Veterinary Nurse


Requirements for registration to practise a para-veterinary profession: Veterinary Nursing Diploma
21A. Requirements for registration

  1. Any applicant that applies for registration as a veterinary nurse shall submit a certificate of competence in mathematics and physical science or biology issued for school leaving purposes by a competent secondary level schooling authority of South Africa.
  2. The veterinary diploma referred to in regulation 21 which entitles a candidate to register as a veterinary nurse shall -
  3. comprise of the completion of at least two academic years of study as a registered veterinary nursing student; and
  4. be constituted of the subject courses specified in Table 7.
  5. A student shall work a minimum period of 14 days in a private veterinary hospital or a veterinary clinic under supervision of a registered veterinarian.
  6. Upon completion of a veterinary nursing diploma a registered veterinary nursing student may, if the examining authority is satisfied that the provisions of the Act and these regulations have been successfully complied with, be registered as a veterinary nurse in terms of the Act.

21B. Curriculum requirements
The curriculum of any university that offers a course for study for qualification as a veterinary nurse in terms of regulation 21 shall comprise of the subject courses specified in Table 7.

21C. Examination

  1. The examination for the diploma shall include examination in the subject courses specified in Table 7.
  2. If the examination consists of a practical and a theoretical part, a minimum mark of 40 percent shall be obtained in each part.
  3. At least two examiners, one of whom was not involved in the teaching of the subject to the candidate, shall participate in the evaluation of each subject.
  4. A candidate shall pass an examination in a subject if at least 50 percent of the maximum marks obtainable in the examination for that subject, is obtained.


Subject course

Minimum equivalent *semesters

Contents and instructions


1. Anatomy



Theoretical instruction shall extend over a minimum period of the equivalent of 3 semesters.
Basic anatomy, histology and embryology of the dog and relevant aspects of large animals and horses.

2. Pharmacology


(a) The principles of pharmacology.
(b) The use and control of drugs and medicines.

3. Physiology


An elementary course in the physiology and physiological chemistry of the most important body systems of domestic animals.

4. Veterinary ethology


(a) Introduction to veterinary ethology.
(b) Applied companion animal ethology (dogs, cats, horses), which includes breed, characteristics, behaviour, breeding, nutrition and care of each species.
(c) Applied production animal ethology (cattle, sheep, pigs), which includes breed, characteristics, behaviour, breeding, nutrition and care of each species.

5. Laboratory technique


(a) Care and handling of laboratory apparatus.
(b) Collecting and dispatching of specimens.
(c) Elementary haematology.
(d) Preparation and examination of skin scrapings, faeces samples, bacteriological and urine specimens and elementary clinical chemistry.

6. Microbiology


(a) Elementary bacteriology, virology, immunology and epidemiology.
(b) Theory of the effects of antiseptics.
(c) Introduction to the recognition of the most important infectious diseases of domestic animals.

7. Parasitology


Elementary parasitology.

8. General nursing


(a) Ethical aspects, client relations, responsibilities towards the employer, patient and client.
(b) General precaution and safety aspects during hospitalisation, nursing and treatment of patients.
(c) Safe storage of medicines, safe medication and the recording thereof.
(d) Observation of the patient and reporting to the veterinarian with the use of correct veterinary terminology.
(e) Rules pertaining to the transport of animals.
(f) Basic bandaging of animals.
(g) Hygiene of the hospital, apparatus and patient.

9. Medical nursing


(a) Theoretical aspects of intensive care nursing, fluid therapy, blood transfusion, blood-bank, cardiovascular and pulmonary resuscitation, diet therapy, recognition and treatment of shock.
(b) Practical monitoring of patient.
(c) General nursing aspects of all body systems.
(d) Nursing of patients with contagious and infectious diseases.
(e) Geriatric nursing.
(f) Medical nursing of the horse and ruminant.

10. Surgical nursing


(a) The classification and treatment of inflammation, wounds, haemorrhage, fractures and dislocations.
(b) Wound healing and healing of different types of tissue.
(c) Examination of traumatised patients.
(d) Ocular emergencies.
(e) General surgical conditions and procedures of the thorax, abdomen, head, neck, skin, spinal column and locomotory system.
(f) Nutrition of surgical patients.
(g) Surgical nursing of the horse and ruminant.
(h) Bandaging of large and small animals.
(i) Dental hygiene.
(j) Physiotherapy.
(k) Pre-operative and postoperative nursing.
(l) Surgical terminology.

11. Theatre practice


(a) Operating theatre management.
(b) Basic principles of aseptic and atraumatic surgery.
(c) Pre-operative preparation of the surgical patient.
(d) Assisting the surgeon.
(e) Knowledge and care of surgical instruments, equipment and apparatus.
(f) Suture material, needles, placement and removal of skin sutures.
(g) Disinfection and sterilisation.
(h) Medico legal risks and theatre ethics.

12. Anaesthesia


(a) The physiology and signs of anaesthesia.
(b) Anaesthetic drugs, methods and apparatus.
(c) Administration and monitoring of anaesthesia.
(d) Preparation and post-operative anaesthetic care.
(e) Anaesthetic emergencies.

13. Radiography


(a) The generation and properties of X-rays.
(b) Precautionary measures.
(c) Manipulation of exposure factors.
(d) Positioning of the animal.
(e) Indications for additional apparatus and management thereof.
(f) Films, contrast media, processing and evaluation of the quality of radiographs.
(g) Basic principles of diagnostic ultrasonography.

14. Theriogenological nursing


(a) Elementary reproductive physiology and endocrinology of male and female domestic animals.
(b) The oestrus cycle.
(c) The principles of oestrus control.
(d) Fertilisation.
(e) Artificial insemination of the cow and bitch.
(f) Physiology of pregnancy and care of the pregnant animal.
(g) Methods of pregnancy diagnosis.
(h) Normal parturition and care of the animal during parturition.
(i) Elementary gynaecology.
(j) The puerperium.
(k) Elementary principles of semen collection, examination and storage.
(l) Infertility in male and female animals.
(m) Theriogenology emergencies including the administration of epidural anaesthesia and correction of a simple abnormal presentation of the foetus.
(n) Principles of herd health programmes.
(o) Laboratory technique in relation to the diagnosis of re-productive abnormalities.



(a) Experimental study of inpatients and outpatients.
(b) Clinical instruction shall take place in an animal hospital attached to the university for this purpose.
(c) Students shall be given the opportunity to gain experience in the following clinical departments:
(i) Small animal surgery
(ii) Equine medicine and surgery
(iii) Operating theatres
(iv) Sterilising department
(v) Anaesthesia clinic
(vi) Postoperative nursing
(vii) Radiography
(viii) Dental clinic
(ix) Pharmacy
(x) Small animal medicine
(xi) Production animal medicine and surgery
(xii) Intensive care unit
(xiii) Outpatients clinics
(xiv) Isolation unit
(xv) Bird clinic
(xvi) Theriogenological nursing

* One semester is equivalent to 6 calendar months.
[REG.21 AND 27]

Degree, Diploma or certificate

University or other educational institution

Para-veterinary profession

Designations reserved






Univ. of Pretoria, South Africa
Univ.of Pretoria, South Africa

Veterinary Nurse
Veterinary Nurse

Veterinary nurse, animal nurse
Veterinary nurse, animal nurse

National Diploma in Veterinary Technology

Department of National Education, after examination based on education received at a Technikon in the Republic

Veterinary Technologist

Veterinary Technologist

National Diploma in Laboratory Animal Technology

Technikon South Africa

Laboratory Animal Technologist

Laboratory Animal Technologist

B.Sc. Agric (Animal Health)
Diploma Animal Health
National Diploma Animal Health

University of the North West
University of the North West
Technikon South Africa

Animal Health Technician
Animal Health Technician
Animal Health Technician

Animal Health Technician
Animal Health Technician
Animal Health Technician

Links to African Council websites

Veterinary Statutory Bodies in Africa

Veterinary Council of Namibia

Veterinary Council of Zimbabwe (department of livestock and veterinary services)

Kenya Veterinary Board

Veterinary Council of Tanzania

Botswana Veterinary Association

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