Designing veterinary surgeries


Veterinary surgeries must be designed so as to meet certain legal requirements, but, more importantly, with the animals and their owners in mind. In practice, many issues are already regulated at ministerial level or in commonly used standards, but such restrictions only make designing veterinary surgeries even more complicated for architects.


The first task that the designer must fulfill is to designate individual rooms and zones. This is dictated by regulations, but for the convenience of animals and their owners, it is possible to complicate the basic division a little – owing to this the entire veterinary surgery will become more transparent and orderly.


A waiting room with an area of at least 6 meters (in clinics at least 12) and with seats provided. Usually, if the housing conditions allow, a slightly larger waiting room is created and it is often connected to the reception or registration desk. It is also worth to designate a cloakroom zone in the waiting room, where animal owners will be able to leave their outer clothes.


An admission room with an area of not less than 8 square meters. It must also be equipped with a washbasin, disposable towels and a container for used towels. In addition, designing veterinary surgeries requires to provide space for mandatory equipment in the admission room: treatment table, sterilizers, biocidal lamp, and - if necessary - equipment for the administration of intravenous drugs and a shadowless light source.


Sanitary facilities not smaller than 3 square meters. Hot and cold water must be supplied here, and the access to disposable towels and a container to throw away used ones must be provided.


Social facilities with an area of 3, 6 or 9 square meters (in the case of veterinary surgeries, centers and clinics, respectively). It is also necessary to install a washbasin here.


Treatment room with an area not smaller than 8 square meters. Here, it is necessary to place a large amount of auxiliary equipment, and additional requirements also include the need to finish walls up to a height of 2 meters (with a minimum allowable room height of 2.2 meters) with non-absorbable, washable and durable material.


Operating or treatment and operating rooms of various sizes (depending on the character of the room and the size of the animals to be operated), rooms for stationary treatment, observation and isolation, if the office provides such services.


Storage rooms for: disinfectants (minimum 2 square meters), medicinal products (6 meters) and backup facilities (8 meters).

From the above, it is not difficult to conclude that in many cases rational spatial arrangement of all rooms and planning separate areas will be an art. However, this is a necessary requirement firstly to obtain the acceptance and, secondly, to ensure the proper quality of the services provided. We should remember that a transparent, sensibly furnished surgery is a prerequisite for providing a sense of comfort to animals and their owners.


The design of veterinary surgeries often starts with the development of a lighting concept. Although the regulations clearly provide that some rooms: admission rooms with waiting area, treatment rooms, operating rooms, operating and treatment rooms and rooms for stationary treatment and observation of animals must be located at ground level or in the basement, but above all they must be set in such a way so as to maximally use even the least amount of natural light.
The remaining rooms – and the basic ones as well – also require the use of artificial lighting. Apart from the shadowless lamps, which are more technical equipment than an arrangement element, we can choose from many different types of available light sources. In waiting rooms the louver limunaires or LED lighting is often used, while in treatments rooms the selection of light sources is carried out primarily on the basis of the expected use of the room. Most often, interior designers try to ensure that artificial lighting imitates natural light well, but it is not necessary everywhere.

Ceiling lighting is the main element of the entire system - bright light sources are placed here, although a dimmer can be installed in the control system to control energy consumption and ensure the highest comfort.

Lighting the obstacles, if they are in the office (stairs, steps, columns) can be used as an additional decorative element.

The place where designers can allow a bit more freedom is only a waiting room and reception or registration area. Here, however, it should also be borne in mind that intense ligting in colors significantly deviating from natural light may disturb animals.


In the treatment rooms, the finishes in either white or delicate pastel colors are used, which helps to calm the animals. Bright colors and contrasting combinations are not used here. When it comes to intense colors, they are almost not used at all, apart from green. Although in the reception and waiting room we can theoretically allow for it, it is not recommended – the coloring of the interior of the veterinary surgery is subordinated to the function it fulfills, because color can be the best sedative.
Contrasting colors are used only in some, more spacious and bright rooms, but also then their use is most often not dictated only by aesthetics – they serve the purpose of optical isolation of certain zones of the surgery or a delicate break of the impression of sterility, which can also act disturbingly.


While in the offices actually classified as veterinary surgeries, no complicated treatments are carried out, along with the change of classification (veterinary practice, centers or clinics), the designer will also have to take into account specific requirements related to the installation of specialized equipment, which includes an oxygen cylinder or X-ray machine. Technical requirements regarding the technical conditions that must be met by rooms in which such equipment is stored and used are described in very different legal acts, most often in the regulations of competent ministers. Interference with a permanent fixture is rarely required, while the designer must take into account the requirements for additional safeguards of such premises and their proper marking.

Particular attention in any veterinary surgery should be paid to a properly operating ventilation system. Assisted ventilation systems are most often used to guarantee the possibility of regulating the rate of exchange, and an even more advantageous solution may be the installation of air conditioning, which also allows to provide the facility with the required temperature.

The design of the veterinary surgery must provide for the use of an emergency power supply network. Offices classified as veterinary surgeries are not always equipped with it, but in the case of units classified as clinic, center or hospital, it should be acknowledged that an emergency installation is necessary.

In the design of the veterinary sugery, a separate room should be provided for temporary storage of waste and biologically contaminated materials. In this case it is also often necessary to apply additional protective measures and safeguards.


Even in those cases where the regulations do not specify clearly which finishing materials can be used, it is worth to use such finishes that do not react to moisture, are insensitive to chemical agents, are smooth and easy to keep clean. Such requirements are met by glazed ceramic tiles, some types of stoneware, as well as PVC floor coverings. Since the same rules apply to the selection of furniture, it is usually made of laminates, less often stainless steel or glass.

The furniture should have a hanging structure or should be placed on furniture legs, which allows easy cleaning also directly under them. The reception room – if it is in the surgery – can be built directly on the floor or placed on it.

If there is a need to store medical supplies and medications in the office, not in a warehouse, then they should be placed in a lockable cabinet to minimize the risk of accidental taking of the wrong preparation. It will be comfortable to place a handy fridge for the currently used medictions within the surgery, although it is strongly recommended to place it outside of the surgery, e.g. in a medication warehouse.
Veterinary surgeries should be designed in such a way that in the admission room, treatment rooms and operating rooms there is only this furniture which is needed there. By limiting the amount of furniture, the space available increases and it is easier to keep the sugery in impeccable cleanliness.


Designing veterinary surgeries requires first of all determining the rank of the office, as it defines the basic parameters and housing conditions. Later, an installation and furnishing of the interior is being developed, and finally issues related to aesthetics – this is usually quite uniform, and individual accents are limited only to a few decorative elements that can be placed in the waiting room or reception area.

See also: Technological design for Sanitary Inspectorate