Veterinary and Animal Care Courses

By Aoife Read - Last update

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Veterinary and Animal Care courses are ideal for anyone who has a deep love and devotion to animals. Veterinary and animal care courses vary in skill level and qualification requirement. They can be anything from becoming a vet or vets assistant to becoming a dog groomer or walker.


A Certificate in Animal Care or Veterinary Assistant is a good starting point for careers in things like; veterinary nursing, animal grooming, and animal care. You will learn about animal anatomy, physiology, welfare, and behaviour.

Students can study Animal Science in UCD as a specialist degree, or as part of their Agricultural Science degree. This degree is for those who want to work in agribusiness or research.

Veterinary Nursing is also a popular option at a higher level. Dundalk, Athlone, and Letterkenny Institutes of Technology have Level 7 courses, and UCD has a Level 8 degree. You learn subjects such as:

  • Animal anatomy and physiology
  • Surgical nursing
  • Veterinary practice management
  • Animal husbandry

Students will also spend time training in a veterinary practice or hospital.

UCD’s Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine is the only course in Ireland that enables graduates to register with the Veterinary Council of Ireland –  a prerequisite to becoming a vet. This five-year programme includes placements in Belfield’s Veterinary Hospital and on a research farm. It also includes a period of study abroad.

One-year courses in Equestrian Studies are also available at Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa (Cork), Muinebheag Vocational School (Carlow), and Grennan College (Thomastown, Kilkenny). These courses prepare students to work in horse care.

Kildalton Agricultural College’s one-year Horse Breeding & Training (Level 5) is centred on the racing horse industry. You’ll learn to work in training yards and stud farms.

If you’d prefer a more managerial role, Athlone IT and NUI Maynooth both have Equine Business programmes.

UCD and University of Limerick offer Equine Science. You’ll learn about horse health and welfare, genetics, nutrition and breeding as well as business management. Both courses will prepare graduates for careers in academia,  research and development, and management roles in the equine industry.

The Work

Most vets work with family pets, but others may work either exclusively with farm animals or with a mixture of both. Besides empathy for animals, it is important for vets, veterinary nurses, and all animal-care professionals to have effective communication skills for dealing with pet owners. Good business management is needed in private businesses such as veterinary practices, stables, and dog kennels.

Scientific knowledge plays a huge part in careers such as veterinary medicine, animal science research, and wildlife conservation, so a keen interest in subjects such as biology and chemistry would be very helpful.

Aoife Read

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