Medicine improvement in the veterinary field in France

When somebody refers to veterinary schools in France or the veterinary system in general within the country, they are actually talking about a foundation. Not many people know that France was home to the first veterinary school in the world (which is quite an achievement for the French). We owe France many thanks in regards to the care of our furry friends, and so it comes as no surprise to hear that French medicine in the veterinary field is quite extraordinary. After all, they are its founders.

Like you could expect to find in any country, there are some exceptions to the rule of “great medical care for animals” in France, but the standard of veterinary medicine is quite good, and generally, you should have no issue whatsoever in this department.

Graduated veterinarians in France have to undergo many tough years of studies and some even choose to continue on their education. Some of the universities that future vets attend even have their own dedicated department. So there is no need to worry about unprofessionalism in general. Your pet will be looked after.

No matter where you find yourself in France, you can expect to find vets in all of the major towns, as well as cities. Some of the smaller towns may not have their own vets, but they are amongst the exceptions.

If you have your pet treated at a vet’s in France, you can expect to receive the famous “carnet de santé et de vaccination”, if you did not have it already. This special document showcases all the vaccines that your pet received in its lifetime. All pet owners carry one in their wallets. It’s basically like an ID or passport for pets, and it comes quite in handy if you want to take your furry friend out of the country or if you want to have it examined by some other veterinarian than the one you usually go to.

Veterinary surgeries in France are very easy to find, you will see them marked with a blue cross sign. You will also find them listed in the local yellow pages under “vétérinaires practiciens”.

Veterinary medicine is so advanced in France that you can even get insurance for your pet, although it is not the most common practice amongst the French. Costs for such insurance are not that excessive and there are even discounts if you have more than one pet.

Something to highlight about French vets is that, aside from providing medical care for animals in general, they also act as a point of contact for re-homing animals. So, if you are looking to adopt a new furry creature, you will surely find your new companion through your local veterinarian, just as you would through a normal animal shelter.

France’s veterinary schools and educational system

France’s first and revolutionary vet school was created by Claude Bourgelat in 1766, in the town of Alfort, which is two leagues away from Paris. The Alfort Veterinary School was a revolution in itself, creating a whole new field in the medical area. Nowadays, the Alfort Veterinary School is considered a relevant institution and it is on the list of “European Association of Establishments for Veterinary Education (EAEVE)” that is highly recognized by European institutions.

In the present time, French veterinary medicine has evolved and improved tremendously, and to become a veterinarian in modern times you need to undertake a very strict and long educational path. The degree with which you will graduate allows you to practice veterinary medicine in France, as well as throughout the European Union.

Basically, if you want to study to become a veterinarian in France you are looking at a seven-year-long course, and that is after the baccalaureate. Veterinary education in France is regulated by four specialized institutions called “grandes écoles”, which are found in Lyon (VetAgro Sup Lyon), Nantes (Oniris Nantes), Toulouse (The National Veterinary School of Toulouse) and Alfort (The National Veterinary School of Alfort).

The process to become a veterinarian in France consists of:

  • Two years before the entrance examination, in which students have to enter a national contest in order to be accepted into a veterinary school.
  • Four years of basic training (3 years of lectures and 1 year of clinical rotations)
  • One year of pre-specialization.

In the fifth year of veterinary school, the student is required to submit a thesis of veterinary practice and, should he pass the dissertation successfully, it will give him the title of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine.

All about the Pet Passport in France

As we mentioned before in the article, France establishes some norms and regulations for pet owners that have to be respected both by locals and expats alike.

The pet passport is basically the same as a human passport. It is a little booklet that serves as personal identification for pets and records all of their medical details as well as their given vaccines. It is separated into sections. The first seven sections are the most important ones.

  • Sections 1 & 2 include all the relevant details about pet and owner, including the owner’s name, as well as personal his address. It also lists the pet’s name, breed, date of birth, sex and coloring. You can include a picture of your pet if you want here as well. In France, the passport only allows for two owners, but in other countries, you can include more.
  • Section 3 has all the ISO microchip data, which includes the number and implantation date, or in some instances, the pet’s identifying tattoos. This section is protected with a permanent plastic film so that it is impossible to be altered or tampered with.
  • Section 4 includes the personal details of the EU vet who issued the pet’s passport.
  • Section 5 has all the vaccination history of the pet, which is an absolute requirement no matter where you take your pet to while in Europe.
  • Section 6 has the rabies titres, which are only required in certain EU countries.
  • Section 7 stands for echinococcus treatment.

Getting your pet his own pet passport enables you to take him along in your family travels freely between member countries of the “PETS” scheme (All European countries accept Pet Passports including Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and even the Vatican!. Some non-EU countries accept it too, such is the case for US and Australia), without having to worry about those dreaded quarantines. This is only valid so long as your furry family members have their rabies vaccinations and any other medical or dental ( http://www.allo-dentiste-garde.fr ) treatments (such as rabies titres, or tapeworm) up-to-date. 

Beware, however, that only some pets can get a Pet Passport. Currently the allowed pets are dogs, cats, and ferrets. So, if you are traveling with your pet snake, you will have to do some researching about the required travel documentation for your final destination country.

If you have decided to get your beloved furry animal a Pet Passport you will only need the assistance of an authorized veterinarian in Europe. Anyone that is authorized can deliver one for you. Costs for the issuing of a Pet Passport vary depending on where you get it done. Most likely, you will need to pay the vet a small fee for the consultation, and then some more for the issuing of the passport itself. Typical costs can range from 20 EUR to 60 EUR, depending on the country and on the vet as well.

If you are planning on staying longer than three months in France or settle permanently in the country, then there is another step that you have to take which is obligatory and very important, and that is to get your pets officially registered with I-CAD (which stands for Identification Des Carnivores Domestiques). This is actually a legal requirement regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture, and it is mandatory for all pet owners in France. This additional step is done to form a centralized database for all domestic animals residing in France. You have a period of three months and seven days, to be precise, in order to complete the registration since your date of arrival.

Similarly to the Pet Passport, only dogs, cats and ferrets can be registered with I-CAD. So, if you are the proud owner of a pet monkey, you are out of luck.

In order to register your pets with I-CAD you will need to go to your local veterinary in France and ask for the necessary paperwork. Once you have the paperwork, you will need to ask your vet to fill them out, sign and stamp them. After that, you have one month to mail the paperwork to I-CAD with a copy of your pets’ Health Certificate, a written proof that your pets have all the required rabies vaccines and a small payment fee.

After three weeks or so, you should receive a formal letter back from I-CAD, with the confirmation that your pet has been successfully registered into the system. Check the letter for the pets’ ID details and for the online password that is included and that will give you access to your pets’ ID account on I-CAD’s French website. The response letter should also include a detachable ID card that you can carry around in your wallet.

Why is French Veterinary Medicine Considered So Good?

After submitting themselves to the seven-year-long career to become a veterinarian, the now professional vets can register at the Ordre des Vétérinaires (also known as College of Veterinarians). Once successfully registered, they will be granted a license to practice as a veterinarian in France.

Veterinary medicine is carefully regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture based in Paris. Regulation for veterinarian practices began in 1881 in France, with the recognition of a Veterinary Diploma that was exclusively given by the Veterinary Schools.

On top of this, France has a National Council of Veterinary Specialization (CNSV), which is a legal entity that includes representatives from the various veterinary associations and the veterinary specialists union, academics from the veterinary schools and governmental officers. (see more information at “https://ebvs.eu/countries/france”).

As of 2015, France has established a middle tier qualification, which sits between the basic clinical level and the specialist level. The procedure for middle tier qualifications has not been defined for all animal species as of yet. For some species, such as the equine, a proper validation of acquired experience under academic supervision is enough. For some other species, a more thorough examination might be implemented. These procedures are conducted to ensure that veterinarian practitioners have the required knowledge and experience in each field to be able to examine and exercise their profession.

The middle tier qualification holders are not allowed to call themselves specialists and they cannot aim to hold a nationally recognized registration by the “Ordre des Vétérinaires” since there is not yet a separate list available for this category. However, it is expected to be one in the near future.

What is more, after graduating, all veterinary surgeons are required to continue compulsory education. This is established by the Ministry of Agriculture and the “Ordre des Vétérinaires”. Because continuing education is compulsory in France, it does not lead to the use of any qualification, and the records of attendance to continuing education sessions are maintained at practitioner level by Veterinary Schools.

Closing Thoughts…

As we saw, veterinary medicine in France is strictly regulated and functions perfectly at the highest level expected. This is simply because there are governmental institutions that regulate the practice very closely. In order to become a veterinary surgeon, aspirants need to undergo a very intense seven-year-long career, with a thesis dissertation after the fifth year. And even after graduating, veterinarians cannot exercise their profession until they register at the “Ordre des Vétérinaires” and receive their validating license.

Medicine training never truly ends for vets in France, as compulsory education is required of them. Therefore, when you go to the vet in France you can expect to receive the highest quality of service in Europe. Professional vets go the extra mile for your pet and you can rest assured that these professionals know what they are doing. Your furry friend will definitely be in good hands.

Veterinary medicine in France has definitely improved since its birth in 1766. Now, accompanied by technology and rigorous studies, the French can boast about having one of the most prestigious veterinary schools in Europe, as well as the world.

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