A Trip to the Vet
Just like people, sometimes animals get sick or injured and need to see a doctor. A doctor that specializes in taking care of animals is called a veterinarian, or a vet for short.
Most vets work in clinical practices, meaning they work directly with animals. However, some vets work doing research, teaching or work for the government.
Dr. Jaime Buchanan is a veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic in Kingston, Ontario. Her job is to treat animals for diseases and injuries and to inform owners of how to prevent their animals from getting sick.
Doctor Buchanan says animals go to the vet most often because they are sick or injured. She says, “the most common problems are vomiting, diarrhea and skin problems. And some of the common injuries include: lameness (limping) and wounds or cuts.” She also says, like people, many animals have regular check-ups to make sure they are healthy. They have vaccinations, which are needles with medicine that help prevent diseases, flea treatments and de-worming.
However, unlike people, animals can’t tell someone when they aren’t feeling well. Doctor Buchanan says, “it can be very difficult to diagnose animals because they can’t tell you how they are feeling or where they are hurt.”
In order to figure out exactly what the problem is, she says the vet, “starts by taking a thorough history of the problem from the owner. They do a physical exam, checking the animal from head to tail. This includes looking at their teeth and gums, listening to their heart, taking their temperature and feeling their abdomen, among other things.” If the problem is not obvious, the vet may need to do further tests like blood work or X-rays to determine why the patient is sick.
Depending on what is wrong, treatment for the animal may include going home and taking medication, like pain pills or antibiotics. Or, if they are very sick, they may need to stay in the hospital and have an IV (intravenous fluids) and be closely watched to ensure the treatment is working.
Doctor Buchanan says some of the symptoms pet owners should watch out for are, “vomiting, diarrhea, breathing problems, skin and ear problems, and changes in water intake or urination.” She says if your animal is not eating or drinking or if they seem to have less energy than usual, call your veterinarian.
When you take your pet to the vet, Doctor Buchanan says you can expect to see “other animals and people in the clinic. You may also see the receptionist and veterinary technician in the waiting room. In the exam room, you can watch while your pet is examined. And you may even get to listen to the animals’ heart with the stethoscope or help hold and comfort your pet.”
The vet will explain everything step by step while they are completing your animals check-up, and Dr. Buchanan says don’t be afraid to ask questions because the Doctor will be more than happy to answer them.
If you love animals, maybe becoming a veterinarian would be your dream job!