Exotic animal medicine is an extremely exciting and rewarding field with the incredible variety of species and conditions that we are presented with making every day unique. A significant component of our day involves educating clients in the husbandry practices of a variety of species, and this is often the most crucial factor in the success or failure of a patient’s care and progress. Working with exotic species demands a lot of hands-on work which allows all of our staff to constantly hone their skills and acquire new ones. The species that we work with can vary greatly in terms of their size, anatomy, age, and tolerance of clinical care. The approaches that we take to handling wildlife vs pet poultry or tame vs domesticated species incorporates many elements that we have to consider for patient and staff safety.
While the following will be a slightly compressed set of examples of what all of our staff do at Lynwood Animal Hospital, it will give you an idea of the range of tasks we perform and their associated challenges.
Our veterinarians do a lot more behind the ‘scenes’ work than just seeing pets in appointments for their annual exams or for when they are sick. They will also be dealing with any hospitalized patients and calling owners with updates. They check lab work results, and interpret both radiograph and ultrasound imagines, deciding on the best course of action for a pet, discuss with the owner the options available and prescribe medications as needed. They will also do a range of surgeries ranging from elective spays and dental extractions to more urgent surgeries such as with foreign bodies or pyometra surgery which is the removal of an infected uterus. They are also continually learning new treatments or protocols for all types of species as new research becomes available and new and improved techniques are shared.
A typical day for our assistants and registered veterinary technicians (RVT) begins with attending to any boarders, hospitalized patients, and our in-house clinic birds. They assess their appetite, urine/bowel movements, mentation, and prepare for the morning treatments which can involve assisted feedings. As many of our exotic patients are prey animals, or maybe intolerant of prolonged handling, our staff must set everything up in advance and communicate clearly to make sure they efficiently interact with them in the safest, least stressful way. This can mean more than one person assists with an assessment, cleaning of the enclosure, treatment, and any other procedures so that they are all done in a methodical, streamlined fashion. To limit stressors, sometimes the veterinarian and technician must do their assessments together.
Our RVTs will also have a variety of duties during the day. They can be seen assisting the veterinarian during their appointments which can involve coaching clients, demonstrating medications, and running tests. Other RVTs will be in charge of running in house lab work, taking care of in-hospital patients and technician appointments which can involve nail trims, vaccinations, weight checks and more. On surgery days we have one RVT in charge of surgery patients which involves checking their vitals before-hand, monitoring during anesthesia, and during recovery. As we often deal with many small exotics we will, in most cases, have a second RVT assisting and even one of our assistants.
While the vets and RVTs have many duties, they could not do it without the help of their assistants. Assistants have a variety of duties that contribute to the overall running of the clinic and they provide support in a variety of ways. Throughout the day they can be seen comforting patients in hospital, feeding patients, unpacking orders, answering phones, helping clients, cleaning up messes, dealing with mounds of laundry and more. They are multitasker for sure!
Let’s not forget our client service representatives! Without them, our day would be lost. They are the front line of the clinic and will be the first point of contact when you walk into the clinic. They can assist you with picking up food or prescriptions, scheduling appointments and helping you with questions. They will forward any medical questions to the appropriate staff as needed.
They ensure that our appointment rooms are ready to go and help us with the daily flow.
I hope this helped you give a brief insight into what it is that we do at Lynwood Animal Hospital. We hope to see you soon!