If you love animals and have you ever thought about a career as a veterinary assistant, the Veterinary Assistant Series may be perfect for you. Taught by a practicing veterinarian and college instructor, courses in the series will give you all the information you need to prepare for work as a veterinary assistant including the specific veterinary duties you are likely to face every day.
Learn the ins and outs of common procedures as you gain a better understanding of the reasoning behind decisions and recommendations made by veterinarians as well as the essentials facts of sound dog breeding so you can knowledgeably converse with clients. You'll also learn the practical skills you need to be a valuable veterinary assistant or educated pet owner through videos that demonstrate many procedures and techniques, as well as state-of-the-art interactive graphics. Upon completion of the courses in this series, you'll be able to apply for a job as a veterinary assistant with complete confidence.
Series bundles are not eligible for partial drops or refunds. Transfers to other open sessions of the same course are available. Please refer to your school for additional details regarding drops, transfers, and refunds on Series bundles.
How the course is taught
- Instructor-led online course
- 96 course hours
Become a Veterinary Assistant
History of Veterinary Practice and Dog and Cat Reproduction
This first lesson starts way back at the beginning and introduces how ancient veterinary medicine evolved into the modern-day practice that you're accustomed to. You will learn why a veterinary assistant is just as important to the success of the practice as the veterinarian.
Vaccinology for Dogs and Cats
In this lesson, you will learn how vaccines protect against disease. And just as important, you will learn why they sometimes fail. You will take a close look at how often vaccines should be given, why they may be ill-advised, and why vaccinosis is so controversial.
Parasites Infesting Pets and People
This lesson addresses the parasites that can infest both pets and people. You will see the worms that live in the intestines, and get acquainted with heartworm, a nasty guy that lives in the arteries. You will explore how parasites infect people, what they do, and how to prevent their invasion.
How to Pick the Best Food for Your Pet; Prescription Diets
Have you ever wondered how to pick the best food for your pet? This lesson will give you the tools to make the right decision, and how best to pass the information to your clients. You will also talk about the role of prescription diets in pet health.
Euthanasia: The Procedure, How to Help Clients, and Assisting Children With Pet Loss
This will certainly be the most emotional lesson in the entire course. The topic is euthanasia, and you will look at it from the perspectives of both the client and the hospital employee. You will explore the stages of grief that everyone goes through after a loss.
Workplace Safety and Veterinary Hospital Economics
In this lesson, you will learn why a veterinary hospital can be a dangerous place. You will see how X-rays, anesthetics, and certain drugs can harm you. You will finish this lesson with Economics 101, a glimpse into the cash flow of a typical veterinary hospital.
Pet First Aid and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation
Designed like a short course in human first aid, this lesson will help you cope with almost any veterinary emergency, and you will discuss ways that some emergencies can be prevented. There's even a segment on cardiopulmonary resuscitation for dogs and cats!
External Parasites of Pets, Including the Flea
What is the most important parasite affecting people's pets? If you answered the flea, you're right. In this lesson, you will learn all about this parasite. You will hear about other crawling parasites that also live on or in the skin (mange) and how they can be managed.
Confidentiality and Grievances, Client Communications, and Client Education
Did you know that as a hospital employee, any advice you give could end up in a lawsuit? You will find out how to handle these situations and, related to this, how to maintain client confidentiality. You will round off your study on client communications with an introduction to client education programs.
Medical Records and Prescriptions
As soon as you're hired as a veterinary assistant, you will be helping to prepare prescriptions. In this lesson, you will find out how to do this correctly. You will also learn about your role in keeping accurate medical records.
Alternative Therapies in Veterinary Medicine
In this lesson, you will learn all about alternative therapies that some veterinarians are applying in their practices, including acupuncture, homeopathy, herbs, and chiropractic care. You will also examine the plusses and minuses of each diet.
Behavior Counseling for Puppies and Kittens and Putting It All Together in a Health Plan
In the last lesson, you will take a close look at animal behavior. You will delve into how best to train puppies and kittens, and more importantly, how to share the information with your clients. At the end of the course, you will see how everything you've learned can be put together for a comprehensive health plan.
Become a Veterinary Assistant II: Canine Reproduction
Prebreeding Assessment and Management
In the first lesson, you'll learn how to select parents for your breeding program by using blood tests, radiographs, and physical examinations. You'll receive a primer on genetic disease and then learn all about management of the breeding pair, specifically vaccinations, deworming, and nutrition.
Female Reproductive Anatomy and Disorders
How well do you know the female dog's anatomy? Besides learning the difference between the uterus and the oviducts, you'll look at the physical abnormalities that plague the female dog. You'll also find out how to diagnose infections and how those infections can impact fertility.
Male Reproductive Anatomy and Disorders
In this lesson, you'll turn your attention to the male dog. He's a far more important contributor to the gene pool than the female. You'll delve into reproductive diseases that strike the male, such as cryptorchidism and Brucellosis, and conclude with a look at maladies such as testicular and prostatic disease that strike the geriatric male.
The Reproductive Cycle and When to Breed
When is the right time to breed a female dog? Though this is a simple question, the answer eludes many people. In this lesson, you'll examine the reproductive (estrous) cycle of the female. You'll discover myriad ways to pinpoint the most productive time to breed.
Natural Breeding and Artificial Insemination
In this lesson, you'll explore two methods of breeding—natural and artificial. You'll be able to tell when there are problems with natural mating. When you look at artificial insemination, you have to know how to collect and evaluate semen to ensure the male is fertile. This lesson will cover how to do that as well as techniques for insemination.
Reasons for Female Infertility: Uterine and Ovarian Disorders
By now, the female has been bred and you expect a pregnancy. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen every time. This lesson focuses on reasons for infertility in the female, such as pyometra and cystic endometrial hyperplasia.
Reasons for Female Infertility: Effects of Abnormal Estrous Cycles
You'll now turn your attention to the hormonal fluctuations that influence fertility. You'll examine silent heats, persistent estrus, and a variety of other abnormalities. You'll even go over a few problems with sexual behavior.
Reasons for Male Infertility
In this lesson, you'll review some of the important reasons for male infertility. You'll begin by finding out why the male may not want to mate, such as having arthritis in his spine. Next, you'll look at semen production and the negative effects of such things as prostate infections. You'll conclude the lesson with a review of a male reproductive examination.
Pregnancy Diagnosis and Care of the Pregnant Bitch
Assuming everything has gone right, you now have a pregnant dog and you have to take care of her. What should she be fed? Should she be vaccinated? What diseases could strike her during this time? You'll look at two specific examples you need to watch for—diabetes and pregnancy toxemia.
Whelping: Normal and Assisted (Including Cesarean)
It's time for puppies! In this lesson, you'll learn what to expect during whelping. You'll find out what's normal and when to suspect complications. Of course, the lesson wouldn't be complete without examining how to solve a whelping problem. You'll learn what you can do and how a caesarean is done.
Many people breathe a sigh of relief once the puppies are born, but for some dogs, this is when the problems really begin. This lesson's topic is postpartum disease. These diseases include mastitis, metritis, and hypocalcemia—a condition where the blood calcium drops to dangerous levels.
Neonatal Care: Birth to Six Months
This final lesson is all about puppies. You'll look at the importance of the first drink of milk. You'll find out how to evaluate if they're getting enough food, and what to do if they aren't. You'll also look at how to keep them warm so they aren't chilled. The lesson and course will conclude with an itinerary that shows you what to do for the first six months of a puppy's life.
Become a Veterinary Assistant III: Practical Skills
Basic Dog Restraints
You'll begin this course by learning about one of the basic duties of veterinary assistants—how to safely and securely hold animals. Proper restraint techniques are the keys to ensuring that you and the person performing a procedure are safe. In addition to learning those techniques, you'll find out how to assess a patient's body language, how to remove a dog from a cage, and how to use different equipment to control a patient.
Basic Restraint Techniques
You focused on dogs in the last lesson. In this lesson, you'll change the focus to cats. Their body language cues differ from a dog's, so how you handle them will change, too. You'll learn the "stretch," the "scruff," and the "kitty burrito" restraint techniques. Then, you'll examine how to restrain rabbits, birds, and other exotics.
Exams, Pilling, and Nails
Now it's time to learn how to put your new restraint skills to work. Nearly every day, a veterinary assistant will be asked to help restrain an animal for any number of reasons: blood collection, injections, and routine examinations to name a few. Other times, you'll have to conduct a physical exam, give medication, or trim nails. This lesson will provide you with videos as well as detailed, step-by-step instructions to help prepare you for these duties.
A blood test is a vital way for veterinarians to determine what's wrong with a patient. So taking blood samples and having a working knowledge of an animal's circulatory system is key for a veterinary assistant. After a review of the circulatory system, you'll look at the most common sites for taking blood—jugular, cephalic, and saphenous veins. Then, you'll take a look at the equipment you'll be using (needles, syringes, and blood collection tubes).
Now that you have a blood sample, what can you do with it? In this lesson, you'll learn about the tests you might help to perform and explore how veterinarians diagnose diseases. Though there are thousands of diseases, a few important ones are anemia, diabetes, kidney disease, and liver failure. You'll quickly learn the difference between white blood cells and chemistries and how to do a PCV and blood smear.
All fluids tell a story. In this lesson, you'll look at urine and how to take samples. You could just put a bowl under a dog, of course, but there other methods that will help ensure that the sample remains uncontaminated. You'll also look at the tests that you might help to perform on urine, and go over what duties you'll be responsible for.
In this lesson, you'll move into the surgical suite. Although the veterinarian will do the surgery itself, she won't be able to do it alone. You may be asked to clip and scrub a patient for surgery. Other responsibilities could include preparing surgical packs, knowing the names of the surgical instruments, and cleaning and sterilizing those instruments properly. You'll also have a front row seat to a life-saving surgery that was performed on a little dog.
While it's not the most glamorous of tasks, keeping anal sacs clear and anal glands healthy is a big part of basic health care for companion animals. You'll learn how to identify an impacted sac and two techniques you can use to remedy this condition. You'll also examine how to clean ears, administer medication, and provide a bath—all common responsibilities that you may be assigned as a veterinary assistant.
Gender, Age, and Dosage Calculations
Suppose someone brings you a little kitten and wants to know if it's a boy or a girl. Can you do it? In this lesson, you'll look at how to identify the gender of kittens, puppies, and bunnies, as well as how to tell their age. Knowing the age of a patient is important when figuring out how much medication to give, so there's also a segment on how to calculate doses of medication to help you figure out what and how much to give your patient.
Exam Room Skills (TPR)
Now you'll move into the exam room. Yes, assistants have to know how to set up the room, but they can also play an important role in preparing the patients before the veterinarian sees them. In this lesson you'll learn about TPR—temperature, pulse, and respiration. You'll also discuss how to take a patient history, what to look for while performing the TPR, and how to identify dehydration.
Radiology and Medical Terminology
Do you know metatarsals from metacarpals? How about ventral from dorsal? In this lesson, you'll get a crash course in medical terminology and how to use it when taking radiographs. You'll also learn how to read x-rays and why bones look white and lungs look dark. You'll discover how to train a dog so you can take a hip x-ray without sedation.
Injections, Vaccines, and Worms
In this last lesson, you'll take a closer look at how to give injections (including vaccines) and how to diagnose one of the most common ailments that afflicts cats and dogs: worms. You'll study collection techniques, proper equipment, what to look for in a sample, and how to identify different types of worms. Finally, the lesson wraps up with some memorable veterinary cases. Maybe they'll inspire you to become a veterinarian yourself!
Veterinary Medical Terminology
Ready, Set, Go
This lesson provides the basics of how medical terms are formed, analyzed, and defined.
Where, Why, and What?
This lesson provides terms used in everyday dialogue regarding animal body systems, positioning of animals, and relationships between body parts.
In this lesson, you'll learn medical terminology related to the skeletal and muscular systems. Clinical terms, diagnostic tests, pathology, and procedures for both systems are described.
Head to Toe and What's in a Name?
This lesson consists of common terms for landmarks on an animal's body, as well as terms used in the animal industry to describe males and females of selected species, terms for their young, and for groups of their species.
In this lesson, you'll learn about the anatomy of the digestive system. Clinical terms related to this system, diagnostic tests, pathology, and procedures for the digestive system are described.
Urinary and Cardiovascular Systems
This lesson explores the anatomy, clinical terms, diagnostic tests, pathology, and procedures of the urinary and cardiovascular systems. Clinical terms, diagnostic tests, pathology, and procedures for the urinary and cardiovascular systems are included.
The structures of the respiratory system and the breathing process are described in this lesson. Clinical terms, diagnostic tests, pathology, and procedures for the respiratory system are included.
Integumentary and Endocrine Systems
Veterinary medical terms related to the integumentary and endocrine systems are explored in this lesson. Clinical terms, diagnostic tests, pathology, and procedures for the integumentary and endocrine systems are included.
It's time to learn all about reproduction. The male and female reproductive systems, mating, pregnancy, and birth as well as diagnostic tests, pathology, and procedures of the reproductive system are the topics of this lesson.
Nervous System and Seeing and Hearing
This lesson covers the nervous system and the functions and structures of the eyes and ears. Clinical terms, diagnostic tests, pathology, and procedures for the nervous system and eyes and ears are included.
Hematologic, Lymphatic, Immunologic, and Oncological Terminology
Three systems are described in this lesson: the hematologic, lymphatic, and immune systems. The specialty of oncology is also described in this lesson. Clinical terms, diagnostic tests, pathology, and procedures for the hematologic, lymphatic, and systems as well as oncology terms are included.
Physical Exams, Drugs, and Dissection
Finally, this lesson relates to tests, procedures, and treatments used in the care of animals in the veterinary medical field.
Jeff Grognet has been a companion animal veterinarian for 25 years. He was a pioneer in the field of veterinary assistant teaching, developing his first course more than 18 years ago. Due to the success of his veterinary receptionist/assistant courses, he expanded his teaching into other high-demand areas including pet first aid and alternative medical therapies for companion animals. He practices at a veterinary hospital and contributes regularly to several magazines.
Dr. Janet Romich received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from the University of Wisconsin–River Falls, and her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and Master of Science degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Dr. Romich received the Wisconsin Veterinary Technician Association's Veterinarian of the Year Award for her work in teaching and mentoring veterinary technician students. She has authored the textbooks An Illustrated Guide to Veterinary Medical Terminology, Fundamentals of Pharmacology for Veterinary Technicians and Understanding Zoonotic Diseases; she also co-authored Veterinary Technician Dictionary.
There are no prerequisites to take this course besides an interest in responsible breeding practices that promote the health of breeding dogs and their puppies.
- This course can be taken on either a PC or Mac.
- PC: Windows 8 or later.
- Mac: macOS 10.6 or later.
- Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox is preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
- Adobe Acrobat Reader.
- Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.
- Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.
Instructional Material Requirements:
The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.