After completing a bachelor’s degree and four years of veterinary school at the University of Florida, living the life that I worked so hard to achieve is a fulfilling experience. Those years at school were rigorous, and my life as a veterinarian is not exactly docile. Our team at Groves Veterinary Clinic thought you would be interested to know what a veterinarian’s typical day is like.
First thing in the morning: Checking on inpatients
Our practice opens at 7:30 a.m., but I get to work much earlier, to check on our inpatients and evaluate them before the day’s first appointment.
- Rudie the Rhodesian ridgeback — The first patient I check is 3-year-old Rudie, on whom I performed a tibial plateau leveling osteotomy (TPLO) to repair a cranial cruciate ligament tear. Rudie seems happy to see me, and his surgical site is doing well.
- Bertie the Labrador retriever — After adding some notes to Rudie’s chart, I look in on 12-year-old Bertie, who is suffering from kidney disease. We kept him overnight to administer intravenous fluids, trying to stabilize his condition. Bertie’s physical exam is normal, and his catheter is in good shape. We will perform blood work later, to determine how his kidneys are responding to the fluid therapy.
- Frisky the orange tabby cat — My final inpatient is Frisky. We will perform an endoscopy on him later today, and we had to fast him overnight, to ensure his stomach would be empty for the endoscopy. He is definitely not pleased when I ignore his piteous pleas for breakfast.
Mid-morning: Time to see appointments
Since all my inpatients are faring well, I let my veterinary technicians know that I am ready to start seeing today’s pets with appointments.
- First up, a puppy — for their vaccines and microchipping, followed by …
- An itchy dog — who is losing their hair,
- Two cats — for booster vaccinations, and
- A dog — because they are limping
Some appointments are quick and easy, requiring only a quick vaccination, while others require a detailed examination and diagnostics, such as bloodwork and X-rays.
Late morning: Lunch time—sort of
I grab a quick bite to eat—at the same time as I write up my case notes for the morning appointments, and return a phone call from an owner looking for bloodwork results on Fred, a lethargic basset hound who is anemic. We will need to see Fred tomorrow for further diagnostics.
Early afternoon: Setting up for elective surgeries
I typically perform my elective surgeries after lunch. Today, I have two:
- A dog spay
- A 12-week-old puppy, who I diagnosed with hip dysplasia last week, and who needs a juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS). This procedure can help prevent the puppy from developing arthritis caused by hip laxity.
I perform a physical exam on both surgical patients, and do blood work to ensure they are healthy enough to undergo anesthesia. But, before I can begin my first surgery …
Still early afternoon: It’s an emergency
A dog who has been hit by a car is brought in, and the emergency, of course, takes precedence over my elective surgeries. The dog is conscious and breathing well, but in severe pain. The right hind limb is painful to palpation, so I send for X-rays, which show a broken tibia and fibula that will need surgical repair. I plan to stabilize the dog overnight, and perform the leg surgery tomorrow. I administer pain medication, bandage the broken limb, and start intravenous fluids.
The emergency is under control, so back to surgery—and more
I proceed to my surgery and take care of the spay and JPS. After my surgeries, I need to evaluate:
- Two dogs — Baxter the dachshund, a 10-year-old dental patient who needs a tooth pulled, and a dog who is coughing
- Two puppies — Both need their puppy vaccinations
- Two cats — One has a corneal ulcer, and the other boasts a lump on their head
Mid-afternoon: Time for a “break”
I take a break. I leave my appointments, but I use the break to return a call from the Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County, to let them know I can attend their community service function this weekend.
Late afternoon: Time for surgery rounds
I check in on my surgical patients.
- Nellie the spayed dog — Nellie is coming around and already attempting to lick the incision site, so I ask my technician to fit an Elizabethan collar, because we do not want Nellie pulling out the sutures. Nellie is definitely not impressed by her new head gear.
- Fitz the 12-week-old puppy — Fitz is also waking up and seems to be doing well. I call Fitz’s owner to tell him that he can pick up his puppy later this evening.
Early evening: A veterinarian’s day is not done
My next order of business includes:
- Frisky the orange tabby cat — I prepare our inpatient Frisky, who has been vomiting, for their endoscopy, to evaluate the stomach lining. The evaluation indicates a gastric ulcer, so I start the cat on a gastroprotectant medication.
- Bertie the Labrador with kidney disease — I look at the blood work results, which show the kidney values are improving, so we will keep him on fluid therapy for now. I call his owners to let them know the good news.
- A euthanasia — Sadly, euthanizing a dog in liver failure is next on my agenda.
- Rudie and Fitz — I discharge my two orthopedic surgical patients, my last appointments for the day.
Can I go home now?
Finally: Time to go home
After a normal day—hectic but fulfilling— I go home to Rogan and Bevan, my four-legged buddies, for some much-needed rest and relaxation.
Life as a veterinarian is always busy, but satisfying and interesting, and I would not change my chosen field for any other profession. If you would like to schedule an appointment for your pet, do not hesitate to contact our team at Groves Veterinary Clinic. Our goal is to always give your pet the best care possible.