Fact Checked

What Is an Animal Hospital?

K. K. Lowen
K. K. Lowen

An animal hospital is a medical facility that offers care to non-human patients. Some animal hospitals treat many different kinds of animals, while others specialize in one type of animal. Hospitals for animals typically feature the services of a trained veterinarian. The hospitals may offer a range of services, and although many offer only light care including immunizations and prescriptions, others offer a full range of services, such as surgery and physical therapy.

To let the public know that an animal hospital meets certain standards, accreditation is often available from veterinary organizations. Individual accreditation organizations may have different rules and regulations, and policies also may vary from country to country. Common standards may require that veterinary hospitals have proper medical equipment available to diagnose health problems and that staff members record and maintain certain types of documents. Another common accreditation criteria is employing at least one licensed veterinarian.

Some animal hospitals treat cats only.
Some animal hospitals treat cats only.

Some animal hospitals specialize in one or a small number of animals. Cat hospitals and dog hospitals are common because dogs and cats are two of the most popular types of pets. Horse hospitals are also common. There are hospitals for farm animals, but they are not as typical because many times it is inconvenient to move livestock to a hospital. Some animal hospitals may have a mobile unit that can function as an ambulance, transporting a veterinarian to a location in which urgent care is needed.

Rural animal hospitals may specialize in livestock care.
Rural animal hospitals may specialize in livestock care.

An animal hospital may provide emergency care, whereas others do not. Some facilities allow individuals to bring injured or sick animals for immediate medical care. Many animal hospitals operate strictly on an appointment basis, while others accept animals at any time of the night or day.

Payment methods also may vary from one hospital to another. Some animal hospitals are similar to community care clinics for humans, offering reduced prices, flexible payment schedules, and even free services. Other hospitals for animals may have strict payment policies with no sliding scale fees or free services.

Some animals offer elective surgery for pets.
Some animals offer elective surgery for pets.

An animal hospital may offer a variety of services. Beyond treating injuries and diseases, many hospitals also provide regular pet check-ups and pet prescription refills. Some animal hospitals offer elective surgery for pets, such as cosmetic procedures or laser eye surgery. Animal hospitals may participate in other types of non-medical activities as well, including pet placement, animal rescue, and educational services.

Some individuals who keep exotic pets must travel great distances to locate proper animal care. Animal hospitals that can offer full services for exotic pets can be difficult to find, but they do exist. For some health issues involving exotic pets, the veterinary medicine provided at an animal hospital could be insufficient. When an exotic pet has a severe health issue, its owner may need to seek an expert in zoologic medicine rather than trying to locate an animal hospital.

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Discussion Comments


@clintflint - I can't ever bring myself to watch shows like that. I think they do a great job in bringing attention to a lot of problems, but I have such sad memories of taking my pet to the hospital, I don't really want to be reminded of it.

It also makes me think of all those poor animals that won't be treated for illness or injury because their owner doesn't have the money to spend on that kind of thing.


One of the few kinds of reality TV that I actually enjoy watching are the ones based around animal hospitals, or zoos or animal control. Since they are based around a place rather than a particular person, you don't have to worry as much about producers making up stories in order to get higher ratings. There is plenty of drama in an animal hospital already, without needing to create more.

And the stories are often genuinely heart-warming or heart-breaking. I particularly like seeing examples of people going above and beyond in order to help an animal. Gives me a little more faith in the human race.

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    • Some animal hospitals treat cats only.
      By: fantom_rd
      Some animal hospitals treat cats only.
    • Rural animal hospitals may specialize in livestock care.
      By: AZP Worldwide
      Rural animal hospitals may specialize in livestock care.
    • Some animals offer elective surgery for pets.
      By: Scott Griessel
      Some animals offer elective surgery for pets.