One of the most discussed and hotly debated issues in the Veterinary profession is whether or not there is a shortage of veterinarians.

So, is there a shortage . . . or not?

There are multiple ways in which this question can be answered and this issue can be tackled. First, there’s the statistical way, through data.

For example, according to the job site Zippia, since 2013, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession has decreased from 1.0% to 0.2%.

In addition, our firm’s LinkedIn representative recently showed me that there were more than 10,000 open veterinarian positions on its social media platform.

Last but not least, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has been projecting continued veterinarian job growth for the past several years and is currently projecting growth through the year 2031.

Then there’s a more practical way to answer this question, mainly through researching the needs of veterinarian employers. According to, the 10 largest cities in the United States are as follows (rankings in descending order, with the most populous at the top of the list):

  • New York City, NY
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Chicago, IL
  • Houston, TX
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • San Antonio, TX
  • San Diego, CA
  • Dallas, TX
  • San Jose, CA

With these cities in mind, below is a corresponding list of news articles regarding a shortage of veterinarians centered in that city and/or in neighboring areas:

  • “Shortage of Veterinarians Grows Worse with Rising Caseloads, Bullying, and Burnout,” Newsday (Long Island); December 10, 2022
  • “There Aren’t Enough Veterinarians in Some California Communities. Can Student Debt Relief Help?” A. Times; February 19, 2023
  • “Chicago Animal Hospitals Seeing Shortage of Doctors,” Fox 32 Chicago; September 21, 2022
  • “A Longstanding Vet and Vet Tech Shortage Collides With Increased Pet Adoptions,” Houston Press; February 27, 2023
  • “Arizona Experiencing Veterinarian Shortage Crisis; Push Underway at State Capitol to Combat the Problem,” Fox 10 in Phoenix; April 14, 2022
  • “ACCT Philly Sees Spike in Surrendered Pets Due to Evictions, Vet Shortage,” WHYY PBS in Philadelphia; October 4, 2021
  • “Veterinarians Suffer Post-COVID Burnout as Demand Continues to Rise,” KSAT in San Antonio; June 20, 2023
  • “A New Push to Address California’s Crisis-Level Veterinary Shortage,” CBS Channel 8 in San Diego; February 17, 2023
  • “Rural Texas Needs More Veterinarians, and Texas Tech Has a Plan to Provide Them,” The Dallas Morning News; January 30, 2019
  • “San José Boosts Salary for Shelter Veterinarians, Amid Nationwide Shortage,” KQED in San Jose; August 31, 2022

It wasn’t difficult to find these articles, and with a quick Google search you can find at least one article from many states in the U.S. that discuss the veterinarian shortage in its state, overall, throughout the country, or both. After conducting some preliminary research, I found about 50 such articles.

All of this evidence points to one seemingly undeniable conclusion: there is indeed a shortage of veterinarians in this country right now. Not only that, but there has also been a shortage going back even before the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, I first noticed this shortage in 2008, and based upon my experience as an Animal Health executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter, the shortage has only grown since then. I’ll expound more on that in a moment.

Okay, so we’ve established that there is a shortage of veterinarians in the United States. But what about globally? Are other countries experiencing a shortage or is only the United States experiencing this predicament? Once again, only a cursory amount of research is necessary to formulate a rather definitive answer to this question. We can begin with Canada:

  • “National Shortage of Veterinarians Puts Pressure on Clinics, Pet Owners,” CTV News; February 7, 2023

From there, we can travel to the United Kingdom:

  • “UK is Struggling to Recruit Vets in Wake of Brexit,”; October 17, 2022

And we can even go to the “land down under,” Australia:

  • “Male Vets Are a Dying Breed, and It’s Not Helping a Critical Shortage,” The Sydney Morning Herald; November 26, 2022

According to multiple sources, not only is there a shortage of veterinarians in the profession, but that shortage has reached or will soon reach crisis levels. Not acknowledging the shortage will surely create obstacles in terms of dealing with the situation and devising solutions to the immense challenges that it presents. In short, you cannot solve a problem until you first fully acknowledge that the problem exists.

There is another factor involved with all of this, and that factor is the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic certainly had an effect on the job market overall, including within the Veterinary profession. However, the current shortage of veterinarians is NOT due to the pandemic. If the pandemic didn’t happen, there would still be a shortage. The pandemic did not cause the shortage.

Instead, all the pandemic did was serve to exacerbate and accelerate the shortage, which already existed before the first patient ever contracted the disease. As I mentioned above, I first noticed a shortage of veterinarians on my recruiting desk in 2008. I know that was also the time of the Great Recession, but there has been a shortage every year during the recovery from that historic event, and the pandemic only made it worse. I’ve been writing articles about the shortage for the better part of a decade and I have spoken about it at Veterinary conferences prior to 2020. Below are just some of the articles on The VET Recruiter website that were written before 2020:

  • Why the Demand for Veterinary Professionals is So Urgent
  • Just How Tight is the Marketplace for Talent Right Now?
  • Why Am I Not Getting Any Applicants for My Open Position?
  • Face It: Top Candidates Are in a Position of Power; Now What?

As a recruiter, I work “in the trenches” of the job market, and I have done so going back to 1997 in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. I talk with hiring managers and Veterinary practice owners on a daily basis. I know how difficult it is for Veterinary practices to find and hire veterinarians. I know because my phone rings all day long with them telling me they are having difficulty finding veterinarians. As a result, I know how detrimental it could be to ignore the current veterinarian shortage.

Speaking in more concrete terms, not acknowledging that there is a shortage can have severe consequences for the Veterinary profession. For example, below are three reasons why failing to address this issue could hurt the profession:

#1—Increased workload and burnout

With a shortage of veterinarians, those practicing in the profession may be forced to take on a heavier workload to meet the demands of pet owners and animal care. And as many of you know, this is already happening. This increased workload can lead to burnout among veterinarians, as they struggle to manage long working hours, deal with emotional stress, and maintain a high level of medical care. Burnout can lead to decreased job satisfaction, compromised patient care, and even cause some veterinarians to leave the profession altogether, making the shortage even worse.

#2—Diminished quality of care

A shortage of veterinarians can compromise the quality of care provided to animals. When Veterinary practices are understaffed, it becomes challenging to devote sufficient time and attention to each patient. This rushed approach can lead to misdiagnoses, delayed treatments, and an overall decline in the standard of Veterinary services. Animal health and welfare may suffer as a result, which could damage the profession’s reputation and trust among pet owners.

#3—Limited access to Veterinary services

In regions experiencing a veterinarian shortage, access to Veterinary services may become limited, especially in rural areas. Pet owners may need to travel long distances to find a veterinarian, making it difficult to seek regular check-ups, preventive care, or emergency treatments for their animals. According to a report released by Mars Veterinary Health, there will be a shortage of 15,000 veterinarians by the end of the decade, which will result in 75 million pets that can’t get the care they need.

In the final analysis, the question of whether there is a veterinarian shortage really isn’t a question. Based upon an avalanche of data from multiple and various sources, the answer has been obvious and continues to be so. There is no question that there is a serious shortage of veterinarians in the profession, which has already reached a crisis level or will do so in the near future.

So instead of asking ourselves if there’s a shortage, we should be asking this question instead: “What are we going to do about it?”