What a Veterinarian Does

Veterinary medicine is about more than just helping Fido get rid of fleas and spaying and neutering pets. Veterinarians must have a thorough knowledge of a variety of animal species, from cats and dogs to birds and reptiles. Each day, your veterinarian will see dozens of patients and perform multiple tasks, from conducting complex orthopedic surgeries and treating diseases to examining pets and administering vaccinations.

A typical day in the life of your veterinarian is anything but “typical.” An otherwise quiet morning may be interrupted by an emergency surgery, and an afternoon may be filled with examinations, medical treatments, or catching up on the latest advances in veterinary medicine.

Much like your family doctor, your veterinarian must undergo years of education and training before setting up shop. In addition to completing their undergraduate degrees, veterinarians typically go through four years of schooling at a veterinary medical school, along with internships and assistantships, before earning their Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. In addition, veterinarians must pass state licensing examinations before they can practice.

Most pet owners are familiar with pet practitioners—veterinarians who treat dogs and cats and, sometimes, exotic animals or pocket pets. These veterinarians are often generalists, skilled in medicine and surgery for a number of different animal species. However, some practitioners specialize in various areas of medicine—ophthalmology, dentistry, orthopedic surgery, dermatology and so on. In particularly tough cases, your veterinarian may refer your pet to a specialist for further treatment.

Aside from the pet practitioner, there are many other branches in the veterinary medical field. Large animal veterinarians specialize in the treatment of livestock and horses and are integral in keeping farm animals healthy and productive. Veterinarians specializing in exotic animals are experts when it comes to the treatment of snakes, lizards, birds and other uncommon pet species. And some veterinarians specialize in laboratory work, researching cures for diseases, developing new medications and pushing the boundaries of both animal and human medicine. A veterinarian is a physician, surgeon, pharmacist, counselor, researcher and more—all rolled into one.


Mountainview Animal Hospital is committed to providing excellence in veterinary care, and stands out as a leading veterinarian in Columbia County. Our doctors use the latest in veterinary techniques to provide your pets with exceptional care. Learn more about our team below.

  • alan topal
    Alan J. Topal DVM

    Dr. Alan Topal, owner of Mountainview Animal Hospital since 1996.  Dr. Topal attended Tufts University and was awarded his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in 1988.  Originally from Suffern, New York, he was an equine practioner at Belmont Race Track before moving to Columbia County.  He is a veterinary practioner whose professional interests includes surgery, ophthalmology, orthopedic procedures and newer procedures such as stem cell therapy.  Dr. Topal is a member of the AVMA and Capital District Veterinary Association.  In his spare time, he enjoys playing indoor and outdoor Polo and spending time with his horses and two Austrailian Cattledogs, Ianessa and Stetson.

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8:30 am - 5:00 pm


8:30 am - 6:00 pm


8:30 am - 5:00 pm


8:30 am - 6:00 pm


8:30 am - 5:00 pm





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