Veterinary Assistant/Laboratory Animal Caretaker  What They Do

Just the Facts


Veterinary Assistants and Laboratory Animal Caretakers Career Video



Feeds, waters and examines pets and other non-farm animals for signs of illness, disease or injury in laboratories, animal hospitals and clinics. Cleans and disinfects cages and work areas, and sterilizes laboratory and surgical equipment. May provide routine post-operative care, administer medication orally or topically, or prepare samples for examination under the supervision of veterinary or laboratory animal technologists or technicians, veterinarians or scientists.

This career is part of the Health Science cluster Support Services pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Holds or restrains animals during veterinary procedures.
  • Cleans and maintains kennels, animal holding areas, examination or operating rooms, or animal loading or unloading facilities to control the spread of disease.
  • Fills medication prescriptions.
  • Assists veterinarians in examining animals to determine the nature of illnesses or injuries.
  • Monitors animals recovering from surgery and notifies veterinarians of any unusual changes or symptoms.
  • Cleans, maintains, and sterilizes instruments or equipment.
  • Examines animals to detect behavioral changes or clinical symptoms that could indicate illness or injury.
  • Administers medication, immunizations, or blood plasma to animals as prescribed by veterinarians.
  • Educates or advises clients on animal health care, nutrition, or behavior problems.
  • Collects laboratory specimens, such as blood, urine, or feces for testing.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 20 lbs., sometimes up to 50 lbs. You might do a lot of lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling.
  • Work in this occupation involves bending or twisting your body more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Exposed to disease and infections more than once a month through work such as patient care, laboratory work, and sanitation control
  • Work in this occupation involves using your hands to hold, control, and feel objects more than one-third of the time
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves kneeling, crouching, stooping, and/or crawling more than one-third of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Exposed to radiation more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation involves use of special protective items such as a breathing apparatus, safety harness, full protection suit, or radiation protection
  • Work in this occupation involves standing more than one-third of the time
  • Work in this occupation involves walking or running more than one-third of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person
  • Using abdominal and lower back muscles repeatedly or over time without tiring

Work Hours and Travel

  • Regular working hours and limited travel

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • Kennel Technician -- Responsible for the general care and maintenance of all pets boarded in the kennel.
  • Avian Keeper --