The skills of the veterinary nurse

Let's see together what the fundamental skills of the veterinary nurse are and which are essential to carry out this wonderful job every day

Prerequisites for becoming a veterinary nurse

To be a veterinary nurse the requirements are the following, of equal importance and coexisting in daily practice:

Loving animals. All the animals! Loving also sick animals and no longer adorable puppies and, above all, having a strong drive to help them;

Loving science: veterinary, biology, pathology, but also parasitology, zoology, nutrition and surgery.

Furthermore, to become a veterinary nurse, you generally have to attend a three-year degree course. Some universities offer specific courses to learn more about nursing techniques and the care of dogs and cats and other small animals.

Find out more: read how to become a qualified veterinary nurse!

Beyond the love for animals and for science being at the basis of your journey to become a veterinary nurse, let’s now see together the fundamental skills to face the work of veterinary nurses every day.

What are the skills of the veterinary nurse?

Communication skills

At work, you will spend a lot of time communicating with your supervisor, with the owners of the animals (who can sometimes be quite upset, sad or angry) and with other staff members.

It may happen that you have to advise people on how to take care, feed or train their animals, therefore you will have to be able to communicate clearly by putting the client at ease.


Often you will have to deal with sick animals and their worried and apprehensive owners, you need to be understanding.

You will see abused animals and animals who are suffering. The important thing is never to lose sight of your purpose: the physical and psychological health of your patients!

Attention to detail

You will need to be extremely precise when recording various information when monitoring the vital signs of an animal under anaesthesia, administering medicines to animals or performing diagnostic tests.

The constant concentration on details translates directly into attention to small things that very often prove to be of fundamental importance in the surgical theatre.


The job of a veterinary nurse requires you to take on different responsibilities. For this, being reliable must one of your strengths.

Among these responsibilities, you will have to supervise your patient by yourself from the beginning to the end of surgery.

You will have to make sure that its vital parameters remain within the normal range during the operation. The values to monitor are body temperature, heartbeats, breathing, blood pressure, depth of anaesthesia, including analgesia, oxygenation…

Another task of a veterinary nurse is to keep records: whether they are customers, products or drugs, it is very important to be organized, methodical and responsible.


You will find yourself working with animals of different sizes, and you will have to handle medical and laboratory equipment with great care. There is a long series of tasks that must be addressed with the greatest possible caution, such as, for example, performing bandages and dressings, inserting catheters, making x-rays and performing anaesthesia.

Problem-solving skills

You will have to think outside the box and have excellent skills to understand what the problems are – and therefore the relative solutions – in case of certain accidents or illnesses.

This skill, among others, will help you get right between naughty patients. For this, you will have to come up with innumerable ways to deal with all the different needs of your patients.


Perseverance is essential.

First, it is not easy to find veterinary practice or hospitals ready to hire a veterinary nurse who is not yet qualified. 
Three years of university studies may seem like a big a commitment but it’s definitely worth persevering because it will give you better job opportunities.

This is why you must be strong in your personality and preparation in order not to let yourself be overwhelmed by the first difficulties, like integrating into an already solid team, but also (and above all!) seeing a patient suffer.


Sometimes the obvious isn’t all that obvious.

You need empathy for animals in need of help, who are injured and in trouble. Equally important is empathy with pet owners.

You will also need a third level of empathy: peer empathy. That is, your team members: veterinarians, nurses, customer service and animal care workers need your empathy.

While there are always fantastic days full of puppies, kittens and success stories, there are often days when the results are not so good. You and your teammates will need mutual understanding and care to get through difficult days.


Sometimes there isn’t much to do. Sometimes things take time to happen: test results, healing from surgery or disease, therapies, collaboration with that patient a little more agitated than the others, but also study, job offers and salary reviews. Pretty much everything is going slower than we would like.

Another similar strength is the ability to remain calm. It is necessary to have a very calm temperament in order to have the firmness to face complicated situations such as the containment of an agitated and injured animal or to mediate with an owner worried about his pet.


Being a veterinary nurse requires a good deal of patience, empathy and collaboration. It is also necessary to have a good organization to be precise and reliable.

Last but not least, in this job it is necessary to always maintain firmness and dedication.

If you also think you have these skills, your veterinary nurse career is waiting for you!

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