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Vet Near Me – The States with the Highest and Lowest Number of Veterinarians

Lily Velez

By

Medically reviewed by

Veterinarians.org Staff

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vet near me

Vet Near Me – The States with the Highest and Lowest Number of Veterinarians: Highlights

  • South Dakota comes in at number one for the state with the highest number of employed veterinarians. South Dakota boasts over 48 veterinarians per 100,000 people, which is over 70% more veterinarians than Arkansas, the state with the lowest number of employed veterinarians in the nation per 100,000 people. 
  • Only five states in the study’s rankings boast 40 or more veterinarians per 100,000 people: South Dakota, New Hampshire, Montana, Vermont, and Maine. 
  • A third of the states in the top ranking are based in the nation’s Midwest region, where agricultural production is among the highest in the world.
  • Arkansas is the state with the lowest number of employed veterinarians, with only 14 veterinarians per 100,000 people. New Jersey, West Virginia, Nevada, Illinois, and Texas also all boast less than 18 veterinarians per 100,000 people.
  • Six states in total from the study’s bottom rankings are among the highest payers for veterinarians (Arkansas, West Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida). Veterinarians in these states make anywhere from 115%-146% more than the state’s average salary. 

 

The term ‘vet near me’ receives over half a million searches a month. In 2020 and 2021, meanwhile, Google searches for ‘online vet’ reached unprecedented heights. 

Whether taking the form of an in-office visit or a telehealth check-up, the need for veterinarians is a fixture of life for pet owners across the United States. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of veterinarians is projected to grow by 17% by 2030. For pet owners, this is promising news. Pet owners rely on veterinarians to diagnose and treat their companion animals and to help support the animal’s wellness throughout its life. 

Unfortunately, not all pet owners presently have the same access to quality veterinary care in the U.S. The Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org dove into labor statistics data to uncover the ‘vet deserts’ across the nation and which states come out on both the top and bottom when it comes to the number of employed veterinarians per 100,000 people. 

 

 

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Vet Near Me: Methodology

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics annually publishes comprehensive resource materials for each occupation within the U.S. economy. These guides detail the average annual wage for each occupation and also includes resources regarding projected growth outlooks along with state and area data around employment and wages

For the purpose of this study, the Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org analyzed the Bureau’s 2020 Report on Veterinarians with a specific focus on the geographic profile of employment across all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. To account for variations in population between metropolitan areas and rural regions, the Team also factored in population data sourced from the Statista Research Department. States were then ranked by the number of employed veterinarians in the state per 100,000 people.  

 

The States with the Highest and Lowest Number of Employed Veterinarians: Overview

To account for variations in employment levels between metropolitan areas and rural parts of the country, the Special Reports Team at Veterinarians.org focused on three figures: 

  • 1: The number of employed veterinarians in each state
  • 2: The population size in each state 
  • 3: The number of employed veterinarians per 100,000 people in each state

 

The Team’s ranking of the highest and lowest number of employed veterinarians across the U.S. is based on the third figure in particular: the number of employed veterinarians per 100,000 people. The below map numbers all U.S. states (and the District of Columbia) on a scale of 1-50, with 1 representing the state with the highest number of employed veterinarians and 51 indicating the state with the lowest number of employed veterinarians. The second figure represents the number of employed veterinarians per 100,000 people in each state. 

South Dakota comes in at number one for the state with the highest number of employed veterinarians. South Dakota boasts over 48 veterinarians per 100,000 people, which is over 70% more veterinarians than Arkansas, the state with the lowest number of employed veterinarians in the nation. Interestingly, every state in the Top 15 ranking is located north of the country’s geographic center, with exception to Colorado and Virginia, which land directly on the median line. The states with the lowest number of employed veterinarians, meanwhile, have a more diverse distribution geographically speaking, but also include three of the most populated states in the nation: New York, California, and Florida.  

Vet Near Me: The States with the Highest and Lowest Number of Employed Veterinarians

 

The States with the Highest Number of Employed Veterinarians  

South Dakota leads the pack with an impressive number of just over 48 employed veterinarians per 100,000 people, a figure that’s 58% higher than the last state rounding out the top rankings (Minnesota). In fact, only five states in the study’s rankings boast 40 or more veterinarians per 100,000 people, with New Hampshire, Montana, Vermont, and Maine taking the remaining spots. 

The study additionally shows that a third of the states in the top ranking are based in the nation’s midwest region, where agricultural production is among the highest in the world. With livestock playing an important role in such an industry, it’s no surprise to find a high number of veterinarians practicing within the ‘Corn Belt.’ 

Agriculture is also one of the top three leading industries in the Cowboy State of Wyoming, while states like Montana, Colorado, Oregon, and Oklahoma are some of the nation’s leading or top producers of various agricultural commodities. In fact, in Oregon alone, agriculture results in over $5 billion in agricultural production, which may explain why it’s one of the top paying states for veterinarians in the nation. 

Veterinarians are understandably in high demand in regions where agriculture is a top contributor to a state’s economy and where successful enterprises depend heavily on healthy livestock.

The States with the Highest Number of Employed Veterinarians

 

The States with the Lowest Number of Employed Veterinarians  

Based on the data, Arkansas is the state with the lowest number of employed veterinarians per 100,000 people. Interestingly enough, the state is also the highest paying state for veterinarians. Veterinarians in Arkansas take home an annual average salary that’s 146.7% higher than the average salary across all occupations in the state. 

In fact, six states in total from the study’s bottom rankings are among the highest payers for veterinarians. After Arkansas, veterinarians in West Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Florida make anywhere from 115-140% more than the state’s average salary. It may be that such salaries are a way to attract veterinarians to states where the occupation isn’t as prevalent. 

Despite occupational underrepresentation when it comes to veterinarians, a third of the states in the bottom ranking actually place among the highest in the nation when it comes to schools of veterinary medicine. The University of California–Davis, Cornell University, Texas A&M University, the University of Florida, and the University of Georgia all rank in the Top 10 for U.S. News & World Report’s Best Veterinary Schools.  

Data additionally shows that underrepresentation isn’t stopping pet owners from pursuing care for their companion animals in the age of telemedicine. In the state of Arkansas, for instance, where veterinarians are the hardest to come by, Google searches for ‘online vet’ have been among the highest in the nation. The same is true for West Virginia and New York. Telehealth companies for pets have become increasingly popular within the past years and may prove to be a much needed resource that bridges the gap between pet owners and expert care. 

The States with the Lowest Number of Employed Veterinarians (Including D.C.)

 

Vet Near Me: Final Thoughts

With the veterinary occupation projected to grow by 17% by the year 2030, pet owners in states where veterinarians are currently in short supply may have much to look forward to. Bigger salaries in underrepresented states and the proximity of top-ranking schools of veterinary medicine may also help to draw more veterinarians to such states. However, telehealth options also hold much promise. Online vets and telemedicine for animals may prove to be a viable option for millions of pet owners across the nation who currently don’t have reasonable access to in-person vet services. As such options become more popular and well-known, companion animals will be able to enjoy quality care at every stage of life no matter what state they live in.