It can be easy to forget when you take an animal to the vets that there is a whole team of people, beyond the veterinary surgeon, working to help you and your animal. One you should be familiar with is a veterinary nurse. However, you may not be familiar with nurse clinics, a separate consultation from a purely veterinary one. These clinics fulfil a very different role to that of veterinary clinics (though they often work in tandem), and can offer a more personal chat about your animal and their welfare. Today we will run through what our nurse clinics do, their roles, and some things to consider before you book a nurse clinic. The next time you have to bring your pet into us, consider whether a nurse clinic would be more helpful to you.
What is a Nurse Clinic?
A nurse clinic is (obviously!) a clinic operated by one of our veterinary nurses. Unlike a vet, who is usually seen when your animal is poorly, our nurse clinics are focussed on preventative care. This means that the nurses will work with you to devise the optimum healthcare, welfare, environment and life for your pet, to prevent the sort of diseases that require help from a veterinary surgeon. This is best started from when you first get your animal, and continued until they are elderly, as care requirements will change as your animal gets older. Common areas focused on are weight gain/loss, helping maintain mobility in elderly patients, advice for first time owners, care of puppies or kittens, behavioural training, keeping up flea and worming, and improving dental hygiene.
As well as looking at your animal’s life when they’re healthy, our nurses can help you adjust to when they aren’t – post-surgery, or during illness, for example, our vets may ask you to change your pet’s feeding, exercise, or environment, as well as to administer drugs. This can be a lot to take in, so visiting a nurse clinic regularly after seeing a vet can help make sure you are doing the best you can to get your pet well again. Regular reminders to administer medication too are always useful, and any questions you may have on welfare can be answered by our nurses.
There are a number of minor procedures our nurses can perform as well, including clipping nails, removing matted fur, giving microchips, emptying anal glands, treating parasites, and so on. If you are only bringing your pet in for one of these, ask if a nurse could do it instead, to save the time of the veterinary surgeons, and to give you a chance to check your animal’s welfare.
The Benefits of Nurse Clinics
Visiting our nurse clinics has a number of benefits to you and your pet, the biggest being that you can have a double check that everything you are doing is suitable for your pet, and if not, what you can do to improve things. Our main goal is always to improve animal welfare, so having a nurse work with you as an individual owner to improve welfare will always yield some results. Even experienced owners may find something they can change, or discover new ideas.
Furthermore, nurse clinics offer a friendlier, more personalised approach to healthcare that you may not get from a vet – of course, we know that our vets are friendly, but they have a lot to squeeze into a short appointment, and you may not get a chance to have a chat about anything beyond the reason you are there. A nurse clinic gives you time to relax, chat and discuss your pet. Hopefully this will make you and your pet more comfortable with visiting the vets in the first place, so you may be happier phoning up the next time you have some concerns.
As mentioned above, nurse clinics are also great for post-operative care. It may be a lot to take in during a veterinary consultation, post-operation, so seeing one of our nurses soon after means you can ask about anything you are unsure of, and discuss a plan to manage healthcare from that point. Nurses can also administer drugs that have been prescribed by a vet, so if you are having trouble getting those tablets down a grumpy cat’s throat, a nurse clinic may help you learn the best technique. During this stressful time, regular care may be forgotten in favour of the postoperative care, so seeing a nurse who can talk about maintaining walks, grooming or anything else may make the job easier.
A Nurse vs a Vet – Some Considerations
While nurse clinics are a great and essential part of our veterinary practice, there are a few considerations you should make before booking one. The main thing to remember is that a nurse is not a vet – as such, they cannot legally diagnose your animal. If your animal is looking unwell, or injured, a nurse can only advise you see a vet, so it is better to see a vet in the first place. Should a nurse notice something during their consult, they will also refer you to the vet. Try not to push for an answer from them, as their role is not to diagnose illness.
A nurse also cannot prescribe drugs, meaning you cannot bring your sick animal into a nurse clinic and expect to receive drugs afterwards – in this case too, a vet must be seen. This extends to regular patients who might want to change a drug or dose. A nurse cannot change a prescription without seeing a vet first. By all means, discuss the drug, what it does, the best way to administer it, and so on. However, just be aware any changes will have to be made by a vet.
Every member of staff at our practice works incredibly hard to keep your animal fit and well – part of this means avoiding illness and maintaining high welfare standards. Our veterinary nurses and nurse clinics excel at this, so if you are ever unsure about your pet’s care, want some advice on a new or old animal, or just want a friendly chat about some new welfare ideas, consider calling us up for a nurse clinic. You should never have to feel unsure about looking after your best friends.