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What’s It Like to Work in a Veterinary Hospital?

Published: May 5, 2021

If you love animals, working in a veterinary hospital may sound like a dream come true. As a Veterinary Assistant, you could! You’d be surrounded by your favorite four-legged friends and help them get through some ruff times. But will the picture in your head match the reality? What’s it really like to work in a veterinary hospital?

What’s the Difference Between a Veterinary Hospital and Clinic?

A veterinary hospital and a veterinary clinic are similar, but offer different services. A clinic provides basic wellness exams and check-ups, spay or neuter services, and medication supplies. But a vet hospital can do much more. Animals that need surgery, dental care, X-rays, or lab tests can receive those services at a hospital. Veterinary hospitals are usually open in the evenings, over the weekends, and even on holidays to provide emergency services or long-term care when needed.

A Day on the Job as a Veterinary Assistant

If you’re a Vet Assistant, you can expect your role to be similar whether you work at a clinic or at a hospital; it’s more about the intensity. Hospitals see more emergencies so activities will likely be at an amped up pace. But under the supervision of a veterinarian or a veterinary technician, you’ll provide basic care to the animals and assist the vet during exams or surgery. You’ll prepare exam rooms, sterilize equipment, and prep the animals for the procedure.

Before surgery or during an exam, you may be asked to hold or restrain the animal. Getting ready for surgery, you might need to bathe an animal and trim their nails, all the while keeping them calm. Afterward, you’ll clean the exam room and prep it for the next patient. And when it’s time for surgery, you might help out by keeping an animal warm with a heated blanket or hot water bottles. Did you know that hypothermia—an abnormally low body temperature—combined with anesthesia can cause major problems for an animal? After a procedure, you might also need to administer medication to the animals, and monitor them for any adverse effects or aggressive behavior. And if an emergency occurs, you might need to step in and provide first aid until a vet or vet tech arrives.

What You Need to Know about Veterinarian Assisting

Before you start your Veterinarian Assistant career, you should know:

Vet Assistants Work with All Types of Animals

Dogs and cats are among the most common patients in a veterinary hospital, so you can expect to see a lot of furry friends in the exam room. But hospitals care for all kinds of animals, so you may also care for birds, turtles, snakes, and hamsters. If you work in a rural area, you might also need to care for farm animals such as goats and horses.

The Job Can Get Both Messy and Physical

You can expect to get your hands dirty when you work with animals. You’ll have to clean up any messes they make. You’ll also have to clean kennels and exam rooms, and the animals themselves.

Being a Vet Assistant Can Get Emotional

Throughout the day, you’ll encounter animals that are sick, injured, or near death. As an animal lover, it can tug at your heartstrings. It can also make pet owners nervous or upset. After all, these are members of their families. That may make some pet owners more difficult to deal with. No matter what, you will need to remain professional and focus on the positive interactions. Work in a vet hospital can be very rewarding. You’ll get to comfort and care for animals and your work could even save the life of a precious pet.


If you’re ready to start your career at a veterinary hospital, contact Charter College today. We offer a Certificate in Veterinary Assistant that help you prepare in as few as 10 months. Call 888-200-9942 or fill out the form to learn more.