Veterinary medicine plays a vital role in ensuring that animal owners can be assured that their pets will receive excellent care. This is especially important considering the growing variety of animal breeds and types. With animals ranging from common dog breeds to purebred horses requiring specialized treatment, the veterinary field is more diverse than ever before.
One specialty all vet techs should consider is the care of large animals. With a growing number of equine owners in addition to the importance of the farming and production animal sector, large animal care is an extremely important part of the veterinary care field.
What Are the Duties of the Large Animal Vet Tech
Large animal vet techs specialize in handling large animals, such as horses, cows, commercial hogs, and more exotic animals.
While most of their duties are similar to those of other vet techs, the nature of the animals they work with requires a number of changes.
Among the more important differences in their duties and responsibilities are the following:
- Due to their size and strength, large animals can be extremely dangerous if they become panicked or hostile. Large animal vet techs are trained to effectively handle a large animal without endangering the animal or the attending staff.
- Many large animals must be handled in a specific manner in order to avoid the potential for injury. Vet tech specialists are trained in how to effectively position the animal during its treatment and examination in order to prevent any chance of injury.
- Large animals have specific dietary requirements that must be met by the vet tech.
- Many large animals require specific methods of administering drugs. The vet tech can both administer the medicine and observe the animal in order to evaluate the effects of the drug.
- Surgical procedures involving large animals require more assistance on the part of vet techs than procedures performed on smaller animals. Large animal vet techs specializing in surgery are thus vital to the successful completion of these operations.
Finally, a large animal vet tech must be observant and capable of effectively communicating with his or her supervisors, fellow vet techs and members of the public.
In many cases, the vet tech will conduct the initial interview upon the admission of an ill or injured animal to the practice. This often requires the vet tech to behave in a comforting and professional manner in the face of the animal’s distraught owners.
Becoming a Large Animal Vet Tech
All vet techs intending to specialize in large animal treatment must still obtain the regular certification that is required for vet techs in order to practice in most states.
Even in those states that do not require certification, the candidate would be well advised to obtain it, as many veterinary practices and organizations will not employ individuals who do not have some type of certification.
Obtaining a vet tech license or certification generally requires the following steps:
- Enter a veterinary technology program offered by an American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) accredited school. These programs normally take about two years to complete.
- Take the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) exam. This national exam evaluates the student’s practical and academic skills.
- Some states require applicants to take and pass a jurisprudence examination in order to demonstrate their understanding of how state law interacts with the duties of the vet tech.
- After completing these steps, obtain a certification or license from the state or private certification authority.
In most cases, specializing in large animal veterinary technology does not require additional certification. The vet tech will simply seek employment with a practice that handles large animals and obtain training in how to work with them from the supervising veterinarian. Additionally, his or her continuing education (CE) hours should be focused on large animal care.
The Equine Care Specialty
The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) currently recognizes the American Association of Equine Veterinary Technicians and Assistants (AAEVT). Large animal vet techs interested in specializing in this field can obtain an online certification in equine care. While this does not currently fulfill any mandatory requirements for vet tech certification, possession of the AAEVT certificate can improve the vet tech’s professional and salary options in the equine care field.
Employment Prospects for Large Animal Veterinary Technicians
There are a wide range of potential career paths for vet techs specializing in large animal care. Among the most common are the following:
- Equine care is an important field in many rural and suburban areas where horse ownership is popular.
- Ranches have a growing need for large animal veterinary care to ensure that their livestock is both healthy and comfortable. This is especially important due to the growing emphasis on ensuring that all production animals and livestock are treated humanely.
- Many zoos and wildlife parks require vet techs who can handle large animals. In some cases, they may also require that the vet tech have additional training in treating exotic animal breeds.
Becoming a vet tech specializing in large animals opens up an exciting and secure professional career. In addition to being financially rewarding, a vet tech specializing in large animal care will be held in high esteem by his or her coworkers and the general public alike. This makes this specialty attractive for new and experienced vet techs alike.