Veterinary pathologists study diseases in animals. They look at livestock,
zoo animals, companion animals and wildlife.
According to the website of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists
(ACVP), veterinary pathologists study animal tissue and body fluids to diagnose
disease. They might look for ways to protect animal health, or they might
look for ways in which diseases spread from animals to humans.
"Some veterinary pathologists are studying the link between SARS and the
civet cat in China," says Dr. Kevin Keel. He is a veterinary pathologist at
the University of Arizona.
Veterinary pathologists analyze cells, tissue and body fluids from both
living and dead animals.
Forensic pathology involves studying animal tissue to help solve crimes.
Analyzing tissue from an animal that died in a fire might indicate if the
fire was accidental or arson, explains Dr. K. Paige Carmichael. She is a
veterinary pathologist at the University of Georgia.
"I spend a lot of time testifying in court," says Carmichael.
Research pathologists design and conduct experiments. Later, they analyze
the data and develop statistics.
The ACVP website says that veterinary pathologists have many work options.
They might teach and conduct research in universities. Some work in private
or government research labs, where they ensure safety in food, drugs and biological
Others work in wildlife conservation. Still others work in a field where
they watch for outbreaks of new diseases. Others conduct pharmaceutical research
looking for new drugs to prevent or combat disease.
Pathologists must know a lot about all species. However, some veterinary
pathologists might choose to specialize in a certain species, says Dr. Grant
Spearman. He is president of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Pathologists.
Some might work solely with frogs or birds or fish, for instance.
Those working as university professors must publish research findings and
Most veterinary pathologists are required to write reports. They must also
communicate good and bad news to concerned veterinarians or animal owners.
Veterinary pathologists work in many capacities. Some are professors, teaching
and researching in veterinary schools. Some conduct research with biotechnology
and pharmaceutical companies. Others are diagnostic pathologists in government
Also, there are animal, bird, fish, companion animal specialties and toxicological
pathologists who work either with an institution or in private business.
People with a mobility disability might be able to work as pathologists
in some positions. It depends on the nature of the job. According to Spearman,
the real difficulty might lie in getting through veterinary college first.
Veterinary students are required to handle large animals like horses and cattle.
It is unlikely that someone with a severe visual disability could work
in this field, since so much time is spent analyzing specimens.
Study disease in animals