Veterinary Nurses are members of a learned and honourable profession and are required to at all time act in such a manner as to maintain and promote the prestige, honour and interests of the profession. Veterinary nurses are responsible for the promotion of animal health, relief of suffering by animals and the saving of animal lives. Veterinary nurses work as caring professionals who make important contributions to the physical and emotional well being of animals and people.

No person may practise the profession of a veterinary nurse unless the person is registered with the SAVC.
Veterinary Nurses are not just extra staff– they are trained to do everything except clinical consultations and surgery, saving the Veterinarian’s time. Veterinary nurses provide support to veterinarians in the management and care of animals receiving medical and/or surgical treatment. They may also be involved in the management of the staff, and the financial and technical resources of a veterinary practice, animal hospital or similar treatment facility.

No matter how good veterinary lay staff, they cannot compare to the professionalism and training of veterinary nursing.

Veterinary nurses are currently utilized in many fields, with outstanding results, due to the standard and depth of training received.

The “Course of conduct for veterinary nurses” is part of the rules for veterinary nurses and has been included under “Rules”.

The employment of a Veterinary Nursing sister in any veterinary sector ensures that patients receive care that could only be equalled by a Veterinarian.

All the duties of a veterinary nurse are carried out under the supervision and instruction of a veterinary surgeon, in accordance with our Para-Veterinary Profession’s Act and our Ethical Code.

Private Practice – patient care is the most important duty for a veterinary nurse in private practice. Other duties include client liaison and advice at reception or telephonically, medicine and fluid administration, monitoring and care of hospitalized patients, stock control and merchandising, basic laboratory procedures, anaesthesia, radiographs, dentals and ear cleaning, physiotherapy and assisting with surgical procedures, assisting with dental, weight loss and senior clinics, as well as puppy socialisation classes.

Welfare Organisations – duties are as for the veterinary nurse in private practice but the emphasis is on primary health care and education. Additional duties include the supervision of all aspects of care provided in a welfare kennel and cattery situation. Training and monitoring of Animal Welfare Assistants may also form part of the responsibilities.

Community Veterinary Clinics – this concept was started by the South African Veterinary Association whereby veterinarians in private practice render services in previously disadvantaged areas, with the assistance of veterinary nurses, or where veterinary nurses (alone) manage these clinics with some help from private veterinarians.

Industry – the sale and product management of veterinary pharmaceuticals, specialized nutritional products and equipment offers new challenges to the veterinary nurse. Responsibilities include training and offering technical support to veterinary practice staff on new products available to them. They also represent the profession and the company at product launches, conferences and trade/public exhibitions.

Wildlife – patient care remains of the utmost importance but duties are adapted to suit wildlife. These include the treatment of injured / sick birds and animals, administration and monitoring of specialized feeding, involvement with the rehabilitation of wildlife’ assisting with game capture especially anaesthetic monitoring and sample collection’ and public education.

Zoos – as for wildlife but also includes the supervision of specialised husbandry and quarantine procedures.

Academia – duties in an academic hospital are similar to those duties of a veterinary nurse in private practice. There is however, an emphasis on the practical and theoretical training of veterinary and veterinary nursing students and the monitoring of the veterinary nursing curriculum.

Research Institutions – duties involving research animals are adapted in certain areas such as specialized husbandry, anaesthetics and assisting with surgical procedures. Important aspects of this work are administration and offering technical advice, the monitoring of ethical principles as well as the practical handling of animals used in research projects.

Education – veterinary nurses working in these areas, though not strictly practicing as veterinary nurses, are able to adapt their knowledge to not only benefit the animals in their place of work, but also the students. Similarly, veterinary nurses have diversified into fields such as pet grooming, animal behaviour, boarding and breeding establishments, and animal rehabilitation where they have adapted their knowledge to suit their working environment.



  • Enjoy working with animals
  • Able to handle animals with confidence and patience
  • Able to make accurate observations
  • Good communication skills
  • Good organisation skills
  • Able to work as part of a team


Cura Patiens Sanat – love and patience heals. Two of the most important qualities that a veterinary nurse can have and two that form part of her/his integral duty of patient care.

Veterinary nurses work in many diverse fields but remain a quintessential member of any veterinary healthcare team that they work in.