Veterinary hospitals operate in large and small cities throughout the country. The majority — especially the larger hospitals — are based in big cities. Many have 24-hour pet care services. It is estimated that there are between 20,000 and 24,000 veterinary hospitals in the United States; that figure also includes small private practices. Most veterinary hospitals care for dogs, cats, birds, reptiles, and rodents.
The majority of the patients at veterinary hospitals are dogs and cats. However, those that treat the more unusual pets, such as boa constrictors, ferrets, gerbils, and cockatoos, are constantly on the lookout for veterinarians, vet techs, and vet assistants with experience caring for these less traditional pets. Opportunities and salaries are often fair to high at most veterinary hospitals.
Veterinary hospitals are great places to work if you enjoy being around a large staff and working with an assortment of animals. Hours can be long, but flexible. Some professionals choose to work night shifts. Others prefer daytime hours. If you are interested in getting your foot in the door, you should be open to working evening or nighttime hours.
While all animal hospitals treat dogs and cats, almost all of the larger animal hospitals treat the nontraditional pet. Many veterinary hospitals have special services that include anesthesiology, behavioral medicine, cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, emergency medicine and critical care, intensive care, internal medicine, medical imaging, oncology, ophthalmology, soft-tissue surgery, orthopedic surgery, and wildlife and exotic animal medicine.