October 13th-19th is National Veterinary Technician Week. I want to dedicate this blog to all the veterinary technicians who dedicate their lives to saving animals. These gifted health care professionals are the wind beneath a veterinarian’s wings. We simply couldn’t do our jobs without them. Let me give you a peak into what veterinarian technicians do with the following story.
Last winter, I treated many, many puppies for parvovirus enteritis. The pups caught this life-threatening virus because their families either didn’t vaccinate them or purchased ineffective vaccines from the internet or feed store and gave them without veterinary supervision. Since there is no medicine to ‘cure’ the virus, infected pups are given supportive care until their own immune system can get rid of it. The virus destroys the cells lining the intestines of the pup as well as their bone marrow. This leads to severe vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. Sometimes the diarrhea is so bad it looks like dirty blood. To make matters worse, bacteria are able to enter the pup’s bloodstream through the damaged intestines. Without white blood cells which are made in the bone marrow, the bacteria infect the pup’s internal organs.
This is a terrible disease and caring for these patients requires intensive care. Sick puppies are isolated to prevent spread to other dogs. Gowns, gloves and shoe protectors are required to enter the isolation ward. Imagine how stressful this is to the sick puppy to be isolated away from their families while they fight for their lives. Stuck in the quarantine ward surrounded by beeping equipment, the pup would be all alone if it weren’t for a veterinary technician. He or she patiently cares for the pup by administering medicine, monitoring their lungs for signs of overhydration and cleans up the putrid diarrhea that would make most people queasy. Most important, the technician reassures the pup through a gentle voice and comforting touch. It’s the intangible factor that often makes the difference between life and death.
Please thank the veterinary technicians who care for your pet. From my perspective as a veterinarian, they are vital members of the healthcare team and quite often, the difference between a pet making it when the odds of survival are long.