Not Enough Vets

The shortage of veterinarians and veterinary technicians is scary.


Every pet owner I know is talking about it: the difficulty we are all experiencing in getting veterinary care – especially emergency care – for our dogs. Friends have driven hours to find an emergency clinic that is still operating at night or on weekends – and in some cases have spent six, eight, or even more than 10 hours waiting for their dogs to be seen in an emergency. Call to make a routine appointment and the first opening they have may be more than a month in the future.

This sobering reality has definitely made me more careful with my dogs than ever before. I don’t throw the ball as much for Woody, who puts all of his heart and soul into catching every ball, without particular regard for collision hazards or graceful landings. Knowing that I might not be able to find a vet to take him to if he sliced himself open running into something, or being unable to schedule a timely ACL repair if he were to blow a tendon, has definitely made me less inclined to encourage him to engage in the potentially injurious activity. I even stop him and my year-old dog, Boone, from chasing each other at high speeds around my property! It used to be fun to watch; now I just flinch every time they almost run into a tree or take a bad step as they leap over the little stream in our pasture.

I strongly suspect the difficulty and delay in obtaining prompt veterinary care is also partly to blame for what seems like record numbers of unwanted puppies and kittens flowing into animal shelters.

About a year ago, Mars Veterinary Health published some statistics that put some hard numbers to the experience many of us are having:

  • Nearly 41,000 additional veterinarians will be needed to meet the needs of companion animal healthcare by 2030.
  • Even with the new veterinary graduates expected over the next 10 years, a shortage of nearly 15,000 veterinarians will likely still exist by 2030.
  • It would take more than 30 years of graduates to meet the 10-year industry need for credentialed veterinary technicians.

If you haven’t seen your veterinarian for a while, be advised that it might take longer than usual. And when you do take your dog in for an appointment, be extra considerate of the veterinarian and staff time and expertise! They’re under extraordinary pressure these days.