a vet taking care of a dog

What is a Veterinary Assistant?

Veterinary assistants, also known as vet assistants, care for animals under the supervision of a veterinarian or a veterinary technician. Vet assistants care for the pets and help the pets’ owners with whatever they might need. They play a vital role in the veterinary office and in the healthcare field of animals. This is the person who greets and assists you and your furry or not so furry friend(s) at the vet’s office. If you love animals, this might be the perfect career path for you!

How to become a Veterinary Assistant

Before you apply to a veterinary assisting program you must have your high school diploma or general education diploma, GED. Employers are seeking trained and certified vet assistants who have completed the courses required to provide the care and knowledge needed for this role. Caris College offers a 10-month Veterinary Assistant Program in Indiana that provides students with these skills. Throughout the program, you will not only learn how to care for many different animals, but you will also gain hands-on training in the field through externship. 

Skills you will learn in school include:

  • Patient restraint and handling for all species including large animals, exotic animals, horses, pigs, etc.
  • “Husbandry” which is defined as what kind of food the patient eats, cage cleaning, animal cleaning, water, etc. 
  • Sterilization procedures and animal care

Responsibilities of a Veterinary Assistant

Vet assistants are an important part of the veterinary office. They greet patients, communicate with clients and the veterinarian, receive lab samples, and discuss patient histories. As a vet assistant, you are also responsible for daily tasks. These tasks could be monitoring and caring for animals’ post-surgery, cleaning cages, kennels, examining and operating rooms, and maintaining and sterilizing surgical equipment and instruments. Other roles and responsibilities are:

  • Assisting everyone in the vet office including veterinarians, vet techs, and patients.
  • Surgical preparation and assisting vet techs and veterinarians with animals ready for elective and emergency surgeries.
  • The art of pharmacology, basic dosage calculations, drug uses, reactions, and routes. 
  • Lab procedures such as testing protocols, microscopic fecal exam and skin scraping, DTM, urine specific gravity, and straining techniques. 
  • Animal restraint for multiple different types of procedures and exams such as blood draws, rectal exams, ear cleaning, etc. 
  • Client communication, education, vaccine protocols, and prevention.
  • Clerical responsibilities such as filing patient records, faxing, communicating with other veterinary offices, answering phone calls, and recording them. 

Characteristics & Skills of a Veterinary Assistant 

Some characteristics and skills a vet assistant should have are:

  • Communication skills: This is an important skill needed in order to be a vet assistant because you are responsible for communication with pet owners, veterinarians, and vet techs. Also, you need to be able to explain instructions for care, procedures, and other information clearly and effectively.  
  • Compassion: This is important because you are caring for animals. You need to show the animals kindness and show compassion toward the pet owners. 
  • Detail-oriented: As a vet assistant, you are in charge of multiple responsibilities at once. Being detail-oriented will help you stay on top of your tasks and provide the best possible care. 
  • Focus and multitasking: This job requires focus and the ability to juggle multiple tasks at once, which is why focus and multitasking are good skills to have. 
  • Physical strength and stamina: This job is physically demanding at times. You need to have the physical strength and stamina to handle, move, care, and restrain animals. 
  • Animal lover: All in all, you are here for the animals. Being an animal lover will help you enjoy your day to day tasks and work. 

Apply to a Veterinary Assistant Program

If you have a passion for animals, their care and well-being, consider the veterinary assisting program at Caris College. This program is a steppingstone into many career paths that provide financial stability and job satisfaction. To apply, complete the online application and an admissions rep will reach out to you. Schedule a tour for a first-hand look at our innovative campus and fully-equipped clinical labs.