Dear Christopher Cat:
I know what the veterinarian does, but what about all the other people who care for my cats at the animal hospital? I hear so many terms, from veterinary nurse to technician to assistant, that I'm not clear on everyone's role.Christopher Cat responds:
National Veterinary Technician Week, from Friday to Oct. 21, is a good time to send cookies and a thank-you note to your veterinarian's support staff.
The veterinary technician has formal training and has passed national and state examinations to become a licensed professional. Training involves all nonhuman species, whether their skin is covered by fur, feathers or scales. Testing measures competency in medical and surgical nursing, anesthesiology, laboratory testing of all kinds, radiology, pharmacology and more.
The individual state that credentials the veterinary technician determines whether the terminology is Certified Veterinary Technician, Licensed Veterinary Technician, Licensed Veterinary Medical Technician or Registered Veterinary Technician.
A Veterinary Technician Specialist pursues additional education and passes examinations to specialize in one field, such as anesthesia and analgesia, behavior, dentistry, emergency and critical care, nutrition, ophthalmology, physical rehabilitation or surgery.
Many veterinary assistants have formal training and have passed exams to earn the title Approved Veterinary Assistant. Other assistants learn on the job. Regardless, veterinary assistants help the veterinarian and technician care for your pets.
The term veterinary nurse is sometimes used to encompass veterinary technicians and assistants. A movement is underway to change the term veterinary technician to Registered Veterinary Nurse.
Regardless of the confusing terminology, please remember to thank all those who take such good care of your cats.
°°°Dear Daisy Dog:
Please tell me it's not my imagination that Barkley, my 3-year-old dog, has a great deal of empathy for me. When my back hurts, he lays his head on my lap and licks my hands. Does he know when I'm hurting, or is it all in my head?Daisy responds:
Barkley senses your pain, and he's doing what he can to comfort you. Much research documents similar behaviors and explains why dogs make such good therapy animals.
In one study, for example, 75 pet dogs and 74 people listened to three sounds: a baby crying, a baby babbling and radio static. When levels of the stress hormone cortisol were measured, the dogs and humans reacted the same.
Cortisol levels shot up when the baby cried, but were normal at other times. Humans described the radio static as unpleasant, and the dogs flattened their ears and lowered their heads and tails, suggesting they felt the same.
In another study, 18 pet dogs heard three sounds made by a human family member and a stranger sitting 6 feet apart: crying, speaking and humming in a curiously unusual staccato cadence. The dogs ignored the speaking and humming but went to each person who cried, whether family member or stranger, and attempted to comfort them the way Barkley consoles you.
So thank Barkley for his concern, because he really does care.Ask the Vet's Pets appears Friday in the print edition of the Reading Eagle. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine. Contact them at www.askthevetspets.com