There are over 28 million pets in Canada that may require medical treatment at different stages of their lives. However, if you own a pet that needs to see the vet, you may have trouble getting an appointment because Canada is currently experiencing shortages of veterinarians, especially in rural areas.

In this article, we explore the statistics on the Canadian veterinary industry. You will find information on the number of vets in Canada and average wages among other key statistics. In addition, you will find information on how long it takes to train as a vet in Canada and the average cost of training.

Veterinary Industry Statistics for Canadians

  • There were over 15,000 practising vets in Canada in 2022.
  • Over 3,800 practices were offering veterinary services in 2022 in Canada.
  • At the end of 2022, there were over 1,200 vacancies for vets.
  • The market size of the animal healthcare industry in Canada is predicted to grow by over 7% between 2023 and 2028.
  • It takes at least six years to train as a vet in Canada.
  • University tuition fees cost between $12,500 and $20,000, and costs vary for domestic and international students.
  • The average veterinary medicine student graduates with $65,000 of student debt.
  • Only around 450 students graduate as vets each year in Canada.
  • Guelph University’s Veterinary College is ranked the fifth-best college in the world for veterinary sciences.
  • Vets in Canada earn over $110,000 per year on average.

Veterinarians in Canada

In 2022, there were 15,322 practising vets in Canada. Based on the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) memberships, 62% of the practitioners were female, 37% were male and 1% had an unknown or not disclosed identity. The median age of Canadian vets was 44 in 2021 and the median retirement age was 64.

Ontario, with 5,383, had the most practising vets followed by Quebec with 2,851 vets. Alberta and British Columbia came next with 2,376 and 1,976 vets, respectively. The rest of the provinces and territories are below. There were no practising vets listed for Nunavut.

  • Saskatchewan: 893
  • Manitoba: 548
  • Nova Scotia: 449
  • Prince Edward Island: 386
  • New Brunswick: 320
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 117
  • Yukon: 16
  • Territories: 7

Canada Has Over 6,000 Veterinary-Related Business

There are approximately 6,080 businesses in Canada that work in the veterinary field, including veterinary practices, animal hospitals, test labs, and services related to livestock. 3,825 of all businesses in the veterinary industry are veterinary practices.

Canada Has a Shortage of Vets

There are more vacancies than there are vets in Canada and currently, the job prospects for newly-qualified vets are very good across most parts of the country. According to Statistics Canada, there were 1,265 vacancies for vets in the final quarter of 2022. The number of vacancies was up 18.8% compared to the same quarter of 2021. The vet shortages are worse in rural areas and small towns but affect cities, too.

Between 2022 and 2031, the number of new job openings for vets is predicted to total 5,000. During the same period, there will be around 4,300 job seekers arising from graduates, immigrants, and people relocating. Based on these predictions, the shortage of vets will continue. However, it will ease somewhat in the next ten years.

There is also a shortage of animal health technologists and veterinary technicians in Canada. At the end of 2022, there were 1,325 vacancies open, which was a 13.7% increase compared to the previous year. In contrast, the number of vacancies for animal care workers and pet groomers decreased by 26.5% to 1,345 vacancies.

Market Size of Veterinary Industry in Canada

According to Mordor Intelligence, the market size of the veterinary healthcare market in Canada in 2023 is $3.588 billion. It is predicted that the market size will grow to over $5 billion by 2028. The CAGR will be 7.26%.

This will be a faster growth rate than the industry saw between 2018 and 2023 when the growth rate was 3.6% according to IBIS World. The industry grew over the five years despite a 5.1% decline in 2022. The IBIS World market report estimates that in total, the veterinary service industry in Canada had a market size of $6.1 billion in 2022.

More Canadians Are Insuring Their Pets

More Canadian pet owners are considering the cost of unexpected vet bills when they are getting a pet and taking out insurance. At the end of 2021, there were 432,533 pets insured in Canada. This was a 22.7% increase compared to the year before.

Despite the increase in pet insurance, the majority of pets in Canada are still uninsured. On average, only 2% of cats and 4% of dogs are insured. The main reason for not having a reason is that the majority of pet owners say that they can cover vet bills without the help of insurance. However, over half of those who have insured their pet said the insurance gave them security as they had protection against expensive, unexpected vet bills.

How Much Does it Cost to See a Vet in Canada?

Prices for veterinary exams for your pet vary depending on the type of practice and where you are in Canada. However, on average an exam by a general vet will cost between $45 and $65. If you need a veterinary specialist to examine your pet, the price is likely to be between $100 and $250 on average. It is difficult to give an approximate price for treatments your pet may require as this will depend on various factors such as the size and type of your pet.

How to Become a Vet in Canada

To become a vet in Canada, you need to train as a qualified Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). The minimum duration of the training is six years. However, if you wish to specialise in, for example, animal surgery, nutrition, or dentistry, you will need to study longer. The initial six years before specialisation is split into two initial years of pre-veterinary courses at a regular university and four years in a veterinary college.

However, working as a vet is one of many options if you wish to work in animal medicine. You can study to become a veterinary assistant or a technician instead. These qualifications are faster to obtain. Some courses to become a veterinary assistant only take a year, while veterinary technician courses generally last two to three years.

The role of a veterinary assistant is to support the vet and ensure the clinic is running smoothly. They may, for example, assist in surgery and communicate with owners. Veterinary technicians may perform duties such as administering medication, taking blood samples, and carrying out lab tests.

Canada Has Five Veterinary Colleges

Anyone who wishes to study veterinary medicine in Canada can choose between five veterinary colleges:

  • The Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) University of Prince Edward Island
  • Faculté De Médecine Vétérinaire (FMV) Université de Montréal
  • The Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) University of Guelph
  • The Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) University of Saskatchewan
  • Faculty of Veterinary Medicine (UCVM) University of Calgary

The cost of tuition varies from one veterinary college to another and there are different prices for students from Canada and international students. For domestic students, the yearly tuition fees start from around 12,500 (University of Calgary) up to almost 20,000 (Université de Montréal). According to the University of Guelph website, a year’s tuition at the Ontario Veterinary College costs $25,616.88. This amount combines tuition, student fees, and the UHIP fee.

The Average Veterinary Student Has Large Student Debts

Studying to become a vet takes several years and with tuition costing upwards of $12,500, it is not surprising many students leave veterinary college with sizable debts. According to the National Library of Medicine, the average student debt after graduating from a veterinary college in Canada is $65,000.

Only 450 Students Graduate Each Year from Veterinary Colleges in Canada

Since there are only five veterinary colleges in Canada, the number of people who graduate as vets each year is low. On average, 450 students graduate from Canada’s veterinary colleges each year. Around 350 of the graduates are Canadian and the rest are international students.

The University of Guelph Has One of the Top Ranked Veterinary Science Courses in the World

Canada is known for its high-quality education system and one of its veterinary colleges is ranked among the top schools for veterinary science in the world. The Ontario Veterinary College which is part of the University of Guelph is number one in Canada and number five globally for veterinary science. Currently, the top-ranked veterinary college is the Royal Veterinary College, part of the University of London, England.

A Vet Can Earn Over $110,000 Per Year on Average

While it may take several years to become a vet and the tuition is costly, vets in Canada have good earning potential. According to Statistics Canada, the average hourly wages offered for vets were 53.30 at the end of 2022. The current hourly average wage according to the job website Indeed is slightly more modest at 42.83 per hour. The average yearly salary according to Indeed is $110,784.

In other areas working with animals, the salaries are more modest. In the final quarter of 2022, the average hourly wage offered to animal health technologists and veterinary technicians was $20.90. For animal care workers and pet groomers, the average hourly wage offered was $16.80.

Conclusion

Canada has 15,322 practising vets, which is a very small number of vets considering that there are over 28 million pets in the country and the number keeps growing year by year. The country is facing a shortage of vets, which can be felt in all regions but especially in rural areas and small towns.

Studying to become a vet in Canada is a long process, taking at least two years of regular university and four years of veterinary medicine studies at a veterinary college. Specialising in, for example, animal surgery, will add more years to the studies.

It is also expensive to study to become a vet, with the average student finishing their studies around $65,000 in debt. However, the job prospects are good for anyone studying to become a vet in Canada and the average wage is over $110,000 per year.

Frequently Asked Questions

The main reason for the shortage of vets in Canada is that there are not enough people entering the job market. Currently, the rate of vets retiring is about the same as new vets entering the job market. This, in theory, should mean that there is a new person to fill in the vacancy as someone retires. However, the number of pets is growing in Canada each year, creating more demand for vets.

Vet bills can get very expensive. While a routine exam by a general vet will cost, on average, between $45 and $65 and an exam by a specialist between $100 and $250, some treatments can cost hundreds of dollars. Prices vary depending on location and the size and type of the pet. Any pet owner should consider pet insurance to protect them against unexpected costs such as vet bills.

The cost of veterinary training varies depending on which university you choose to study. However, the tuition fees start from $12,500. The fees will vary each year so always check the latest information on the university’s website before applying. You also need to consider other costs involved with studying such as the cost of books when working out how much it will cost in total to become a vet.

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