what is a vet techThe third week in October is National Veterinary assistant week. We’d like to honor the vet techs at Town N Country by sharing a little bit of what they do…

On a typical day, a veterinary assistant wears many hats, often jumping from one task to the next to ensure proper care for every patient.

Gathering Samples. Behind the scenes, a veterinary assistant team is hard at work assisting with laboratory work, X-rays, anesthesia, and surgery. In the hospital’s treatment area, veterinary assistants gather patient samples for lab tests to help diagnose complicated medical conditions. They may draw blood, collect urine, or walk a patient to get feces for analysis. Blood is prepared for automated analysis by in-house machines to diagnose infections, anemia, kidney failure, liver disease, and thyroid deficiency, to name a few.

Looking in a Microscope. A veterinary assistant also might make a blood slide for evaluation under a microscope in search of any abnormalities. They process urine to separate fluid from the solid components and then examine it microscopically to look for urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and kidney disease. Evaluating feces is a dirty job, but veterinary assistants happily look under the microscope for parasite eggs that explain why a pet has diarrhea.

Assisting with Digital Imaging.
Pets needing X-rays are in good hands. Veterinary assistants measure the body part to be radiographed, properly set the machine, and hold the patient in position to obtain a diagnostic image. Veterinary assistants assistants maintain most of the hospital equipment, including the X-ray machine, to ensure it’s ready to produce images to aid in a pet’s diagnosis.

Assisting during Surgery. When a pet needs anesthesia, a veterinary assistant will place an intravenous (IV) catheter, and administer the correct amount of IV fluids and then based on the Veterinarian’s calculations, administer the correct anesthetic dose to cause unconsciousness. After the pet is resting comfortably, a veterinary assistant will prepare the pet for his surgical procedure by placing an endotracheal (breathing) tube for oxygen and anesthetic gas administration. Throughout surgery, the veterinary assistant remains by the pet’s side, monitoring anesthetic depth and vital signs to ensure she remains at a safe anesthetic level. Afterward, she helps the patient wake up, keeping your pet warm and comfortable as he regains consciousness.

During surgery, a veterinary assistant shaves the patient’s fur and aseptically prepares the surgical site. She prepares the necessary sterile instruments and equipment, and is present throughout the procedure to assist the veterinarian by readying supplies, handing over instruments, and maintaining equipment, such as laser, cautery, and suction units. Afterward, she will clean and sterilize all equipment and instruments so they are ready for the next procedure.

This is just a snapshot of some of a veterinary assistant’s daily duties that make her invaluable in our hospital. Veterinary assistants work long, physically demanding shifts, with dirty jobs, but they return day after day with a smile, excited to fulfill their passion for helping pets stay healthy.