one of the five Canadian veterinary colleges (five years in the province of Quebec). Some colleges are adjusting their pre-veterinary requirements and introducing curriculum changes to reflect the changing face of the profession.

Guidance counsellors should be able to advise students regarding these changes. In Canada, the number of students that can be accommodated in a veterinary school is limited. Canadian veterinary colleges currently graduate about 400 veterinarians each year.

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association

Canada’s veterinarians are represented by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), a national professional association that encourages veterinarians to uphold high medical and professional standards and supports them in their practices. The CVMA promotes veterinary medicine to the public, advocates responsible treatment of animals and provides professional development opportunities. It also publishes two scientific journals and authoritative position statements on veterinary medicine and animal health and welfare issues. The CVMA administers the National Examining Board examination and oversees the Canadian Veterinary Reserve, a source of pre-trained veterinarians and animal health technologists who may be called upon in declared emergencies to supplement relief efforts.

Practicing Veterinary Medicine in Canada

Canada has over 11,000 veterinarians working in a number of different fields:

  • Private practice 75% of Canadian veterinarians work in small, large or mixed animal practices or in specialised practices dealing with one species or discipline
  • Government 10% of Canadian veterinarians work for some level of government
  • Teaching and research 5% of Canadian veterinarians are in teaching and research
  • Industry 6% of veterinarians hold various occupations in the veterinary industry
  • The remaining 4% of veterinarians work in other related fields.

Visit for more information on veterinary medicine in Canada. This article was written by Kristin McEvoy, Communications Officer, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association