General practice veterinarians offer a wide range of services for their patients, often all under one roof.
These may include:
As a result, veterinarians need a lot of specialized equipment in order to do their job! Some veterinary tools have been around for a long time while others are brand-new, cutting-edge technologies.
The following lists are certainly not exhaustive but include many of the common tools used by small animal veterinarians in 2023. They are organized by where in the clinic they are likely to be found.
The 69 Tools Veterinarians Use (Organized by Clinic Room)
1. The Examination Room
In a typical small animal examination room, you are likely to find many of the following items:
It is important to mention that, in addition to those listed above, some of the most important tools a veterinarian uses (regardless of the species they treat) are their own eyes, ears, and hands. Vets closely observe each patient, listen to their heart and lungs, feel all over their body for “lumps and bumps,” and palpate their abdomen for any abnormalities. The value of a thorough physical examination should never be underestimated!
Some veterinarians have upgraded versions of the tools listed above, for example:
2. The Treatment Area
The treatment area is where a lot of the action happens in veterinary hospitals. Wounds are clipped and cleaned, bandages applied, nails trimmed, blood and urine samples collected, intravenous (IV) fluids started, and patients may even be prepped for surgery (the final sterile prep occurs in the surgery suite).
Some of the tools you might find in a small animal treatment area include:
More and more clinics are incorporating light therapies into their practice, including laser therapy and fluorescence biomodulation:
Therapeutic lasers utilize red (to almost infrared) light to reduce inflammation, decrease pain, and stimulate healing. They are helpful in treating a wide variety of conditions, such as:
Many pets tolerate laser therapy extremely well because it does not cause any discomfort (it produces a gentle warming sensation). The hardest part is often keeping patients still for the 15- to 30-minute treatments! In some cases, your pet’s fur may be shaved at the treatment site so light can be transmitted into the tissue more effectively.
It is important to note that special protective glasses/goggles must be worn by everyone in the room during laser therapy sessions, to prevent retinal damage.
Vetoquinol’s Phovia system uses blue LED light to activate a special gel applied to the area being treated. Blue light does not penetrate deeply into tissue like red light, so it is used to treat superficial conditions.
Here are some of the benefits:
3. The Laboratory
Many veterinary clinics have equipment for analyzing blood and urine samples in-house. Results are often available in less than an hour, which helps veterinarians figure out what is going on with their patients quickly.
Tools found in the lab of a typical veterinary clinic may include:
For certain tests, your veterinarian may still need to send samples to an outside diagnostic laboratory.
4. Diagnostic Imaging Room
The room containing a veterinary hospital’s x-ray machine is always separated from the rest of the building by lead walls, to protect staff and patients from unnecessary radiation exposure.
The tools commonly found in this room include:
Although more commonly found at specialty referral hospitals, some general practice veterinarians are starting to offer advanced imaging technologies like:
5. The Surgery Suite
A typical small animal hospital is equipped to handle routine and emergency soft-tissue surgeries.
The following items are necessities in any surgical suite:
The following equipment is also found in veterinary surgery suites, but relates to general anesthesia:
Some clinics (particularly emergency and referral hospitals) also have advanced life-support equipment like ventilators.
Minimally invasive surgery is becoming increasingly popular and accessible in veterinary medicine. This type of surgery uses cameras and special tools passed through multiple small incisions, rather than one large incision into the abdomen or chest.
Advantages of minimally invasive surgery include:
Some examples of procedures that can be performed using this technique are:
If you are interested in pursuing minimally invasive surgery for your pet, make sure to choose a veterinarian who has a lot of experience with this technique.
It is also important to note that in some cases, the veterinarian may need to change the plan and switch to a more traditional surgical approach if complications arise during the procedure.
6. The Dental Suite
A dental suite has many similarities to a surgical suite:
Dental suites also have all the same equipment as surgical suites for monitoring patients under general anesthesia (see previous list). Patients are always intubated during dental procedures, with extra gauze at the back of their mouth, to prevent them from inhaling water.
Some of the specialized equipment found in a veterinary dental suite includes:
It is important to note that all dental procedures for pets should be performed under general anesthesia and supervised by a qualified veterinary team.
While you may see anesthetic-free dental cleanings advertised, please note that the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) considers them to be unacceptable. These procedures can be traumatizing for pets, fail to provide thorough cleaning (especially below the gum line), and do not allow for dental x-rays to be taken (which are a critical part of evaluating dental health).
The idea of putting your pet under general anesthesia can be scary, but your veterinary team will do everything they can to keep your fur baby safe. Talk to your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet’s dental health.
Veterinary hospitals require a great deal of equipment to be able to provide pets with comprehensive care. This article has focused on the tools used by small animal veterinarians in general practice. Large animal veterinarians use very similar items, but adapted to the size and anatomy of the patients they treat.
In addition to the tools we have mentioned, referral veterinarians (e.g., cardiologists, ophthalmologists, dermatologists) will have special equipment related to the unique procedures they perform.
Above all, veterinarians rely on their knowledge, experience, and love of animals to provide you and your fur babies with the best care possible!
Featured Image Credit: Mikhail Nilov, Pexels