The Role of a Veterinary Assistant
Some of the specific tasks of a vet assistant include checking the vital signs of patients, weighing them, and asking an owner questions about the animal. Also, an assistant often calms a dog or cat during the veterinarian’s examination. Vet assistants may exercise the dogs and cats that are staying overnight at the clinic. Cleaning cages, wiping down exam tables, and feeding animals are other tasks of vet assistants.
Veterinary assistants are responsible for keeping the animals under their care clean and safe. They bathe, clean and disinfect animal cages, sterilize surgical equipment and perform daily caretaking tasks such as feeding and weighing animals. They administer medications, collect blood, urine and tissue samples for testing, perform lab tests and monitor animals during surgery. Vet assistants also perform the important task of maintaining the charts that document daily care.
In addition to the animal care they provide, veterinary assistants also assist pet owners. They are often the first point of contact for clients, and as such set the tone for their experience. Veterinary assistants educate pet owners about illnesses, medications and general care, and answer their questions and concerns.
Pets are important members of the family in more than 60% of households in the United States today. As integral members of the veterinary care team, veterinary assistants have the reward and satisfaction of assisting these beloved companion animals and their owners.
Veterinary assistants work in several types of environments. Some assistants work in animal hospitals or clinics. Others work in the private practices of veterinarians. In addition, some veterinary assistants work in mobile units that travel around giving medical care to dogs and cats where they live. A veterinary assistant can work in a large practice with several veterinarians or in a small practice with just one vet. Furthermore, the work hours of a vet assistant are dependent upon where he or she works. Some animal hospitals are open 24 hours a day which means that a vet assistant may work overnight or during the day. Alternatively, a person working in a veterinarian’s private office often works regular office hours.