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Veterinary assistants help the veterinarian and other staff members maintain the veterinary clinic. In general, they provide semi-skilled labor and are not certificated or licensed veterinary care workers. While the Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine regulations place limits on the type of work they can perform, it also makes it possible for individuals to become veterinary assistants without having to complete a course of formal study.

In general, veterinary assistants provide the following services:

  • Regularly clean the veterinary facility, ensuring that it remains in a sanitary and attractive condition.

  • Clean and sterilize the animal enclosures in order to prevent the spread of communicable diseases and provide a pleasant living environment for the clinic’s patients.

  • An important part of their duties is maintaining the practice’s veterinary equipment in a sterile condition. This is extremely important in order to prevent postoperative infections.

  • Feed and water all animals that are currently under their care, ensuring that the dietary instructions provided by the veterinarian are followed.

  • Exercise and walk the animals. This can be an especially important duty for vet assistants that work at a practice specializing in the treatment of equines.

  • Take blood, urine and other samples to provide to the veterinarian for later testing.

  • Perform some tests, such as x-rays, under the supervision of other veterinary personnel.

  • Administer any medications that the veterinarian has prescribed.

In Virginia, veterinary assistants may not perform any of the following services:

  • Diagnose an animal’s illness or injury.

  • Independently evaluate tests.

  • Prescribe medication for an animal.

  • Conduct medical or surgical procedures on an animal.

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