What is a Veterinary Technician & What Does a Vet Tech Do?

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If you are wondering what is a vet tech then you are not alone. For most pet owners, the ability to get high quality, professional and modern vet care for their beloved dogs or other pets is of paramount importance. Additionally, the increasing importance of animal care regulations has made professional veterinary care a must.

ACC student taking care of a sick cat.

ACC student taking care of a sick cat.

Because of this, the ever expanding field of veterinary medicine is in need of qualified veterinary technicians who can assist regular vets and other professionals in this field by providing the utmost quality care pet owners expect.

What is a Vet Technician?

A veterinary technician is a certified vet who assists a veterinary doctor. Just like doctors need nurses to operate, similarly a vet counts on vet technicians to assist him. The type of work a vet tech does mainly depends on his experience, his skills and his specialties. For example, a veterinary technician who resides and works in a small town does different things than an experienced tech specialized in anesthesia who works in a large hospital.

A veterinary technician is therefore a very important person in a vet lab or vet clinic. Without a vet technician, the vet doctor cannot accomplish his daily goals and is unable to provide top-quality services.

What Does A Veterinary Tech Do?

A veterinary technician provides a wide variety of services while assisting the vet doctor. In most cases, these services are in accordance to the state law, catering to the supervising veterinarian needs.

A vet tech drawing blood from a horse.

A vet tech drawing blood from a horse.

Some of the most common duties of a vet tech include:

  • Carry out the initial physical examination: when an animal is originally admitted into the clinic, the vet has to perform certain tests & tasks such as taking its basic measurements, record any symptoms of injury or illness and prescribe a treatment.
  • First aid treatment: in case the animal is suffering from an illness or an injury, the vet tech must provide the initial treatment. This first aid treatment will stabilize the pet, preparing it for the next treatment that will be performed by the vet.
  • Administer the medication prescribed by the doctor: the technician has to administer the medication prescribed by the vet doctor. Moreover, he will instruct the pet owner on how to easily administer the medication.
  • Assist the veterinary team: if the whole team is required to immobilize or treat a hostile or frightened animal, everyone will be required to take part. In most instances, if only one or two doctors try to immobilize the animal, they might end up being hurt.
  • Talking with and educating the clients: more than often, the vet has to talk with those customers who are either angry or anxious to see their pet looking sharp again. One of the most common duties of veterinary technicians is to discuss with these customers and make them understand that their pet is in good hands.
  • Collecting and analyzing lab samples.
  • Taking X-rays.
  • Cleaning the cages and the animals. Moreover, a tech may be asked to prepare the animals for surgery and assist the doctors during surgeries.
  • Office work: sometimes the veterinary technician must do the paperwork and office work. Answering calls, updating case files or calling customers are just some of his assignments.

Vet Tech Specialties

What does a vet tech do? Well… as a vet technician, you can choose to specialize in several fields. In most cases, these specializing fields require certification from an accredited program and additional work experience. Among the vet tech specialties recognized by NAVTA (National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America), the most important are:

Anesthesia careAnimal dentistryNursing technology
Emergency careInternal medicineBehavioral medicine
Nutrition & dietClinical pathologyClinical practice
Zoological medicine

Putting bluntly, the more you specialize the better the pay and annual income.

Veterinary Technicians and Exotic Animals

If you are questioning what is a vet tech in relation to wild and exotic animals then just know that many vet techs work in environments where exotic animals are present. In other words, they are specialized in treating exotic animals, such as equines, reptiles and mammals. Working with venomous snakes or apes might be a dangerous business, especially for people with no experience.

If you want to become an “exotic” vet tech, you need to be specialized in wildlife. If you choose this career, you have the privilege of treating hundreds of species, from dolphins and sea turtles to lions and giraffes.

There is no reward greater than taking care of animals in need!

Becoming a veterinary technician is a dream of many, especially with more and more people being attracted by animals. Even if the working conditions are not the best, as a vet tech you can get the satisfaction that you have saved the lives of countless animals and pets.