Veterinary nurses save animals’ lives (and this surgeon’s, too!)

Veterinary Assistants And DogI can’t even imagine what veterinary practice would be like without our veterinary nurses. Actually, I can: Pure chaos.

I’ve long referred to them as veterinary nurses because I think it’s a better description of the role they play in animal health practice than the current official “veterinary technician.” It turns out I was just ahead of the curve, because the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) has officially come out in favor of a national program for registered veterinary nurses, RVNs, to replace “technician.”

Whatever you call them, without a shadow of a doubt they are the main reason I am able to do what I do. They are lifesavers — and not just pets’ lives, but vets’ lives, too!

If your pet is one of my surgical patients, or if you’ve been to any vet recently, I want you to consider this:

  • A nurse started the consultation
  • A nurse admitted your pet for tests or surgery
  • A nurse drew and analyzed blood work
  • A nurse took x-rays
  • A nurse provided sedation, anesthesia, and pain relief
  • A nurse monitored anesthesia
  • A nurse assisted in surgery
  • A nurse cleaned surgical instruments
  • A nurse fed your pet
  • A nurse changed your pet’s bedding
  • A nurse applied a bandage and managed wound care
  • A nurse discharged your pet after surgery

In fact, a veterinary nurse did so many things it would take two pages to list them all. I routinely see nurses hand-feed finicky patients, carry them around (granted, more often with cute fur balls than 80 pound Labs), pet and spoil the patients, give them kisses, talk to them in a funny voice, and more.

Did you know all that was happening behind the scenes? How about these real-life examples from the work of the best tech I work with?

  • She buys a fast food meal with her own money and feeds it to dogs who are going to be euthanized (with the owner’s permission), saying, “They might as well go over the rainbow bridge with a stomach full of junk food!”
  • She runs has her own mini-rescue organization
  • She’s been known to pay for veterinary care a pet’s owners can’t afford

It’s National Veterinary Technician Week, so if you happen to be at a vet clinic, or if you are particularly grateful to a nurse or a group of nurses, this week would be a great time to express your gratitude!



Fatty spleen removed from blue-eyed beauty

Storm Karkanica 11yF Husky - Spleen myelolipoma - Face - PZ 2015

Can you believe these beautiful eyes?

Storm is an 11 year old female Husky who went to her veterinarian because she wasn’t acting like herself. The referring veterinarian felt a mass in her belly during her physical exam.

We performed a spleen removal at Brunswick Veterinary Hospital.

Fortunately, the mass was benign (spleen myelolipoma). It was just a fatty tumor in the spleen! For comparison, the coin at the top of the picture is a quarter.Storm Karkanica 11yF Husky - Spleen myelolipoma - PZ 2015

Surgery helps rescue dog’s bladder stop leaking

Rosie Rosie, a very cute 7-month-old American Bulldog, was probably abandoned because she couldn’t stop her bladder from overflowing. After she was rescued, her new family knew what she needed was veterinary care, so they brought her to North Penn Animal Hospital.

Not all urinary incontinence requires surgery to control, but Rosie’s definitely did. She had a condition known as ectopic ureters, where the tubes that carry urine from the bladder are mis-routed, causing urinary leaking and other symptoms.

Fortunately, we were able to reconstruct her ureters, and now, instead of leaking constantly, she’s dry and healthy and looking at a happy new life!

Rosie Bladder

Also of interest:

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Take advantage of Pet Dental Health Month

February is Pet Dental Health Month. This could be a great opportunity for your pet to get a good dental cleaning, and possibly for you to get a nice discount.

How do you know if your pet needs a dental cleaning?

  • If your pet has bad breath
  • If your pet drools or seems to have difficulty chewing
  • If you see brown tartar on the teeth (see the picture below for an extreme example)
BEFORE cleaning - severe tartar

“BEFORE cleaning – severe tartar”


Feline fibrosarcoma in the cheek: A surgical story

When 9-year-old Daphne came to me at Berks Animal Emergency & Referral Center for a mass in her left cheek, the biopsy results told the story cat owners least want to hear: Cancer, specifically, fibrosarcoma. Continue…