At any time that you have taken one of your pets along to the vet for treatment of some sort, you have probably noticed a range of support staff working alongside of the veterinary surgeons within the practice, assisting the vets and making sure that everything runs smoothly. Veterinary nurses are professional caregivers in much the same way that human nurses are, although the full range and remit of the duties that veterinary nurses undertake is much wider! In order to qualify as a veterinary nurse, any prospective student must spend at least three years (and often longer) studying at a veterinary nursing college or undertaking a BSc. Veterinary Nursing degree, as well as logging thousands of hours working and training in veterinary practices in a hands-on manner, while building up a portfolio of skills and experience.While the main role of the veterinary nurse within practices goes on behind the scenes, assisting the vet to restrain animals and administer treatments, as well as assisting with surgical procedures, anaesthetics and many other tasks, most veterinary practices also offer nurse clinics and pre-booked nurse appointments. Experienced veterinary nurses are available to you, just as your veterinary surgeon is, to help with a wide range of care and wellness issues with a variety of different pets.
If you call your local practice because you are not sure whether or not your pet needs to see the vet, you will often be offered the opportunity to speak to a veterinary nurse who can advise you and help you to make an informed decision.Similarly, if you have any concerns over your pet’s diet, care, behaviour or how and when they should be spayed, neutered or vaccinated, veterinary nurses can advise you, and generally this advice is offered for free as part of your pet’s overall care protocol and your ongoing relationship with the practice. You can also sometimes book an appointment with a veterinary nurse for minor conditions or routine treatments, and this is usually chargeable but at a much lower rate than a consultation with your vet would be.
If you are having a problem with your pet that doesn’t require the attention of a veterinary surgeon but nevertheless, requires some experienced and professional help, booking an appointment with a veterinary nurse might be a good option for you.Some of the routine and common issues that an appointment with a veterinary nurse can help with include:
As well as offering appointments with a veterinary nurse for a variety of different reasons, many veterinary practices also run veterinary nurse clinics, that operate either on a drop-in basis, by means of regular ongoing set appointments, or as a group endeavour with other pets and their owners present. Veterinary nurse clinics usually take place during the normal consult hours of the practice, although some of them may run outside of clinic hours depending on their purpose and duration.Attending a veterinary nurse clinic is often free of charge for clients of the practice, although it is not unusual for a nominal fee to be charged for some clinics in order to cover costs. Some of the potential clinics that may be offered by veterinary nurses in your local practice might include:
If your pet is deemed to be overweight to the point that it is or might potentially cause them further health problems, signing your pet up to the animal version of Weight Watchers is something that veterinary nurses can help with. Normally, the nurse will advise you on changing your pet’s diet and exercise, and arrange for them to attend the practice regularly (such as once a week or once a fortnight) to weigh them and discuss their progress.
Most practices offer a free initial health check with a veterinary nurse for new puppies and kittens, plus advice on feeding, worming and development.
Many practices also run regular puppy socialisation classes at the practice. These are sometimes held by dog trainers who use the practice’s facilities to run their classes, but are often performed by competent and experienced veterinary nurses.
Veterinary nurse clinics can help you to learn about how to care for your pet’s teeth, preventative dental treatment and how to clean your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Nurse clinics can also advise you on the best way to feed your pet to avoid dental problems from developing.
Once your pet reaches maturity, their health and feeding requirements will change. Nurse clinics can help you to assess the health and condition of your aging pet, plus provide advice on how to best help them enjoy their old age in good health and comfort.
Teaching pet owners to identify the signs of normal health and wellness in their pets is important, and veterinary nurse clinics can help to educate pet owners on the normal parameters of their pet’s health, plus how to identify if there is a problem.
Some practices will run special clinics to teach pet owners about basic first aid for pets, plus what to do in a veterinary emergency. These clinics are usually incredibly popular and often get booked up well in advance.
Contact your veterinary surgery directly to find out what veterinary nurses can do for you, and to find out if your practice runs any regular nurse clinics that may be interesting or helpful to you.