Tuesday, May 21, 2013

10 of the Coolest Things I've Done as a Vet Tech

Me and my all time favorite doggy patient.
If you didn't know already, I was a vet tech for 5 years before I started Pawsitively Pets. I do still consider myself a vet tech, although I'm currently not employed as one. It's what I went to college to do and I still believe that's where I will end up again one day.

Vet techs are like nurses, but only for pets and animals. We do all kinds of things! We are nurses, anesthesiologists, x-ray technicians, phlebotomists, laboratory technicians, dental hygienists, janitors, dog walkers, mentors, teachers,  surgical technicians, pharmacy technicians, receptionists, animal handlers and more all rolled into one job description! I'm sure I left something out, but you should get the idea.

I thought it would be neat to share some of the cool things I've done during my time as a vet tech. I realize that not everyone is going to think some of these things on the list are "neat", but people who work in the field of veterinary medicine have a certain type of appreciation for them that only we can understand...


1. Spay a Hamster

I worked at a practice that saw many types of animals, including hamsters. One dwarf hamster we were seeing was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and our exotic specialist told her people that we could try to spay her. It's not often that hamster people would say yes to something like this, but they did. And so we spayed her! And she lived through surgery. Amazing considering how tiny dwarf hamster are. 

Dwarf Hamster.
Photo via cdrussorusso

2. Meet ZZ Top's Vulture

A vulture came in one day to be seen. Apparently, it was a vulture that had gone on tour or been in the band ZZ Top's music videos. I can't remember all the details because I wasn't the assistant on the case. That's fine by me though, raptors sound a little intimidating. The vulture was 30+ years old, which I though was pretty cool. Not everyday that you meet a famous vulture. 

3. Handle Hyacinth Macaws

If you've ever seen a Hyacinth Macaw in person, you know just how majestic these birds are. They are the largest flying parrot species. These birds beaks are massive and very intimidating! Luckily, when I handled them I had already become very good with my bird restraint skills. They are still super strong though! 

Hyacinth Macaw.
Photo via Tambako the Jaguar

4. Open Heart Chest Compressions on a Great Dane

This is one of those things that I don't think some people will "get". Fortunately, I've only had to do this to one pet. It was a Great Dane that had some troubles during a surgical procedure. A team of doctors began some very intense CPR on the dog and when the dog's parents were reached, they gave us permission to do open heart chest compressions. 

If you don't know what that means, it's when open the thoracic cavity up and begin manually pumping the heart of the dog. The whole event was fascinating, and we were able to see some results from all of our efforts to save the dog. Unfortunately, the dog did not make it. That part, of course, is not so cool... 

5. Bring a Dog Back to Life 3 Times

Emergency medicine is exciting to vet techs - can't you tell? We had a little dog that was suffering from congestive heart failure. She began to decline and needed CPR. The clinic was extremely busy that day, but fortunately I was able to help revive her a total of 3 times during our CPR session. CPR is not something that is usually very effective, so it's always exciting when things like this happen. In the end, the dog did not make it. Another reminder of how ineffective CPR can be sometimes... 

6. Neuter a Snake

Snakes are not something that we typically neuter. In this case, however, the snake had been attacked by a family pet and the doctor felt it was necessary to remove his testicles because of the damage that had been done. The family agreed to begin the surgery. Let me just say that a snake's testicles are very... long... 

7. Handle a Swan

One of the last "coolest" things I got to do before I had my second daughter was go on a house call to see a mute swan. I was very pregnant... probably 8 months or so. I was kind of shocked to see just how large the swan was. I'm not sure what I expected, but I wasn't expecting a bird that was so big! It was almost as tall as me! 

Mute Swan.
Photo via thekeithhall

We needed to get the swan's blood to see if it was a boy or a girl. Remember - How to Sex Your Bird? Thankfully, there were two very strong men there to help us catch and restrain the swan. Things went very smoothly. I was in charge of restraining it's head and neck. 

8. Help Spay & Neuter Over 12 Rabbits in One Day

Our local animal shelter had recently acquired some rabbits and guinea pigs through a case of animal hoarding. They all needed to be spayed & neutered and the shelter elected to have the surgeries done at our clinic because of our exotic specialist veterinarians. 

At a typical veterinary clinic, 3-4 spays/neuters a day may be all that is done. In fact, that could be quite a few for some clinics. At animal shelters, they dish out spays and neuters like it's nothing. So that's a pretty big difference in the way things are done. It was quite an accomplishment to do 12 exotic spays and neuters in one day. 

We did a lot of extensive care before and after the surgeries that is extremely time consuming. I was in charge of all the prepping and post-operative care because I was pregnant and they wouldn't allow me to be in the surgery room due to anesthetic gases. It was quite a day to say the least! Very rewarding though. 

9. Learn How to Place a Urinary Catheter in a Male Dog

I love doing "technical" stuff and so when the opportunity arose for me to do this to a patient, I jumped at it. Our head technician guided me as I placed a urinary catheter in on of our male dog patients. He was very used to having this done and had had one in place for several weeks due to a tumor that was obstructing his urethra. 

10. Draw Blood from Lizards

Did you know that blood is drawn from a lizard's tail? Just check out the diagram below to see where the needle is inserted. I find it pretty interesting. I've got to draw blood from bearded dragons and iguanas before. Sometimes, I was unsuccessful but it's always fun to do the technical stuff and learn how to do new things. 

How to draw blood from a lizard's tail.


There are plenty of other "cool" things I've done and interesting stories I have. These are just some of the things that stick out in my head. Which one do you think is the "coolest"?

43 comments:

  1. Wow Ann that is an amazing array of species and treatments etc etc. Gosh a 30 year old vulture. The Hyacinth Macaw looks beautiful. Have a terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

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  2. I would ask for the snake ... but you still wrote the answer hahaha. I always honor the work of the Vet Techs. I'm grateful for all the things the Assistant of my Vet did for me. Have you got an autograph from the ZZ-Top Vulture?

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    1. Lol - no I didn't get the vultures autograph. I was headed off to lunch while they were trying to take his x-rays, so I didn't want to bother them ;)

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  3. Amazing! Great photos. Truthfully, I can't imagine doing any of those things:-)

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  4. Absolutely fascinating. I had to chuckle thinking of you talking about these things at a cocktail party. You'd gather a crowd that's for sure.

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    1. Thanks Lori. I try not to over talk about this stuff with people lol. Unless they are really interested. I find that most people I know just don't seem super interested :/

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  5. Wow, you've done a lot Ann! That's awesome! Love the photos :)

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  6. Good grief, that's some weird and fascinating stuff! Never a dull moment.

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  7. Those are pretty darn cool indeed!

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  8. I love the hyacinth macaw one! I got to hold one at a bird rescue. Knowing what their beaks are capable of, yet seeng how gentle makes it feel so amazing.

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    1. I find it rather scary lol! Unfortunately I mostly remember restraining them rather than "holding" them like nice and friendly birdies. :(

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  9. You really have done all kinds of interesting things. I love the vet techs at my vet clinic that I go to. They are the greatest. They are always such a big help. I imagine it would be such an interesting job.

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  10. Can imagine the conversation in your house! "What did you do today, dear?" "Oh I neutered a snake!" ;)

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  11. OMC! What a strange group of animals. TW was bestest friends with a vet tech until she moved to Baton Rouge. She used to give to advice for Chizzy and tell her how much the vets in our area were overcharging.

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    1. Yea, I worked for a vet who overcharged on some stuff imo. I also worked for one who undercharged.

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  12. How exciting Ann! I'm trying to visualize the spaying of the hamster and the neutering of the snake! I hope to never have to give cpr to a dog or animal for that but if I had to, I would. Such amazing things you've done to help animals. RIP the great dane :(

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    1. Thanks Bren. The Great Dane story was a very sad one. Especially because she was pretty young. I don't think much more than a year old :(

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  13. Wow! Those are a lot of cool things! It's really neat that you've gotten to work with so many exotic animals!

    Mom never did open heart compression, but she did get to help with open heart surgeries on pigs. That was pretty neat. And she knows what you mean about shelters doing so many spays and neuters; during kitten season they would sometimes do more than 30 kittens in one day!

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    1. That is so cool! I've never worked with pigs before. That's like the only animal we didn't see I think lol.

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  14. Holy moley! What a COOL job! So is it difficult to neuter rabbits? Because I have a two year old male that's humping my dogs like crazy, driving them nuts.

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    1. It's really easy to neuter a male rabbit. I can't guarantee that would fix your humping problem but it's supposed to help with aggression usually.

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  15. That is quite the interesting list. Actually, I never thought a snake had testicles. Hmmmm.

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  16. His eye's are amazing.. Wow, we never knew snakes had bits either..BOL..Make sure you pop by tomorrow xx0xx
    Mollie and Alfie

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    1. Yep they do! On the inside anyways. I will be stopping by for sure tomorrow!

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  17. That Hyacinth Macaw is gorgeous such a lovely colour, You can't say life was ever dull in your job.

    Sheba.

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  18. Wow, we never realized all the cool things a vet tech can get to do.

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  19. Those are some pretty cool things that you did indeed! Spaying a hamster?! I didn't think that was even possible because they are so small.

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    1. Definitely not something that was done on a regular basis. It was only recommended because the hamster had ovarian cancer.

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  20. Wow, fascinating. I could never do that job. I'm glad there are folks out there that do!

    Huh... snake testicles. Now there's something I never thought of before.

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  21. Wow Ann...those were amazing! You made me want to be a vet too :)

    Have you ever operated a an eggbound turtle?

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  22. Thanks :) I'm not an actual doctor though, but their assistant. We never operated on an eggbound turtle but we did see one once. We gave her some oxytocin and she laid her eggs a couple of hours later.

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  23. Wow - what a variety! Who would ever imagine that you'd see stuff like that?

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  24. Wow that's an interesting list,xx Speedy and Rachel

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  25. I know a couple of people who have had to have their hamsters spayed, usually because of pyometra. I am quite jealous of what you've been able to do though :)

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  26. Wow, that's interesting work! Neutering a snake gets my vote for being cool!

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  27. Very interesting. You sure saw a lot of different animals.

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  28. You had a lucky turtle then. I saw an operation on youtube once, it was scary.
    (I wanted to write this as a reply but it wont work in my mobile :( )

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    1. Most of the turtle surgeries we did were bite wound repairs or feeding tube placements. Nothing too crazy for a turtle I guess.

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    2. Oh and a leg amputation once too.

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  29. Wow! This is a pretty amazing list! I never thought of other pets needing to be spayed/neutered before.

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    1. Yep ^^ Some of the pets on this list are not spayed/neutered on a routine basis though. Only when problems arise, then surgery might be recommended.

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  30. Fantastic work Ann! You're one of a kind :)

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