Large Animal or Equine Veterinary Assistant

a man in gray scrub suit holding stethoscope while typing on his laptop

A Large Animal or Equine Veterinary Assistant primarily works with large animals such as horses, cows, and other farm animals. Their responsibilities may differ from those of a small animal clinic veterinary assistant, as they are often involved in on-site care at farms, stables, or other locations. Here is an overview of the key aspects of the job.

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Roles and Responsibilities

Assisting with examinations and procedures

  1. Help with animal restraint during exams, treatments, or procedures.
  2. Prepare the exam room, ensuring necessary supplies and equipment are ready.
  3. Assist with sample collection, such as blood, urine, or fecal samples.
  4. Clean and sterilize instruments and equipment.

Animal care

  1. Feed, water, and care for animals under the supervision of the veterinarian or veterinary technician.
  2. Administer medications as directed by the veterinarian or veterinary technician.
  3. Monitor patients for any changes in health or behavior and report concerns.
  4. Assist with grooming or basic husbandry tasks such as hoof care.

Client communication

  1. Interact with clients professionally, gathering information about the patient’s history, concerns, or reason for the visit.
  2. Provide clients with information on topics such as preventative care, nutrition, or basic large animal care.
  3. Discuss treatment plans, medications, or follow-up care with clients, as directed by the veterinarian or veterinary technician.

Travel and fieldwork

  1. Accompany the veterinarian or veterinary technician to on-site visits at farms, stables, or other locations, assisting with exams, treatments, or procedures.
  2. Help transport equipment, supplies, or medications to and from the field.

Cleaning and maintenance

  1. Clean and sanitize work areas, equipment, and vehicles used for field visits.
  2. Dispose of waste materials properly, following safety guidelines and regulations.
  3. Perform routine maintenance tasks, such as addressing minor facility issues or vehicle upkeep.

Administrative tasks

  1. Maintain patient records, documenting treatments, medications, or procedures performed.
  2. Schedule appointments or coordinate visits to farms, stables, or other locations.
  3. Assist with inventory management and ordering of supplies.

Work Environment

  1. Large Animal or Equine Veterinary Assistants often work in a variety of settings, such as farms, stables, and veterinary clinics, which may involve exposure to outdoor elements and working in barns or other agricultural settings.
  2. The job can be physically demanding, as you may need to stand for long periods, lift heavy objects or animals, and perform repetitive tasks.
  3. Veterinary assistants may work irregular hours, including early mornings, evenings, weekends, and holidays, depending on the practice’s operating hours and the needs of the animals.
  4. The work can be emotionally challenging, as you may encounter sick, injured, or dying animals, as well as distressed animal owners.

Skills and Qualities

  1. Compassion and empathy: A genuine concern for the well-being of animals and the ability to empathize with their owners is essential.
  2. Communication skills: Effective verbal and written communication skills are crucial for interacting with clients, veterinarians, and other clinic staff.
  3. Attention to detail: Precision and accuracy are important for tasks like administering medications, updating patient records, and maintaining a clean and organized work environment.
  4. Physical stamina: The ability to stand for extended periods, lift heavy objects, and handle large or unruly animals is necessary.
  5. Time management: Veterinary assistants must balance multiple tasks and prioritize their work efficiently.
  6. Teamwork: Being able to work well with others, including veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and other clinic staff, is crucial for a successful work environment.
  7. Problem-solving: Veterinary assistants should be resourceful and adaptable, able to think critically and find solutions to challenges that arise during their work.


  1. Education: Although not mandatory, completing a veterinary assistant program or taking courses in animal care, biology, or a related field can help prepare you for the job. Some vocational schools, community colleges, and online programs offer veterinary assistant courses that focus on large animal or equine care.
  2. Certification: While not required, obtaining a certification like the Approved Veterinary Assistant (AVA) designation offered by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) can demonstrate your commitment to the profession and improve your employability. Some programs may offer a large animal or equine focus.
  3. Experience: Many veterinary assistants gain experience through internships, volunteer work at large animal or equine facilities, or entry-level positions in veterinary practices, where they receive on-the-job training.

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