What is a Veterinary Assistant?

Also known as: Veterinarian Assistant, Vet 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, animal 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.

Various duties of Veterinary Assistants:

  • 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.

Veterinary assistants must show emotional strength, stability and maturity in cases where they must treat abused animals or euthanize those who cannot be returned to a reasonable quality of life. Good people skills are also necessary, as veterinary assistants are often the first point of contact for distressed animal owners.

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, 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 work full or part time, and often have the option of flexible hours. Those who work in 24-hour facilities such as animal hospitals will have the opportunity to work evenings, nights, weekends or holidays.


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