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Ask the Veterinarian/role of the veterinary technician


      I am seriously considering going to vet tech school and I have a few questions. First of all I am planning on using my vet tech degree to mainly volunteer for animal welfare organizations. One of the programs that I want to volunteer for are trap neuter release programs. However I would love to also volunteer for a wildlife rehabilitation center, and I was wondering if (in your experience) vet tech volunteers are needed in these facilities. I am not looking for a job in these centers so I would think that I would be able to find a volunteer position in these programs easily (with my credentials of course), but I am not sure.
      My second question is about a vet techs role in pet care. I am really interested in how similar the African wildcat is to the domestic cat, and how by learning about the wildcat we can improve the lives of the domestic cat (ex: cats need play in order to satisfy their hunting instincts). I have been researching this topic for a long time and I think that it is important that cat parents know about how these things are beneficial to their pet cat. Therefore, is it within a vet techs job description to give advice on how to make a cats life more advantageous (ex: need a scratching post, the types of toys that will benefit the animal)?

ANSWER: It all depends on what kind of role your future boss lets you have in their practice. For many years under one boss I was in charge of client education so I was right out in the front talking to our clients, selling them food, helping them decide on flea control etc.

My boss retired and a new vet took over the practice and she wouldn't allow me to discuss client care, so I was pretty much in the back all of the time.

Volunteering is a wonderful thing to do.
Even though domestic cats might have come from wild stock a million years ago, and their needs are similar to a wild cats (both are obligate carnivores) their care does differ quite a bit.

It would benefit you more to study up on the husbandry of domestic cats unless you want to become a zoo technician.

As far as wildlife facilities go, they always need volunteers. You won't necessarily be doing any medical work, as they have vets that do that.

Good luck and enjoy your time learning. Let me know how you feel.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much for answering my questions! However I have a one more if you don't mind. Even if I am not going to be necessarily doing medical stuff in a wildlife facility, will it still be beneficial to help these animals if I am a vet tech? Thanks again!

Of course it will!! Anything you can do will be helpful. It is very rewarding as well. I have done years of rehab and I never regretting it. My grown children still have memories of raising baby squirrels and opossums. We have rehabbed just about any kind of mountain animal except cougars.

So it's always helpful to have someone with a vet techs knowledge and caring to work with wildlife.

Have fun!!

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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