What No One Tells You About Being A Vet

Puppy vet exam

Being a veterinarian is among the most popular and idealised career choices there are. Almost everyone loves animals, and many people see helping them as one of, if not the most, worthwhile ways to spend your working life. While it’s certainly a noble vocation, there are a lot of things about being a vet that you generally don’t hear about. Here are just a handful…

People Make Up Just as Much of the Job as Animals

Vet ophthalmology exam
Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/armymedicine/7096472197

Obviously as a vet, the purpose of your job and a lot of your time is going to be centred around animals. However, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of humans in this role as well. It’s the pet owners who ultimately have to choose between different courses of treatment depending on their budget, and the limit of what you can actually do. After that, there’s a lot of staff you’ll have to deal with on a regular basis, such as the receptionists, technicians, and the odd specialists from other clinics. By the time you’re learning how to start your own vet clinic, you’ll have to have as many people skills as any other kind of business owner. You may be a great scientist when it comes to the application of everything you learned at vet school, but if you want to make a career out of it, you need to be a people person at times.

Some Animals Will Be Hard to Handle

Vet behaviour MedicineYour average vet will work on cats on a daily basis, and maybe the odd dog, that’s very aggressive and does not like to be handled. Little dogs and cats aren’t exactly as intimidating as the exotic pets some people will own, as they’re fairly easy to control and sedate if necessary. Here and there though, you’ll have to handle an 100-pound dog who isn’t used to your scent, and may hate everything about the strange environment it’s found itself in. You’re going to have a tough job handling some pets, but it’s important to understand that by and large, these pets are acting out due to fear, rather than any kind of inherent aggression or behavioural issues. Vets need to be able to understand the animal’s perspective, and go out of their way to soothe their nerves.

Even if Your Hours Are Fine, It’s Exhausting!

Vets finish late nearly everydayThe vets out there who clock in at 9 in the morning and leave at 5 in the evening are a lucky minority. However, even the veterinarians with these kinds of hours have a very emotionally draining day to get through. More or less from the start of their day, you’re going to be seeing appointments, some of which might entail giving pet owners some very bad news. When you’re not in appointments, you’ll likely be fielding phone call after phone call, or chewing through a mountain of paperwork. It’s important to remember that each and every one of these pet owners will love their pet, and have different concerns, and you’ll need to stay engaged through every appointment.

Pet Birthday Parties: The Ultimate Guide

They are a valued member of your family and the centre of your world so they deserve to have their birthday celebrated too! If your pup, bunny or kitten is celebrating their birthday soon, why not throw a party and make an occasion of it? You may end up enjoying it as much as they do!

Guest lists and invitations

The guest list will very much depend on the type of pet that is celebrating their birthday. Cats do not always like being transported around and smaller mammals can get stressed during car journeys so it is best to limit the guest list to humans!

Dogs, however, are an entirely different matter. They may already have some good buddies that they meet up with in the local park and they have to be top of the list. Then just make up the numbers with some B-list humans who will not be anywhere near as much fun!

It is easy and fun to make up your own invitations using a picture of your pet and perhaps sign it with a paw print. Be clear about the time and the venue. You do not have to hold a party for your pup in your own house. You could meet up in a local park first and then head back to your place.

Decorate your house

The only limit here is your imagination. For dogs, it is fun to cut out paper bones or lamp-posts and hang them from your ceiling or from trees in your garden. For cats, you could use fish shapes and paw prints. Draw some paw prints in chalk on outdoor paths etc.

Some dogs love to dress up and they could have a special new outfit. What about a tuxedo or tutu? For those canines who are a little more refined in their tastes, you may want to choose a new collar. A collar is definitely the limit for cats as they are not keen on dressing up.

Gifts for the birthday girl or boy

Who doesn’t love a birthday gift? Dogs are probably the easiest to buy for and a strong toy is a popular choice but how long will it last? Can Indestructible Dog Toys Really Be So Tough and Durable? You will soon find out! What about an outing or an experience? A trip to their favourite beach or a camping trip would be their ideal weekend break.

For cats, a toy is a good choice as are blankets, cushions, and beds. Some lovely new bowls always go down well. You can’t go wrong with some healthy treats.

For small mammals, such as rabbits and guinea pigs, you are a little more limited but new bowls or even a new hutch is a good idea if you have a big budget. There are plenty of delicious treats out there too. As for toys, a rabbit will be kept amused for hours with a willow ball or a willow grass hut. You can’t go wrong with a toy that you can eat!

Four Tips To Help Out Any Newly Qualified Vet

Being a vet is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. Of course, no one goes into it if they don’t love animals, which means that it’s also one of the most rewarding jobs in the world – here are some tips to help you focus on the rewards more than the challenges.

Work On Your Faults
Even though qualifying makes you feel like you’re on top of the world, it’s important to remember that you’re still not perfect – there will always be things you’re great at and things you’re maybe not so great at, and being able to identify what those are is a sign of important emotional maturity that you’re going to need to be successful in your career. If you’re great at the scientific part of being a vet but you’re not so fantastic at talking to the animals’ owners and you could sometimes be more sensitive, be aware of that and work on it. Likewise, if you’re calm and quick on your feet but you’re aware that you need to keep reading and researching to keep all the knowledge you need in your head, it’s important to focus on that.


Use Technology To Get Organised
Thankfully, these days you have more to use to help keep yourself organised than a small paper diary and a head full of phone numbers. Look into different systems you can use to schedule appointments – for instance, dog grooming scheduling software can help you see what you’re supposed to be doing and at which times. Being organised is a great way to provide really top quality customer service – and you need to remember that being a vet is also about providing a business service as well as taking care of animals.


Keep Ahead Of The Latest Advances
In all areas of medicine, things keep changing constantly as new treatments are developed and scientific breakthroughs are made. That means that you need to stay ahead of the game – keep reading journals and keep talking to your colleagues at your practice and at others. Conferences are an important way to communicate with other veterinary professionals so that you can share tips and breakthroughs. One of the best ways to take the best possible care of the animals that have been entrusted to you is to make sure that you have an up to date knowledge of every treatment that’s available.


Balance Your Personal And Professional Lives
Finally, you need to work out how you can balance your personal and professional lives. Through your training you’ll be used to working long hours, but it’s important to remember that you can’t do that forever – you’ll end up burning out and your own health will suffer. It’s important to make sure that you take regular breaks and that you use your evenings when you’re not on call to see your friends, to go out on date nights with your partner, and to take some time for yourself – relax on the sofa with pizza and wine and Netflix and make sure that your batteries are completely recharged.

The last class…

Mom watching over my shoulder during treatment of the foal

It feels like forever ago that I was excited for my first day of vet school (you can read about it here) and what a feeling it was. I’m a little nostalgic as I read over my diary as I was so much younger and way more naïve back then.

It is the opposite today though, I am coming towards the end of my time as a vet student and that is scary. Today was my last ever class as a vet student so I am going finish as I started.

My last block of vet school is equine, and today was rescheduled from one of the earlier bank holidays this month. The class today was the examination of the distal limb of the horse.

We started with nerve blocks and the anatomical location of the nerves and where to inject the local anaesthetic to block the nerve. This can be used as a very useful tool to identify where a problem is in a horses leg as when you block the pain the lameness will decrease or vanish completely. This allows you to start with nerve blocks lower down moving higher up until you get rid of the lameness and tells you where to focus the rest of the exam whether that is radiography, ultrasound or arthroscopy.

After this we moved to dissection of the leg, looking at all of the important structures and how they connect together with the muscles tendons and ligaments. The equine leg is pretty impressive with how much strength it has and how fast it can move. This is largely due to the structure of the tendons which act almost as springs when they are loaded with a force.

The class finished with a live horse to do ultrasound of the tendons within the leg. This is one of the most common exams in horses and one of the easiest ways to look for problems with the tendons. It is possible to see many of the structures of the leg on the ultrasound machine and for any injury to the tendon is an extremely accurate way to determine the degree of damage.

It was a great last class, which combined theory with practice.

Planning to Travel? Why Not Take Your Dog With You?

Travelling is a wonderful thing. We get to explore the world, relax and spend some quality time with friends and family. Sadly, if we’re invested in our dog, then it can be fairly stressful trying to find the right care for them and we can’t sleep properly at night knowing that our dog is lonely and probably misses us. However, there’s a simple solution that not enough people think about when they want to travel: take your dog with you!

Plan ahead if you want to take your dog

Much like any holiday, it’s important that you plan ahead before you take your dog abroad or on a trip with you. You can’t exactly book a trip and then leash your dog and bring them on the plane with you. There are rules for taking pets with you depending on the country you’re visiting, so it’s a good idea to do a quick Google search on animal rules when entering a country.

Prepare the right equipment

Planning ahead also means preparing the right equipment and even vaccines. For instance, if you don’t see yourself leashing your dog everywhere because there might be large crowds, then find the best backpack carrier for your dog and carry them on your back instead. This obviously doesn’t work if you have a larger dog, but there may be rules that forbid you to take large dogs as well.


Then you need to think about vaccinations. All dogs have to be vaccinated against rabies before travelling to certain countries. There are rules and regulations to this but you have to take this step very seriously. They may even need a blood sample before the vaccination and there can be lengthy waits. Another step you’ll need to think about is getting a microchip installed. This is usually used for identification purposes and should be done before the vaccination step.


Consider a carrier

Many people prefer to let their dogs travel in a carrier in the cargo area. This requires a bit of planning too because not every carrier is suited for air travel. All carriers that are suitable for cargo will be labelled as being airline approved, but always consult the seller before you invest in one. This may also add some additional costs to your travel fees, so ensure you can afford it financially.

Food and drink

While travelling, ensure that your dog has constant access to food and drink. You want to try and feed them as early as possible on the day of travel so that they’re less likely to get hungry or thirsty throughout the day. While on holiday, you might not find your dog’s preferred food, so make sure to carry some extra in your luggage and ensure that you have enough supply for the entire duration of your trip. Water usually isn’t an issue, but ensure that your dog has a water bowl to drink from while they are travelling as well, especially if it’s in the cargo of a plane.

Stuck in a tree…

Fire brigade saves bird in tree

Sometimes you get to see stuff that you would never imagine possible, and today I turned up to the surgery clinic to find the entire staff waiting outside. Now it was a beautiful sunny day, however this did not explain the two falconry club members sitting with them with only a single bird but two gloves.

Asking what was going on, the doctor pointed at the tree where in a branch 20ft or so from the ground was a shape moving. Now I’d just set my contact lenses to my eyes so my vision wasn’t great as they had yet to settle however being a tree I assumed it was a cat that had escaped being a vet school and all. This led to great laughter when I was informed none too kindly that it was in fact a bird.

A bird stuck in a tree?

My first question was why it couldn’t just fly down as it obviously flew up there…

And then the fire brigade arrived with flashing blue lights and an aerial platform. My day was made totally and completely. The fire service – “Hasici” in Slovak – had arrived to save a bird from a tree. I really couldn’t make it up if I tried.

So with some quick manoeuvring of the platform to the ground to allow one of the students on (tied into a harness) they raised the platform to the tree to save the bird and in a blink it was all over with the bird safely on the ground the fire brigade left.

Vet student rescues bird from tree with Slovak fire brigade

Apparently there are special jesses (strings for the legs of falcons) that should be used when flying them that had been neglected. Because of this the normal jesses had got tangled into the branch of the tree and so the bird needed to be rescued. So as I learnt something about falconry I guess this counts as part of my veterinary education.

The Slovak fire service were awesome with how fast they responded, how happy they were to help and how much more interesting they made my day.

Moral of the story though, is that flight jesses exist for a reason.