A vet in Australia is carefully examining a dog's ear with a stethoscope.

Find Out How to Celebrate Australian Vets for World Vet Day

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Is there an increasing demand for vets in Australia? Yes, there certainly aren’t enough vets for the animals that need them. World Vet Day is a chance to thank our vets for keeping pets safe and healthy in their hour of need, all the while dealing with a range of pressures on their work.

Vets play a central part in the animal human bond. Let’s take a moment to find out more about this annual day that celebrates the essential medical work vets do and take a peek into some of the unique industry issues they face.

a women chooses a comprehensive plan for her cat after comparing pet plans

What is World Vet Day?

World Vet Day is an international celebration of the world’s animal doctors, from those who treat our pets to those who work in conservation and farming.

Without vets the world as we know it would be a very different place. Pet ownership for starters might be on very shaky ground because we wouldn’t be able to keep our cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs as healthy and happy.

We wouldn’t be able to produce safe meat and poultry products without vets either because vets help ensure farm animals stay well. Ultimately vets also help humans stay healthy, through food security.

When is World Vet Day?

Every year, World Vet Day takes place on the last Saturday in April. That means we’re celebrating on 27 April in 2024. Do you have your calendar out? Let’s save the date and plan something special to do with our pets. More on that a little further on.

What is the theme of the World Vet Day in 2024?

Each year World Vet Day celebrates a new theme. The theme often ties into big global events affecting the work vets do, such as COVID or antibiotic resistance.

Last year, this international celebration of animal doctors was about “Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in the veterinary profession”. This year the theme is “Veterinarians are essential health workers”.

pet says thank your for paying their vet bills

How to celebrate World Vet Day?

A great way to celebrate World Vet Day is celebrating your vet. You could do this in numerous ways, but here are a few ideas:

  • Send a thank you card. Why not send them a thank you card or email. You could tell them what an impact the advice and treatment for your pet has made on you. Perhaps you can even put a pic of your pet on the cover of the card or the body of the email. Consider letting them know they’re free to use your message as a customer testimonial on their website should they wish.
  • Write a thank you review. If you’re going digital, you could celebrate your vet by giving them a great review on Google reviews or their social media pages. It only takes a few moments but helps many other pet owners decide on which vet to choose for their cat or dog.
A woman holding a dog with a cone around its neck waits in a vet room for the next appointment

Five facts about vets in Australia

While on the face of it, becoming a vet may sound like a chance to spend time with lots of cute pets, vets carry some weighty pressures. As pet owners it’s essential that we understand these pressures because we rely on vets. Often, we do so without the knowledge of the high levels of burnout and low staff retention within the veterinary world.

Since we’re celebrating World Vet Day, let’s take a closer look at some key pressures vets in Australia face on a day to day basis.

#1. Vets are outnumbered

Vets are in big demand in Australia because, as one of the top pet owning nations, there are more pets than there are people, let alone vets! While this sounds positive for those wanting to enter the profession, it means there’s a heavy workload for those already in practice.

“We don’t have enough vets and nurses in the world at the moment for the number of pets that we have.”

– Royal Canin ANZ Chief Health Officer, Dr Bronwen MacRae

Interestingly, vets already work long hours even when the supply demand is met. The type of work where animal patients can come in injured or ill means no two days are the same. But it also means they might end up trying to save a patient while their family sits at home missing them at dinner.

A vet surgeon in Australia in an operating room performing a surgical procedure on a patient.

#2. Vet burnout is real

Vets are experiencing burnout at high rates due to long hours, immense work pressures and owner expectations. It’s important to realise that pet health affects vet mental health and so does the way pet owners treat vets.

When you’re treating wounded and sick patients there’s a certain level of shared trauma you experience. Added to that, one of the greatest reasons people become vets is out of a love for animals and a desire to care for them. But, as a vet, one often must perform euthanasia. (Read more on putting a pet to sleep).

Sometimes pet owners blame vets for pets being ill and injured – sometimes they blame them for treatment costs. Vets are often in the firing line from pet owner expectations. As pet owners, we need to take care of our vets and give them their due respect.

Watch the PD Pet Care Vlog for tips on communication between vets and clients:

#3. Vets are multi-species doctors

Unlike our GP, dentists treat multiple species, from dogs and cats to birds, mice, rabbits and more. That means vets have a scientific understanding of multiple biologies. This means, of course, different equipment too. A mouse isn’t the same size as a cat and a dog doesn’t have the same set of illnesses as a bird.

The human health world is dealing with one species. That’s us. Humans. In the veterinary health world we’re dealing with most commonly cats and dogs, but also rabbits, birds, mice, rats, guinea pigs and more.

– Healthy Pets New Zealand chair, Dr Cath Watson

Dr Cath adds, “these are all different sizes, they have different metabolisms, they have different physiology, so therefore they have different needs.

#4. Veterinary clinics are entire hospitals

When you step through the doors of a vet clinic you’re stepping into a mini hospital. Vet clinics are often equipped to cater not just to multiple species but also to multiple pathologies.

While you or I would head over to the dentist for teeth and the optometrist for eyes or our GP for colds and tummy upsets, our vet clinic is a one stop shop with all (or, at least, most of) the necessary machinery under one roof.

Your local veterinary clinic is set up to do what in the human health world would be the equivalent of being your GP, your dentist, your local imaging centre, your local laboratory, your E.R as well as any surgical suite that you might find in a hospital.

– Dr Cath Watson

As you can imagine, running and maintaining a vet clinic expensive. It’s worth keeping this in mind when budgeting for vet bills. Understanding the real price of new pets even before getting one can help you balance your books so you can spend more time focussing on building your bond with your pet.

A vet in Australia is seeing a dog patient for its routine check up on the Friday before World Vet Day.

#5. Vet bills aren’t subsidised like doctor’s bills

This one is a huge call to action for pet owners. We know that it takes the same level of knowledge and the same level of equipment to operate on a dog or cat as it does for a human. But we also know that often vet bills are expensive.

Many pet owners debate this with their vet, or get angry at them. Some even take to the media, saying their pet’s treatment is too costly. In reality, this isn’t the vet’s fault. They have enormous overheads and need to earn a wage and pay salaries. They must also undertake ongoing training as new technology – like AI in medicine – becomes available.

I think there’s significant misconceptions there about what vets and veterinary nurses are paid. It’s much lower than most people would expect.

– Dr Cath Watson

Dr Cath explains that only around 20 percent of the bill you are paying for your veterinary care is covering those staffing costs. Watch the PD Pet Care vlog with Dr Cath for a detailed look at what’s behind the pricing of bills handed out by vets in Australia.

As pet owners we need to be aware of the costs we may need to outlay when we get our pets, and plan ahead. While there isn’t Medicare for pets, we have another route to help pay for unexpected vet bills: pet insurance.

a vet in green checks a calico cat microchip on Word Vet Day

Award winning pet insurance for cats and dogs

Vets in Australia are far and few between compared to the 29 million pets. As a responsible pet parent, celebrate World Vet Day by buying a pet plan. Pet insurance helps pay your unexpected vet bills but it also means less admin for vets. Ultimately, it means worrying less about money and more about your pet.

Choose from our three award winning dog insurance and cat insurance plans and get one or more months FREE! Pet insurance helps cover the costs of diagnosis and treatment for accidents, illness and dental conditions – depending on which level you choose.

Click below to get a quote today.

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