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So you’ve decided that a job working with animals is for you and you’re thinking that working alongside a vet at your local veterinary clinic would be the ideal place to start. But before you commit your time and energy to this new career path, you’re wondering what it’s really like to be a vet assistant? 

Well you’re in luck as here we tell you what you need to know! We’ll explain the job description of a veterinary assistant as well as list out their key responsibilities.

Quite often people will use the term vet nurse and vet assistant interchangeably, however these are two different professions with different skills and responsibilities. It’s important to understand the difference between a vet assistant and a vet nurse; 

A veterinary nurse provides support to veterinarians in the care of animals receiving medical and surgical treatment. They perform high-level tasks such as working closely with animals in pre and post-operative care. This may comprise of preparing animals for surgery, helping with the administration of anaesthesia during surgery, performing dental procedures along with taking and running tests on blood and stool samples. Often vet nurses meet with clients and their animals before a veterinarian to evaluate the issue or injury of the animal and also educates owners on proper surgery aftercare.

veterinary assistant or veterinary nurse on the other hand looks after the basic needs of animals in their care by feeding them, monitoring their weight, ensuring they're bathed and keeping their kennels or cages clean, they may also administer medications, and nurse the animal after procedures.

A vet assistant responsibilities will vary depending on what kind of setting they work in such as a zoo or clinic, however the key responsibilities of a vet assistant remain the same and that is looking after the basic needs of an animal by:

  • Feeding, bathing, and exercising the animals
  • Cleaning and disinfecting cages, kennels, examination and operating rooms
  • Restraining animals during examination and laboratory procedures
  • Maintaining and sterilising surgical instruments and equipment
  • Monitoring and caring for animals after surgery
  • Helping to provide emergency first aid to sick and injured animals
  • Giving medication or immunisations that veterinarians prescribe
  • Assisting in the collecting of blood, urine, and tissue samples

If you’re interested in animal care courses, a good place to start is to approach your local veterinary practice and try to get some work experience (as this is how many assistants begin their career in the industry). You can also look into the array of animal health and veterinary care courses and courses to become a veterinary nurse at Online Courses Australia.


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