Veterinary Assistant

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What is a Veterinary Assistant?

Veterinary assistants look after non-farm animals in laboratories, animal hospitals, and clinics. They care for the well being of animals by doing routine tasks under the supervision of veterinarians, scientists, or veterinary technologists or technicians.

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What does a Veterinary Assistant do?

Veterinary assistants do many daily tasks, such as feeding, weighing, and taking the temperature of animals. Other routine duties may include giving medication, cleaning cages, or providing nursing care before and after surgery or other medical procedures.

Other things Veterinary Assistants do include:

  • Monitor and care for animals after surgery
  • Maintain and sterilize surgical instruments and equipment
  • Clean and disinfect cages, kennels, and examining and operating rooms
  • Help provide emergency first aid to sick or injured animals
  • Give medication or immunizations that veterinarians prescribe
  • Do routine laboratory tests, such as taking x-rays
  • Feed and bathe animals
  • Collect samples such as blood, urine, or tissue for testing.

Veterinary assistants play a large role in helping veterinarians and scientists with surgery and other procedures. They may prepare equipment and pass surgical instruments and materials to veterinarians during surgery. They may also move animals and hold or restrain them during testing and other procedures.

How to become a Veterinary Assistant

Most veterinary assistants have a high school diploma and learn on the job. Most veterinary assistants are trained on the job, but some employers prefer candidates who already have experience working with animals. Veterinary assistants must treat animals with kindness and be compassionate to both the animals and their owners.

Veterinary assistants also must follow strict instructions. For example, workers must be precise when sterilizing surgical equipment, monitoring animals, and giving medication. They must handle animals and use medical instruments and laboratory equipment with care.

What is the workplace of a Veterinary Assistant like?

Although the majority of veterinary assistants work in clinics and animal hospitals, others are employed in laboratories, colleges and universities, and research facilities. Their work may be physically or emotionally demanding. They may witness abused animals or may need to help euthanize sick, injured, or unwanted animals.

Veterinary assistants experience a work-related injury and illness rate that is much higher than that of most occupations. When working with scared or aggressive animals, they may be bitten, scratched, or kicked. A worker may be injured while holding, bathing, or restraining an animal.