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1-855-622-7722

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​What is shelter medicine?

Shelter medicine is a field of veterinary medicine that combines individual animal health care with the needs of the population. Shelter medicine is an exciting, growing field that is now being taught in many veterinary schools.

grey kitten being held

The main goal of shelter medicine is to improve the health and well-being of animals in shelters. Key aspects of shelter medicine include:

  • Infectious disease management and prevention
  • Population management and animal welfare
  • Medical, surgical and emergency care
  • Caring for and providing documentation for animals who are part of cruelty cases
  • Shelter facility design
  • Clinical behaviour
  • Community programs and working with community veterinarians to share information

Shelter medicine recommendations may differ from private practice recommendations, because of consideration for the entire population and not just individual animals.

The BC SPCA has a shelter medicine program that provides provincial support to all sheltering branches using an evidence-based approach. Our program also hosts 4th year veterinary students from across the world who are interested in learning more about animal welfare and shelter medicine.

Visit our Professional Resources page for more shelter medicine information.