Love Your Vet Nurse (what vet nurses and technicians actually do)

It's nearly the end of vet nurse month. But why do vet nurses get a whole month when vets just get to single day?

Because vet nurses and vet techs, along with the other support staff in veterinary clinics, are generally the unsung heroes! Do you really know what vet nurses do?

Well, here's why they are so awesome!


To start off with, qualified veterinary nurses and technicians are just super passionate about their job, and are incredibly talented and clever individuals. Did you know that it takes at least two years of training to become a fully qualified nurse with there being really tough requirements to even get on the program in the first place.

Registered nurses and technicians also need to complete a certain number of hours of continued education every year throughout their career to make sure that they're fully up to date. Veterinary healthcare is developing at a rapid pace and ongoing training is vital to keep abreast of recent nursing developments, medical developments, and to be able to expand their skills. They do all this so that they're able to provide even better service to look after your dog or cat.

What Vet Nurses Do

But what do vet nurses actually do every day?

A quicker question to answer would be "what do nurses not do?"!

Carry out procedures

I'll start off by saying that vet nurses and vet tech are your pet’s anesthetist. They are the surgical assistant and may actually be carrying out minor procedures. Nurses are dental hygienists, they're phlebotomist's (collecting blood samples) and lab technicians.

Vet nurses do all of these jobs when in a human setting, each task would be carried out a specific individual. Qualified nurses have got a whole wealth of technical skills and know-how!

Medical treatment + monitoring

Vet nurses are also integral in a sick dog or cat’s medical management.

They'll set up intravenous fluids, carry out certain diagnostic tests as determined by your veterinarian, as well as administering specific treatments and medications.

Nurses are also irreplaceable when it comes to monitoring sickness, monitoring how well your pet is doing. It may be that your vet is only checking on your pet once or twice a day assuming that everything's going well. It's your pet’s vet nurse or vet tech who's monitoring them throughout the day to make sure that there's been no change in their condition that a vet needs to be made aware of.

They'll be tempting patients to eat and making sure they're getting the calorie requirements they need (that are often higher when an animal is sick). They'll provide company as well, helping to relieve stress and make a patient more comfortable and more relaxed in the hospital setting.

Vet nurses are also critical at making sure their patients are as comfortable and as free from pain as possible.

Keeping vets in line!

Another vet nurse job is (unfortunately) to sometimes chase up after the vet. To make sure that any patient reports are delivered promptly and check that lab tests are reported promptly and appropriately.

They'll also frequently tidy up and clean up after their vets (and some vets are worse than others when it comes to clearing up after themselves).

Owner education

Vet nurses and veterinary technicians do more than just work with animals. They also have a key role to play in owner education and service. They will often run puppy classes, weight clinics, and numerous other types of nurse consult programs. They will discuss feeding, parasite control, training and socialization.

Taking weight clinics as an example, obesity in dogs and cats is such a huge, growing issue, the impact of successful weight loss is hard to overstate. It may well be your nurse rather than your vet that has the biggest impact on your pet’s long term health if they manage to help them achieve their healthy body weight.

Nurses answer client queries at the front desk, they'll also follow up with clients to make sure they're happy and understand the treatment that's been prescribed.

Perhaps finally, nurses are absolutely passionate about animal health and animal welfare as a whole. They play a key role in educating the public as a whole about the needs of our pets, improving the health and well-being of more animals that their direct patients.

Nurses are critical for good veterinary care

With veterinary nurses and technicians doing all of these different jobs, you can see how absolutely critical they are when it comes to the veterinary team and provision of care your pet receives. As a vet, I know I simply couldn’t do my job without a good nursing team behind me!

It’s also important to mention the receptionist and other administrative staff as well. They really are on the front line, helping to triage patients the helping to calm down owners and support them in their time of need.

Veterinary nurses and technicians are often the unsung heroes of the veterinary team. They should be respected and recognized as such!

Next time your pet gets discharged after having surgery or after being ill, be sure to thank the nursing team just as much, if not more so, than you're thinking your vet. The nurses were absolutely critical in your pet's care.

I'd also love to hear from you about how has a particular nurse at your veterinary clinic has gone out of their way to help your pet recover. Leave me a comment below or let the world know how great they are on Facebook or Twitter (be sure to tag me too @ourpetshealth).

Our Pets Health: because they're family!