What Do Vets Do in Their Jobs?

Veterinarians are doctors of veterinary medicine, diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries of animals. Veterinarians may choose the type of practice they wish to work in. Most veterinarians work in private or clinical practices primarily dealing with small animals such as dogs, cats, birds and reptiles, as well as other pets. Veterinarians in clinical practices will: diagnose animal health problems, treat and dress wounds and injuries, perform surgery, set fractures, vaccinate against diseases, advise owners about animal maintenance and breeding, and euthanize animals when necessary. Veterinarians work long hours and may need to be on call for night and weekend emergencies.

A smaller percentage of veterinarians work in private mixed and food animal veterinary practices. They may work with small and large animals or primarily with just large food animals such as pigs, sheep, goats, horses and cattle. On a typical day a veterinarian working with large animals, such as horses and cows, will: test for and vaccinate against diseases, provide preventive care to maintain the health of the animal, treat and dress wounds and injuries, set fractures, perform surgery, consult with farm/ranch owners on animal production, feeding and housing issues. These veterinarians will drive to farms and ranches to provide veterinary care. They will work outdoors in all kinds of weather and may have to treat animals and perform surgery in unsanitary conditions.

Other Jobs Performed by Veterinarians

Some veterinarians choose to work in nonclinical areas, such as research and public health fields. These vets work with physicians and scientists researching ways to prevent and treat human health issues as well as food safety and inspection.

Veterinarians may also work with zoos and aquariums. Aquarium jobs have very low turnover and zoo jobs usually use private practice veterinarians on a part time basis. This niche is one of the hardest to get into due to the popularity of the job.

Whether a veterinarian chooses a small or large animal practice, aspects of the job include working with animal owners, some of whom may be upset or difficult. All vets work with animals that are frightened or in pain and risk being bitten, scratched, or kicked. Most veterinarians are drawn to the job because of a love of animals and find it to be a very rewarding career.

Job Duties for Vet Techs

A veterinary technician does for a veterinarian what a nurse would do for a physician. Veterinary technicians and technologists perform a variety of procedures and tests on animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. Veterinary technicians work in private practices, animal hospitals, research facilities, zoos, and aquariums.

Veterinarian technicians working in a private practice perform various medical tests and treat diseases and medical conditions in animals. Along with these treatments they may expect to perform a diverse variety of tasks such as: give medications, insert IV catheters, draw blood, run lab tests, administer IV fluids, anesthesia induction, monitor recovering patients, surgical prep, assist doctor during surgery, clean, sterilize, and maintain all surgical instruments and equipment, provide dental care including ultrasonic cleaning and polishing, take radiographs, communicate with clients on patients including discharge instructions and care, dispense medications and restock drug and medical supplies.

Other Job Functions of Veterinary Techs

Veterinarian technicians and technologists may also work in a research facility under the supervision and guidance of veterinarians or physicians. Vet techs may expect to perform the following tasks in a research environment: record information on an animal's diet, weight, genealogy, food intake, medications and clinical signs of changes in the animals, administer medications, prepare samples for laboratory tests, sterilize instruments and equipment and provide postoperative care and treatment.

Becoming a veterinary technician will require a love of animals and a satisfaction from helping them. The work can be physically and emotionally demanding and on the job injuries are commonplace. You will need to be able to communicate well with the animal's owners and remain calm in chaotic situations. Most veterinary technicians work a full time 40 hour week and may be required to work some evenings and weekend shifts. Whether working in a private veterinary clinic, research laboratory or zoo, a vet tech career is full of excitement and rewarding challenges.