Spanish for the Veterinary Professional

A language program focused on increasing access to care for the Spanish-speaking community

Spanish for the Veterinary Professional is currently only available to students enrolled in the Colorado State University D.V.M. Program. The language program will be available online to D.V.M. students at other institutions starting Fall 2024, and to practicing veterinarians starting Fall 2025.

Program overview

Our unique language program is designed for those in the veterinary field who aspire to improve their engagement and communication with Spanish-speaking animal caretakers. The Spanish for veterinarians program provides students with the language skills necessary to communicate about animal health in a clinical setting. With these skills, veterinarians can create rapport, build trust, and develop relationships with Spanish-speaking pet owners. This program is designed specifically for the future veterinary practitioner to engage with clients and build successful treatment and wellness plans to support animal care through shared language.

Through the collaboration of veterinary and second language acquisition experts from CSU’s D.V.M. Program and Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures, the curriculum was created to ensure the content reflects the actual language needs of the veterinary field and their clientele. Program content and design is informed by data gathered from a comprehensive language needs analysis conducted alongside veterinary professionals in Colombia and Mexico, and predominantly Spanish-speaking communities in the U.S.

Made possible by PetSmart Charities®

This unique language program is made possible thanks to PetSmart Charities®, whose significant support helps increase access to veterinary care for Limited English Proficient (LEP) Spanish-speaking pet owners and animal caretakers through the development and delivery of Spanish for the Veterinary Professional. PetSmart Charities® also provided support for extensive research on the Spanish language needs of the veterinary field and D.V.M. student perspectives on learning Spanish for their careers.

Admissions criteria

Students who enter the program must have a Spanish proficiency level of novice-high or above on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) scale. At this level, speakers are able to respond to simple, direct questions or requests for information about common topics and basic personal information, and are able to express personal meaning in simple phrases using the present tense. This level is commonly achieved by taking two to three college-level language courses or the equivalent (e.g., exposure in the home/community, travel/study abroad, bilingual schooling, etc.).

Spanish proficiency level will be determined through an online language placement exam offered through the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures or an oral proficiency interview given by course instructors.


The Spanish for veterinarians program consists of four 2-credit, instructor-led Spanish language courses and one cultural capstone course that is delivered in English. The courses are semester-length (fall and spring) and taken sequentially over two years. Throughout each course students will be exposed to critical communicative skillsets such as gauging clarity of communication, addressing client concerns, and expressing empathy and encouragement. Important aspects of the veterinary visit such as cost, risk, and consent will be threaded throughout the curriculum.

Students will learn how to incorporate use of a variety of communication tools to their benefit, including online translation apps. They will also leave the program with a communication toolkit of review manuals, dictionaries, and templates for important client communication (i.e., discharge instructions and intake sheets, etc.).


Spanish for Veterinary Wellness Appointments (2 credits)

This course focuses on the wellness appointment. Students learn how to obtain patient and client information, establish normal healthy animal behaviors, and discuss preventive care practices, including vaccines, parasite control, spay/neuter, and nutrition.

Spanish for Veterinary Health Histories (2 credits)

This course focuses on obtaining health histories. Students learn how to identify the presenting problem, ask questions about abnormal behaviors and indicators of illness (coughing, sneezing, vomiting, etc.), and obtain information about the onset, duration, and detailed nuances of the client’s concern. Students will also begin to explain the next stages of the visit and obtain client consent to proceed with treatment.

Spanish for Veterinary Diagnostics (2 credits)

This course focuses on diagnostic procedures. Students learn how to describe and recommend diagnostic tests (such as urinalysis and radiographs) as well as how to explain the results, potential diagnoses, and the associated diseases or conditions (i.e., Glucosuria indicating diabetes).

Spanish for Veterinary Treatment Plans (2 credits)

This course focuses on the treatment plan. Students learn how to recommend treatment options (in hospital and at home), discuss outcomes and risks, and negotiate a plan with the client. From there, they learn about medication administration (including communication of prescription directions in written and spoken format) as well as at-home care and follow-up instructions.

D.V.M.: Cultural Awareness and Access to Care (1 credit)

This 1-credit capstone course focuses on the cultural awareness needs of the veterinary professional and leads the learner through a big-picture assessment to create an accessible veterinary clinic.