What Would We Do Without Our Technicians?

0 Comments Wednesday, October 15th, 2014.

It’s National Veterinary Technician Week! October 12th – 18th is a week dedicated to honoring veterinary technicians across the country. First celebrated in 1993, National Vet Tech week provides an opportunity to recognize veterinary technicians’ contributions to veterinary medicine.

Katie and Jesse

Katie and Jesse prepare to place a catheter

Veterinary technicians are essential to the daily function of veterinary practices, and play a vital role in preserving animal health and welfare.  They have an extensive skill set and provide the veterinarian with technical support in all aspects of patient care. Veterinary technicians may also be employed by research organizations, aquariums, zoos, or farms.

Some technicians are trained on the job by the veterinarian or by other technicians, while others attend schools that offer two or four year degrees in the science of veterinary technology. After completing a formal academic program or by taking a state-administered certification test, one can become credentialed as a veterinary technician.

But what does a veterinary technician actually do?

Veterinary technicians perform a multitude of roles. For starters, vet techs are nurses. They work alongside veterinarians similar to the way a nurse aids a doctor. At the beginning of an exam they obtain a medical history which aids the veterinarian in diagnostics.  They trim nails, express anal glands, remove surgical sutures, clip and clean wounds, apply bandages, and perform other routine procedures.

Veterinary technicians are also phlebotomists. They are responsible for drawing blood from patients for various tests and procedures. They must have knowledge of a variety of laboratory tests. In addition, vet techs also collect stool, urine and tissue samples for testing.

Katie and Jesse

Katie and Jesse review an x-ray

Veterinary technicians are laboratory, radiology, and pharmacy technicians. They perform a variety of diagnostic testing such as urinalysis, in-house blood tests, skin and ear cytology, and fecal exams. They take x-rays and process them for examination by the doctor. Furthermore, vet techs prepare medications to be sent home, as well as administer medications, vaccines, and treatments prescribed by a veterinarian.


Shelby monitors vitals during surgery

Veterinary technicians are anesthetists and assist veterinarians with surgical procedures. Routine tasks may include pre-anesthetic preparation, evaluating patients, giving fluids, administering anesthesia, managing ventilation, and maintaining sedation. During the procedure veterinary technicians closely monitor the patients’ vitals such as their heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature.  Vet techs also provide recovery care by monitoring emergence from anesthesia and providing post-anesthesia care.

Depending on their level of experience and training, some veterinary technicians are dental hygienists. During dental prophylaxis, they ultrasonically and manually remove tartar and plaque from your pets’ teeth. In addition, vet techs polish teeth and take full-mouth x-rays to check for any dental disease or tooth decay below the gum line. Veterinary technicians also offer guidance on various dental care products and educate owners on the proper way to brush and care for their pets’ teeth at home.

Katie and Lita

Katie and Lita prepare a patient for surgery


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Jesse educates clients on dental care and dental prophylaxis

Veterinary technicians assist with emergency care. Much like a nurse at a hospital, when a patient arrives in need of critical care, a vet tech performs triage by taking vitals and assessing the animal’s condition. They then present their evaluation to the veterinarian and assist with treatment.

Veterinary technicians are teachers. They educate clients based on the needs of each individual pet. Vet techs provide owners with information on various medical conditions and illnesses. They instruct clients on how to administer medications and care for wounds at home. They demonstrate how to properly clean ears and trim nails. They recommend products for diets, dental care and parasite prevention.

Most importantly, veterinary technicians are friends. They provide comfort to sick pets as well as patients recovering from surgery. They are a friendly face and true animal advocates. They help pets feel at ease during their exam by offering love and treats. They are advice givers, caretakers, and sometimes they are a shoulder for owners to cry on.

Although we value veterinary technicians every day of the year, we take this week to honor their dedication to compassionate, exceptional veterinary care for all animals. Thank you for all that you do!


Top: Shelby, Julie, and Lita.     Bottom: Jesse, Katie, and Dina.


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