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ed2go Health and Fitness Veterinary Veterinary Assistant
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Veterinary Assistant

Do you love animals? Have you ever thought about a career as a veterinary assistant? Taught by a practicing veterinarian and college instructor, ed2go’s intensive program provides the information you need to become a productive member of a veterinary team. Our complete veterinary training is designed for people who want to work as veterinary assistants at veterinary hospitals and for those already employed in related positions.

If you’re looking for veterinary assistant schools near you, ed2go can help. Our online veterinary assistant training covers all the requirements that hospitals and veterinarians’ offices look for, and more. You'll learn about every aspect of veterinary assisting, including anatomy and physiology, animal restraint, laboratory sample collection, assisting in surgery and dentistry, prescription preparation, and taking radiographs.

You’ll also learn how to interact professionally with clients and gain the expertise you need to educate them about key topics in pet care, such as nutrition, vaccinations, and administering medication. The program concludes with a lesson to prepare you for the job market, in which you'll see how to create an effective resume, advance your expertise, and develop strong interview skills. With ed2go, you will truly learn everything you need to know to be successful in your new career.

6 Months / 225 Course Hrs
Open Enrollment

Offered in Partnership with your Preferred School

George Mason University Why this school? It's been chosen based on your location or if you've visited this school's website.

Financial Assistance Available*

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Learning Method

Instructor-led Self-Paced: Study at your own schedule

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Veterinary Assistant

Learning Method

Instructor-led Self-Paced: Study at your own schedule

Contact Us

Veterinary Assistant Reviews

Veterinary Assistant Details + Objective

Course Code: GES118

You Will Learn
  • The anatomy and physiology of the major organ systems.
  • How to handle medical records and communicate with clients and coworkers.
  • How to restrain animals for procedures, take vital signs, and bathe them.
  • All about nutrition, vaccinations, and administering medication.
  • How to assist during surgery and dental procedures.
  • Preparation of prescriptions and taking blood samples and radiographs.
How the course is taught
  • This online veterinary assistant school course is meant to be completed at your own pace.
  • You will be paired with an instructor who will answer your questions and provide feedback via email.
  • Your textbook is included in the course tuition and will be mailed to you upon enrollment.
  • Upon registering, you're given six months to complete the program.
How you will benefit
  • Upon passing this program, you’ll have the credentials and knowledge to be a valued team member in a veterinary hospital.
  • You will receive a certificate of completion that will show potential employers you have all the skills needed to be a veterinarian’s assistant.
  • You will be able to use your one-on-one facilitator as a professional reference.
Veterinary Assistant Outline
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The course contains the following modules:

Module 1: Getting Started

The first module will go over general information about this course. We will review the syllabus and go over the grading system and the types of assignments you’ll receive. We’ll also discuss the final exam and extensions.

Module 2: Welcome to the Veterinary Hospital

In this part of the course, you'll find out about all the different roles in a veterinary hospital, including the kennel assistant, technician or technologist, veterinarian, and office manager, and discover how a veterinary assistant fits into the team. We'll then take a tour of a veterinary hospital so you can see what goes on.

Module 3: Getting Ready for Your First Visit

This module will go over what to wear in the veterinary hospital, how to interact with clients, and the importance of confidentiality. You’ll learn how to protect yourself from hazards in the workplace. This section will also cover laws that regulate what each person can do in a veterinary hospital.

Module 4: Physiology and Anatomy 1: Directional Signs and the Skeletal System

In this section we'll go through the directional signs we use when talking about examining an animal, as well as the terms we use to talk about movement. Then we’ll take a closer look at the anatomy and physiology of bones.

Module 5: Physiology and Anatomy 2: The Nervous System, Endocrine System, and Muscles and Joints

Here we'll look at the anatomy of the brain, eyes, ears, and spinal cord, and discuss the diseases that affect this system. Then we'll explore the glands that produce hormones and take a closer look at muscles, joints, and the tendons and ligaments that hold them together.

Module 6: Physiology and Anatomy 3: The Circulatory and Respiratory Systems

This module will look at the cardiovascular system in general and the heart in particular, including how we can assess its health using Dopplers, ECGs, and radiographs. Next we’ll explore the lymphatic system, another important part of the circulatory system. Finally we’ll learn how air moves in and out of the body through the respiratory system.

Module 7: Physiology and Anatomy 4: The Digestive System, Urogenital System, Liver, and Spleen

This module will teach you the importance of the digestive and urogenital systems, such as how the kidneys function, how urine gets out of the body, and a lesson on male and female reproductive systems. We'll also discuss the function and diseases of the liver and spleen, including liver damage and tumors.

Module 8: Front Office Duties: Records, Confidentiality, and Client Relations

Confidentiality is a vital part of any medical profession. Here we’ll learn about organizing and allowing access to medical records, informed consent, and liability. You’ll learn intake, discharge, and billing procedures, as well as communication skills to help you with client relations.

Module 9: More Front Office Tips, and Determining Age and Gender of Kittens and Puppies

First you’ll learn more about how to speak to clients on the phone and how to handle complaints. Then our focus turns back to animals, as we learn how to determine the gender and ages of kittens, puppies, and rabbits.

Module 10: Canine Restraint

In this lesson, we're going to look at how to approach and hold an animal. You’ll learn how to look at dogs so you can predict what they're going to do. We’ll cover using lateral recumbency, muzzles, and chemicals for restraint.

Module 11: Feline and Exotic Restraint

Now you'll learn how to understand what a cat is telling you through its body language, as well as special holds and other ways to safely restrain cats. You’ll also learn techniques for holding rabbits, other small animals, and birds.

Module 12: The Physical Examination: Procedures, Restraint, and Vital Signs

In this module, you’ll learn different ways to hold an animal depending on the species and the examination being performed. We're also going to review all the steps in a physical examination, as well as how to take vital signs.

Module 13: Everyday Procedures for the Veterinary Assistant

Here you’ll learn tips and techniques to make nail trimming, clipper care, and bathing easier. We’ll also review the common procedure of anal sac expression. Finally, we’ll take a fun look at the most popular dog and cat breeds.

Module 14: Workplace Hazards and Infection Control

This lesson covers protecting yourself from chemical, anesthetic, and radiation hazards; disinfecting kennels and equipment and practicing infection control; and how to handle hazardous materials such as needles and outdated drugs.

Module 15: The Reproductive Cycle and Sterilization Procedures

In Module 15, we’ll first cover the basics of the reproductive cycle. Then we’ll move on to the benefits of sterilization, including the diseases males and females can suffer as a consequence of not being sterilized. Finally, we will review what happens during the surgery itself.

Module 16: Vaccinology

In this module we're going to look at the different types of vaccines and how they generate an immune response. Then we'll investigate the different diseases we vaccinate against and talk about how we determine a vaccination schedule. We'll finish off with how to administer vaccines.

Module 17: Nutrition Basics and Prescription Foods

In this lesson, we're going to look at the science behind feeding pets so you can give recommendations when clients ask for them. We’ll cover food analysis and ingredients, life stage requirements, how much to feed an animal, and prescription and homemade diets.

Module 18: Prescriptions: Preparing and Calculating Doses

Now we'll identify important things that you'll need to be aware of when you're filling prescriptions, including calculating dosages and performing inventory. We'll review important information you need to have before refilling a prescription, and why we don't dispense refills without an examination.

Module 19: Prescriptions: Types of Medications and What They Do

In this lesson, we take a closer look at the medications you will see in veterinary hospitals. We discuss the three classes of medications (over-the-counter, prescription, and controlled), the difference between generic and brand-name, the most common medicines and topicals, and human medications that are dangerous to pets.

Module 20: Giving Medications

Here we'll learn the basics of how best to administer medications to treat eye and skin conditions, heart problems, and arthritis. We'll look at cleaning the ears and applying ointments for ear disease, as well as administering antibiotics, insulin injections, and subcutaneous fluids.

Module 21: The Euthanasia Process

In this lesson, we are going to look at one of the most challenging topics in veterinary medicine: euthanasia. We’ll learn why it’s important and how it’s performed, as well as how to help clients handle the process. We’ll also learn how you can prevent euthanasia from taking an emotional toll on you.

Module 22: Taking Blood Samples

Module 22 covers the different types of veins, their locations, and discusses the best restraint methods to use when collecting blood. You'll also get acquainted with the equipment we need to collect blood, the different tubes we put blood in, and tips on how to collect a good blood sample.

Module 23: Interpreting Blood Tests and Handling Blood

This module discusses what different types of cells can tell us about animal disease, common blood tests and procedures that you may perform under the supervision of your veterinarian as well as the basics of handling blood. Then we will look at procedures for maintaining the laboratory supplies and files.

Module 24: Urine Collection, Handling, and Interpretation

In Module 24, we'll look at the different ways to collect urine including free-catch, catheterization, cystocentesis, and bladder expression. We'll also cover what to look at to perform a urinalysis such as color, specific gravity, test strips, and sediment. Finally, we’ll learn how to interpret urine tests and indicators for when to do more tests.

Module 25: Tests: Serology, Scrapings, Smears, Flotations, and Necropsies

In this lesson, we'll look at a few more of the many tests that we can do in a veterinary hospital, including serological, skin, and fecal tests, as well as culture and necropsy. As an assistant, you won't personally be performing these tests, but it is important to know the procedures.

Module 26: Radiographs and Personal Safety

Module 26 covers X-ray machine logistics and safety, plus radiograph procedures. You’ll learn how to determine the correct exposure for the radiograph based on the part of the body you are working with. We’ll go over radiographic films, digital radiographic units, and other imaging tools such as ultrasound.

Module 27: Radiographic Positioning

As a veterinary assistant, your role is to place the patient in the right position so that you can take a radiograph of the correct body part. Here you're going to see the radiographic positions for taking images of all the major bones as well as the chest and abdomen.

Module 28: Pain Recognition and Emergency Care

This module will teach you how to recognize and treat pain, shock, and allergic reactions; control bleeding; treat burns; perform CPR on a dog or cat, and create a first aid kit for people and pets. These are all emergency situations you might see at veterinary hospitals. Your role is to know what to do as a helper when they arise.

Module 29: Dentistry: Charting, Tooth Disease, and Dental Care

Preventing and treating oral disease has a tremendous impact on maintaining an animal's overall health. Here are the topics we'll cover in this lesson: teeth charting, tooth pathology, why tartar builds up and its effects, teeth cleaning and extractions, and client education on dental care.

Module 30: External Parasites: Fleas, Ticks, Mites, and More

In this lesson, we're going to investigate the pests that can make our patients' skin irritated, itchy, and sometimes even bald. We’ll discuss how pets pick up fleas, ticks, mites, and lice, and how you can control and eradicate them. We'll finish up by talking about something that's often mistaken for a parasite: the dreaded ringworm.

Module 31: Parasites of the Gastrointestinal Tract and Heart

Module 31 focuses on parasites that thrive in the intestines surrounded by digested food. We'll also talk about the worm that strikes the hearts of our four-legged friends and can rob the body of nutrients, cause intestinal inflammation and diarrhea, and trigger heart failure in our pets.

Module 32: Poisonings in Pets

As a veterinary assistant, you have plenty of opportunities to help prevent poisonings. We’ll look at substances toxic to pets, some obvious and others not so obvious. Then, just for fun, we’ll examine a host of internet scares that involve pets so you can untangle the myths from the truth.

Module 33: Surgery 1: Preparing the Patient

Module 33 goes over the pre-surgical process. We will review the different instruments you will encounter, how to get a patient ready for surgery (including pre-anesthetic assessment and administering anesthesia), and the different variations in suture materials, scalpels, and needles.

Module 34: Surgery 2: Your Role During and After

This module continues our exploration of the assistant's duties in and around the operating room. We’ll learn how to provide tools to the surgeon, monitor patients, administer post-surgery care, and clean instruments. You’ll also have a chance to observe an entire surgery through pictures.

Module 35: Understanding Animal Behavior

Watching an animal’s body language and changing our approach based on our observations is a critical part to a successful visit. We’ll learn how to reduce stress in dogs and cats by reading what they are saying with their bodies and reacting accordingly.

Module 36: The Job Search and Future Opportunities

It’s time to get excited about putting your newfound knowledge to use. This lesson will give you some tools that will help you on your job search, including preparing for interviews and future educational opportunities you might consider.

Veterinary Assistant Instructors
Jeff Grognet

Jeff Grognet has been a companion animal veterinarian for over 25 years. He is a pioneer in the field of veterinary assistant teaching, having developed his first course over 20 years ago. This progressed to four short courses and finally the development of this veterinary assistant program. Jeff practices with his wife at a veterinary hospital in British Columbia, Canada. He has published thousands of articles on animal health topics for newspapers and magazines.

Veterinary Assistant Requirements / Prerequisites

A high school diploma or equivalent is recommended but not essential.

This program is compatible with Windows, Mac, and a variety of browsers and browser versions. You will need Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader. You will need an Internet connection (high-speed is recommended) and email capability. 

Your tuition for this program includes this textbook:

  • Tasks for the Veterinary Assistant, by Paula Pattengale
More About Veterinary Assistant

During the ed2go Veterinary Assistant Program, you'll:

  • Learn about the duties of the veterinary assistant.
  • Study the major organ systems that you’ll need to know about as a veterinary assistant.
  • Master office communication skills and see how to handle medical records.
  • Learn how to determine the age and gender of animals.
  • Find out how to restrain animals seen at the hospital.
  • Discover how to take vital signs such as temperature, pulse, and respiration rate.
  • Learn how to trim nails, empty anal sacs, and properly bathe animals.
  • Identify the hazards you'll face in a veterinary hospital from anesthetics, infections, and X-rays.
  • Explore the reproductive cycles, diseases, and sterility procedures in cats and dogs.
  • Find out how vaccines work, when to give them, and how to administer them.
  • Learn the basics of feline and canine nutrition, including prescription foods.
  • Discover how to prepare prescriptions and understand the different drug classes.
  • Learn the different ways to administer medications—orally, in eyes and ears, and by injection.
  • Research the euthanasia process from the client's and hospital's perspectives.
  • Learn how to take blood samples and how to restrain for the procedure.
  • Find out what blood tests tell us, and see how to do a packed cell volume and blood smear.
  • Learn how to collect urine and perform a urinalysis, and understand what the results mean.
  • Explore diagnostic tests performed in the hospital on serum, skin, and feces.
  • Find out about radiation protection and how to position an animal for a radiograph.
  • Discover how to recognize and alleviate pain in animals.
  • Learn how to deal with common emergencies you'll see in a veterinary hospital.
  • Learn how to chart teeth, perform common dental procedures, and provide client education on dentistry.
  • Explore the life cycles, diagnosis, and treatment options for internal and external parasites.
  • Investigate substances that can poison pets and learn about emergency treatment.
  • Learn the names of surgical instruments and how to prepare surgical packs.
  • Understand how to a patient for surgery and help during and after the anesthetic.
  • Learn how to prepare an effective resume, advance your skills, and develop strong interview skills.
Veterinary Assistant Frequently Asked Questions
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Can I register for programs if I am an international student?

Yes, because ed2go programs are online you never have to actually travel to the school. Most schools offer telephone or online registration.

How long does it take to complete a program?

All of our programs are self-paced and open enrollment, so you can start them when you want and finish them at your own pace. Upon registering, you're given six months to complete this program.

Do I have to buy additional materials?

All the materials you'll need are included, and their cost will be covered by your tuition. ed2go will ship all materials ground service upon enrollment.

Can I get financial assistance?

ed2go courses are non-credit courses, so they do not qualify for federal aid. In some states, vocational rehab or workforce development boards will pay for qualified students to take our courses.

What happens when I complete the program?

Upon successful completion of the program, you will be awarded a certificate of completion from the school.

Am I guaranteed a job?

ed2go programs will provide you with the skills you need to obtain an entry-level position in most cases. We don't provide direct job placement services, but our facilitators and career counselors will help you build your resume and are available to give advice on finding your first job. Facilitators will also be available to use as a professional reference upon completion of the program. Potential students should always do research on the job market in their area before registering.

Who will be my instructor?

Each student is paired up with a facilitator for one-on-one interaction. The facilitator will be available (via e-mail) to answer any questions you may have and to provide feedback on your performance. All of our facilitators are successful working professionals in the fields in which they teach.

What software or hardware do I need in order to take online programs and what are the system requirements?

In order to take our online programs, you must have access to a computer and the Internet. You can access the program contents from any Web-enabled computer. You don't have to use the same computer to log-in to the program every time. We recommend that you have a word-processing program (Microsoft Word is best) and the latest version of Internet Explorer.

Can I use a Mac?

Yes, you can use a Mac for this program.

How can I get more information about the program?

If you have questions that are not answered on our website, please feel free to contact us via LIVE chat (click the button toward the top of the page). If you are visiting us during non-business hours, please feel free to send us a question using the "Contact Us" form to the right. You may also call us at (855) 534-3690. We will answer your questions promptly.

When can I start the program?

Our programs are all open enrollment. You can register and start the program as soon as you are ready.

Please note: Once the program curriculum is accessed online or through submission of a material shipment confirmation, refunds cannot be issued.

Does this program provide veterinary assistant certification?

The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America has a certification program that began in 2012. Currently, this requires attending a college that also has a veterinary technician certification program. Once NAVTA creates a way for online programs to lead to certification, we will be exploring this avenue.

Can I work at a veterinary hospital with the training from this program?

Yes. The duties that each member of the hospital can perform are regulated by the licensing board for that state or province. By taking this program, you will obtain a veterinary-specific skill set. This will put you far ahead of other applicants who haven’t shown the desire and ambition to take a program like this. This, along with your work ethic and personality are the factors that come into play in getting a position at a veterinary hospital.

Does this program prepare for any state licensure?

No, this program does not prepare for any state licensure. In addition, students will not participate in any fieldwork experience during the course of this program.

What if I don't have enough time to complete my program within the time frame provided?

The time allotted to complete your program has been calculated based on the number of hours for each program, so don't worry too much about not completing in time. If, after a concerted effort, you are still unable to complete, your Student Advisor will help you work out a suitable completion date. Please note that a fee may be charged for an extension.

What are the technical requirements for this course?

This program is compatible with Windows, Mac, and a variety of browsers and browser versions. You will need Adobe Flash (download here) and Adobe Acrobat Reader (download here). You will need an internet connection (high-speed is recommended) and email capability.

What materials do I need for this course?

Your tuition for this program includes the required textbook: Tasks for the Veterinary Assistant, by Paula Pattengale.

How do you become a veterinary assistant?

The typical career path for a veterinary assistant involves earning a high school diploma or GED (although this is not required), then enrolling in a certificate course to learn the specifics of the job. Upon earning a certificate, the graduate finds employment as a veterinary assistant. The Veterinary Assistant Program from ed2go is a great start; you’ll get a professional reference from your instructor that you may use to find a job.

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Talk to an admissions counselor
Got other questions? Get in touch with our admissions counselors via . During non-business hours, please feel free to send us a question using the "Contact Us" button. You can also reach us by phone at (855) 520-6806.