Vet nurses are elusive creatures often hiding out the back of the veterinary practice assisting vets, monitoring anaesthetics, and performing their varied duties. Amongst these duties, most practices offer clinics with their nurses. This enables them to see how your pet grows and changes, offering advice and calming worries.

They can often help with tasks such as clipping claws, which might be too much for an owner to manage, to giving advice on how to get your slightly chubby Labrador back to his sleek shape.

What is a vet nurse?

Veterinary nurses are qualified individuals that have completed set training to be able to be listed on the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons) Register of Veterinary Nurses. This Register allows nurses to be regulated and holds them to a high professional standard. This means you can be assured that all nurses working in practice are knowledgeable and will be happy to refer you on to a vet if necessary.

Nurses also have to complete a set time of CPD (continued professional development) in order to continue being placed on the register and ensure their knowledge is up to date. Nurses are able to inform a client on their pet’s conditions (for example weight loss, skin problems) and can advise on next steps (usually a consultation with a vet). But they must refer to a veterinary surgeon for a diagnosis. 

How can a nurse clinic help you? 

Nurse clinics can offer a variety of options for you and your furry friend. As they grow their needs can change and grow with you. 

Puppies and kittens

When your pet is small, a nurse can continue your pet’s vaccination course. Providing that they have had the preliminary vaccinations and a health check with a vet at that clinic beforehand. They can also continue to monitor their weight as they grow or insert a microchip. Along with providing advice or answering questions you may have about their development, behaviour, or daily needs. 

The teenage pet

Once they get to the age where neutering is an option, they can discuss all these options with you, benefits, risks, what to expect and what exactly is involved in this surgery. A pre-neutering check is often offered and can ease any worries you may have and check they are all ready for the operation ahead. 

During that operation, the nurse will be present. They will monitor the anaesthetic and provide aftercare, including advice and support for when your pet heads home. After neutering it is advised for the team to see the patient back again to check the surgical site is healing well (usually twice before the pet can return to life as normal). Often the nurse sees them back for either both or the second check-up.

This is often recommended, not just to see how the surgical site is healing, but also to ensure your pet has a positive interaction at the vets after having such a major procedure. A positive relationship between your pet and your chosen veterinary practice is vital and so leaving on a positive note is always very important. 

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Weight watching

After neutering it is important to monitor your pet’s weight. Once neutered, it can lead to a shift in your pets’ metabolism and result in them putting on weight a lot more easily than before… Although this is not a problem unique to the neutered! Most veterinary clinics offer consultations with the nurse to monitor the weight and offer advice if they do gain more than they need. This is also another opportunity to make the veterinary clinic a positive place as often pets only visit the vet for annual vaccinations which can be daunting for some pets. 

The poorly pet

They can also perform other more in-depth clinics and give advice on managing a variety of conditions such as diabetes from home. 

The older pet

As your pet ages a variety of nurse clinics can be offered as an option for your pet. Nurses can check your pets blood pressure and report the results to a vet. Clip your pets’ claws, express their anal glands, check your pets’ teeth, and perform post-operative checks after a variety of operations. 

A nurse vet can advise you on how to look after a senior citizen. This might include managing arthritis, diet changes, what to expect as they age and how you can make your pet’s golden years more comfortable. Any point where a nurse feels that a vet should be involved, they work as a team in order to manage and help your pet’s condition.

What can’t a nurse do?

Despite the extensive list above, a nurse cannot diagnose a condition, interpret results, or prescribe medication. All of this will have to be delegated to a veterinary surgeon.

Often they will work together. So for example, if a vet diagnoses a dog with arthritis, they will prescribe a medication to help ease the inflammation of the joints and a nurse can advise on how best to manage the condition. Or monitoring the weight of the dog, how to manage exercise and diet, and modifications of the home to make it easier for the dog to get around. 

The majority of vets and nurses work together as a team ensuring the best outcome for your pet. A lot of practices can offer a variety of nurse clinics as mentioned above ensuring your pet gets the very best of care. Each nurse has their own interest and passion and will be able to offer a wealth of advice and refer onto a vet if necessary. Give them a call if you have any concerns and a nurse will be very pleased to see you! 

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