What Animals Do Vet Techs Work With?

Published on February 6, 2020 by arothstein

Veterinarian and vet tech assists animals

If you love animals, you may just love a career caring for animals. A lot of students enroll in programs to become veterinarians. However, some animal lovers may not have the time to dedicate to veterinary school. Thankfully, there are other options to gain the training in a career that you will love.

Enrolling in an accredited veterinary technology program allows students to earn an Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology in less than two years. After passing the Veterinary Technology National Exam (VTNE), graduates are qualified to work as a Certified Veterinary Technologist (CVT).

Clinical Practice Vet Techs

Clinical practice veterinary technicians care for animals under the supervision of a veterinarian. Certified vet techs may work in private practices, small animal practices, farm or large animal settings, or zoos and animal sanctuaries.

There are three different classifications for clinical practice vet techs:
  1. Canines and Felines
  2. Exotic Pets
  3. Production or livestock animals

Necessary Skills for Clinical Vet Techs

Veterinary technicians must be familiar with a variety of medical protocols and nursing skills to care for animals. The vet tech must also understand office protocol and administrative duties in clinics.

Veterinary technicians that care for animals administer the treatments that veterinarians prescribe. The care that veterinary technicians provide for the animals may include pre-and post-operative nursing. They may also have to monitor the vital signs and report symptoms of animals in their care.

Besides the care of animals, the necessary duties of a veterinary technician are to maintain the medical equipment in the practice and make sure that surgical instruments are clean and sterilized.

Vet Tech Care for Dogs and Cats

A vet tech is an invaluable part of a team that cares for dogs and cats. A veterinarian is the only animal healthcare provider that can diagnose illness or injuries, prescribe medications, and perform surgical procedures. However, vet techs handle a lot of the care of the animals within a practice.

The Roles of the Vet Tech

The vet tech greets a client and their dog or cat and handles the initial assessment of the animal’s condition. A vet tech is a liaison between a pet owner and the veterinarian. The vet tech may also handle administrative tasks in the office. Each day in a veterinary practice is different for a veterinary technician.


The vet tech initially examines the animal and reports the finding to the veterinarian. If an animal is injured, the vet tech may have to perform emergency first aid before the veterinarian sees the pet.

Animal Histories

The vet tech obtains the cat or dog’s case history. For example a vet tech asks the owner about their pets diet and exercise habits. If a cat or dog is sick, the vet tech may ask to help the veterinarian determine the cause of the illness.

Assisting the Veterinarian

Additionally, a veterinary technician trims a dog or cat’s nails, preps animals for surgery, assists with surgery, and monitors animals during recovery. Although the vet tech doesn’t determine medications, they are usually the person who administers the dosage.

Client Education

Additionally, an essential duty of a vet tech is to educate pet owners. For example, some education topics include basic care, nutrition, and training methods. A vet tech can also advise a dog or cat owner about the schedule for vaccines and their uses.

Calm Under Pressure

In high pressure situations, a vet tech must remain calm while caring for animals. When a pet doesn’t feel well or has an injury, it may be in pain or fearful. Because of this, the vet tech must have the ability to soothe the animal and help it remain calm. As a result, the animal may respond to treatment better when it is not stressed.

Veterinary Tech Care for Exotic Pets

To begin, an exotic pet is one that isn’t domesticated. Although most people think of reptiles as being exotic, there are a lot of other exotic species of pets. There are several reasons that pet owners prefer exotic species to other animals.

Exotics and Domestics: Similarities and Differences

Despite their differences, exotic pets should have the same, high-quality care of domesticated animals. Symptoms of illness in exotic pets don’t always manifest in the same way as they do in domesticated animals. As a result, they may also require special treatment. A vet tech who works in an exotic veterinary practice handles many of the same duties as a small animal practice, including:

Special Considerations

Exotic animals may live with a family, or their habitat may be in a sanctuary. An exotic pet technician has the training to care for exotics and special situations. For example, this can include anything from drawing blood from a turtle housed in its shell to taking a culture form a hedgehog that’s rolled into a ball.

Unique Dietary Needs

One of the primary duties of a vet tech who cares for exotic species is explaining to owners about the unique dietary needs. Most of the food in pet stores aren’t suitable for the nutritional needs of exotic pets. A vet tech must know what foods these animals need to keep them healthy and happy.

Farm Animals and Livestock

Farm animals like cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens require specialized care. Because of this, livestock veterinarians need qualified vet techs to assist them. A career as a farm vet tech offers a different experience from one in a small animal practice.

On the Go

A farm vet tech travels to farms, ranches, and animal sanctuaries with the veterinarian. Working with livestock requires a lot of stamina and patience. Additionally, travel means that shifts may be longer since many locations require travel.

Special Livestock Procedures

When a farmer or rancher has a large herd, a farm animal vet tech assists with giving vaccinations to the herd. Even more, the veterinary technician may also assist a veterinarian with dehorning. A farm animal vet tech must also be on call and ready to help with any emergency, including a livestock birth in the middle of the night.

In addition to keeping large animals restrained for examinations, a farm vet tech may have to assess an animal for a lameness problem. The vet tech may also bandage legs or tails that are injured, clean animal’s hooves, provide first aid, and handle post-operative care.

Equine Vet Techs

If you’re passionate about horses and learning more about medical breakthroughs, a career as an equine vet tech may be the path for you. An equine vet tech assists a veterinarian with wellness exams and treatment when a horse is recovering from illness or an injury. Horses are powerful animals, and it requires a lot of strength and stamina to restrain them while the vet handles the examination.

Duties of the Equine Vet Tech

The duties of an equine vet tech can vary from day to day and may include:

The vet tech can help to keep a horse calm during an examination by petting it and speaking in a soothing voice. The veterinary technician will hand instruments to the veterinarian during examinations and take x-rays. Although a vet tech can’t prescribe medications or perform surgery, they may offer a second opinion if the veterinarian asks what they think. An equine vet tech can’t make a diagnosis, interpret lab results, or carry out duties that are prohibited by the laws of the state in which they work.

Skills of an Equine Vet Tech

Anyone who works as a vet tech must have a genuine love for animals which means assisting with examinations; a vet tech must strive to provide a better quality of life for the animals in their care. Veterinarians are always trying to learn more about horses and the most effective ways of treating them. A vet tech can become more knowledgeable about horses by studying new procedures in equine medicine and reading medical journals.

Equine Vet Tech Education Requirements

An equine vet tech must have earned an associate degree from an accredited vet tech program and passed the VTNE before training to work with horses. An equine certification program is a requirement for a vet tech who wants to work exclusively with horses. Specialized equine certification can be completed in one to two years.

Where Do Equine Vet Techs Work?

Most equine vet techs work at animal hospitals, but many veterinary technicians travel with a veterinarian to farms and ranches to provide wellness examinations and specialty care for horses. Another option for equine vet techs is to work on farms that breed horses.

When a horse is about to give birth, the veterinary technician must prepare a sterile area in the stable or barn. Sports facilities like steeplechase courses and horseracing tracks have veterinarians and vet techs on staff for examinations and to assist with injuries during races.

Want to Learn More?

Did learning about the animals a vet tech works with interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an Associate Degree in Veterinary Technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.

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