Veterinary Assistant Program
The Animal Behavior College (ABC) veterinary assistant course is designed to provide you the convenience and cost of an online veterinary assistant program with the added benefit of working with a veterinarian or other veterinary personnel in a real-world hospital environment.
The first stages of the curriculum give you a strong understanding of veterinary medicine and the responsibilities you’ll have working in an animal health career as a veterinary assistant. Once your foundation has been established, you’ll be given the opportunity to work in an actual animal hospital setting. You’ll work closely with veterinary personnel to gain real life experience as you move closer to launching your new animal career.
NAVTA-Approved Veterinary Assistant Program
Our vet assistant school follows the guidelines set forth and approved by the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) in cooperation with AVTE (Association of Veterinary Technician Educators) & CVTEA (Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities).1
In 1972, the House of Delegates authorized a program of accreditation of training for animal technicians - the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA). Their objective is to recognize veterinary technician training programs that are fully capable of graduating acceptable assistants for veterinarians and to assist in the development of such programs, as well as to study all matters pertaining to activities of veterinary technicians, and to advise the Board of Directors concerning the implementation of AVMA policy concerning such matters.2
The AVTE was founded in 1973 to promote professional education to veterinary technology students in the United States and Canada. They advocate the cooperation among organizations, institutions and all of those interested in veterinary technology.
NAVTA was formed in 1981, allowing veterinary technicians to provide input on national issues involving the veterinary community.3
Veterinary Assistant Program Curriculum Description By Stage
The curriculum for our Veterinary Assistant Program provides you the knowledge and skills to become a veterinary assistant. There are 11 stages that include an online vet assistant course, 46 educational videos and your externship.
Stage 1 - OFFICE ETIQUETTE AND HOSPITAL PROCEDURES - 21 Days (5.33 units)
In this stage, you’re introduced to the front office procedures in a veterinary hospital. This stage includes medical record assembly, admitting and discharging patients, and important safety techniques and protocol for the veterinary office. You’ll also obtain rudimentary knowledge of veterinary laws and legalities.
You’ll acquire a thorough understanding of the role of each member of the veterinary team, including the veterinarian, veterinary assistant, veterinary technician and all other animal hospital staff while learning the professional ethics of this occupation.
Additionally, this stage covers certificates, both rabies and health certificates required for travel, inventory and restocking procedures as well as the computer skills needed in a veterinarian’s office.
Stage 2 - ANIMAL RESTRAINT - 21 Days (5.33 units)
In this stage, the fundamentals and the fine points of animal restraint are addressed. You’ll learn the differences between various forms of physical and psychological restraint techniques. You’ll also learn the proper placement and removal of different animals from enclosures and the handling of fractious patients. You’ll learn specific restraint methods during the physical examination, and the administration of injections and venipuncture.
This veterinary assistant stage also covers the proper positioning protocols for different animals and the standard veterinary terminology for each of these positions. This stage includes two veterinary assistant training videos that visually demonstrate restraint techniques for both the cat and dog.
Stage 3 - EXAMINATION ROOM PROCEDURES - 14 Days (5.33 units)
In this stage, examination room protocol is covered. You start with basic examination room preparation, including levels of cleaning and disinfection needed in a medical environment. Highlights of this portion of the stage include obtaining and documenting the patient’s history, which includes a history of their chief complaint and a complete medical and environmental history.
This stage also prepares you to perform physical examinations by learning to record observations, test and monitor vital signs, and determine the patient’s weight, respiratory rate and temperature. You also develop an understanding of vaccination protocols, bandaging, permanent identification and emergency support. This stage includes three veterinary assistant training videos on how to assist with bandaging and wound care, and how vaccinations work.
Stage 4 - PHARMACY AND PHARMACOLOGY - 14 Days (2.67 units)
In this stage, the use of pharmaceuticals in a veterinary office is addressed. Detailed information pertaining to the legal issues in drug handling, specifically the proper prescription labeling and packaging of medications, the correct way to store biological and therapeutic agents, and the efficient performance of inventory control are included.
You’re introduced to very general types and groups of drugs and the difference between prescription and over-the-counter medications. You also learn the proper routes and methods of drug and vaccine administration as well as the abbreviations used for writing and filling prescriptions. This stage has two veterinary assistant training videos to supplement the vet assistant course.
Stage 5 - SURGICAL PREPARATION AND ASSISTING - 35 Days (6.00 units)
In this stage, you learn the skills to best serve the animal hospital staff before, during and after a surgical procedure. You’re given explicit instruction on how to assist with the preparation of patients using aseptic techniques and assist with positioning of surgical patients while maintaining proper operating room conduct and asepsis. This section provides detailed information on anesthetic equipment and supplies, the appropriate sterilization methods for instruments and supplies, and the identification of common instruments and suture materials—both types and sizes.
Other critical components of this section include the understanding of operating room sanitation and care protocol, operation and maintenance of autoclaves, proper storage of surgical gowns and drapes, and the identification and appropriate care of common surgical equipment and supplies along with the proper disposition of hazardous medical wastes. This stage contains five veterinary assistant training videos as well: anesthetic equipment and patient monitoring, anesthetic machine basics, patient preparation, patient monitoring, and the aseptic technique.
Stage 6 - SMALL ANIMAL NURSING - 35 Days (10.67 units)
Stage 6 of our vet assistant course teaches you the fundamentals of small animal nursing. This stage will provide you with the tools needed to properly nurture the animals in your care. This stage focuses on identifying different breeds of dogs and cats, recognizing normal and abnormal behavior in dogs and cats, identifying common diseases and medical conditions, and properly caring for the hospitalized patient in your charge.
The essentials of patient housing, including environmental considerations, feeding and watering, and socialization and exercise, will also be addressed. Preventative care, such as grooming, ear cleaning, nail trimming, bathing, and dipping, along with dental hygiene will be covered as well. The prevention of nosocomial infections and zoonotic diseases, and the delicate subject of euthanasia is all part of this very educational stage.
Stage 7 - LABORATORY PROCEDURES - 21 Days (8.00 units)
In this vet assistant stage, you’ll acquire basic knowledge of laboratory procedures. Your studies will start with learning about the various laboratory equipment found in veterinary hospitals. You’ll then learn how to obtain, prepare and run tests for various biological samples, such as fecal, urine and blood, and how to record these laboratory results. You’ll learn how to identify common parasites—both internal and external. This challenging stage has six veterinary assistant training videos to support the curriculum: basic blood collection, basic microscope techniques, basic urinalysis, Complete Blood Count (CBC), fecal analysis and proper use of a refractometer.
Stage 8 - RADIOLOGY AND ULTRASOUND IMAGING - 21 Days (8.00 units)
In this stage, you’re instructed on the proper techniques of radiology and ultrasound as a means of diagnoses. This includes positioning patients, basic safety practices and techniques, and proper methods of equipment, including developing film. You’ll be introduced to the basic mechanisms of how imaging for X-ray, ultrasound and endoscopy are produced. This stage also includes anatomy and physiology for small animals (cats and dogs).
Stage 9 - CAREER BUILDING - 14 Days (3.33 units)
Stage 9 teaches you the fundamentals of career building as well as how to apply them to secure a position as an ABC Certified Veterinary Assistant (ABCVA). Special focus is placed on the job search and compensation considerations as well as how to write resumes, how to plan a productive job interview and how to maintain job security.
This stage also offers insight on how attitude affects your career with animals and the importance of financial planning and stability.
Stage 10 - EXTERNSHIP - Up to 20 Weeks (1.78 units)
Upon reaching Stage 10, you’ll have the opportunity to reinforce your studies by seeing what you have learned put to practice in an animal hospital setting.
The on-site training portion of our NAVTA-approved Vet Assistant Program is critical to helping you become a veterinary assistant. It also provides valuable feedback from the mentor facility on everything from your skill sets to attendance and professional demeanor.
Since ABC strives to provide the best educational experience possible for our students, we encourage feedback from the entire staff at the veterinary facility. The facility will provide input on the skills sets that will determine if a veterinary assistant career is the right choice for you. Although it’ll be up to the veterinary facility to determine the aptitude of each student and the tasks they feel the student is capable of performing, your actions and your willingness to learn can maximize your real world experience.
Pet CPR and First Aid Certification
Being a professional in any animal care career is accompanied by the responsibility of being able to react calmly and safely in the event of an emergency. Animal Behavior College’s Pet First Aid and CPR Certification will give you the knowledge needed to respond safely and effectively to medical emergencies like choking, heat stroke, bleeding injuries, and poisonous bites from insects and snakes.
You’ll also learn how to artificially keep a pet’s heart and lungs working until you can seek veterinary help along with many other vital life-saving skills. By learning what can happen and how to respond appropriately, you may prevent many pet emergencies from ever happening and thereby help ensure the safety of not only your own pets, but also any pets in your care.
Stage 11 - GRADUATION - 16 Days (3.33 units)
The Final Exam is given once your vet assistant course and externship have been successfully completed. You’ll review all of the material presented in the previous stages to prepare for the final. This review time is allotted for you to re-read and study the various concepts that have been taught. The Final Exam is designed to test your overall knowledge of skills required to become a veterinary assistant and will cover all areas of the curriculum.
Benefits of the ABC Veterinary Assistant Program
Study From the Privacy of Your Own Home
When you choose to enroll in ABC's Veterinary Assistant Program of study, you can keep your present job while completing your veterinary assistant training. The online portion of our vet assistant course brings the classroom to your living room and neighborhood, saving you time and money from having to live near and commute to campus.
Learn on your own time at your own pace. Getting your education online gives you the freedom to study around your current work or school schedule. With this flexibility, the normal completion time is 52 weeks.
Personal Program Manager
During the program, you’ll have an ABC Program Manager who will guide you through the program, counsel you, answer your questions and grade your exams. Your personal Program Manager will contact you shortly after enrollment to get acquainted and welcome you into the program. At that time, you’ll be given the Program Manager's contact information for future interactions and assistance as you journey through the program.
Short Term Programs
ABC offers Short Term Programs to those individuals interested in continuing their education. Although you may sign up for any of the Short Term Programs upon enrollment, you’ll only be granted access once you have successfully completed stage 9. This is done to ensure you have the knowledge necessary to maximize your learning experience.
Pet Sitting and Dog Walking
This program provides detailed information on the proper care of and interaction with a variety of pets—dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, fish and reptiles. Subjects include understanding animal communication, such as body language and vocalization, basic nutrition and hygiene, and first aid and safety. You’ll also learn how to: build relationships with clients and their pets, ensure personal and homeowner safety, create and maintain schedules, build clientele, and much more—everything you need to know to start your own pet sitting and/or dog walking business.
Upon completion of this course, you’ll have a new and highly sought after service to provide to existing and future clients and their pets. Pet Sitting and Dog Walking has been approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.
Pet Nutrition and Diet
The Pet Nutrition and Diet Short Term Program discusses basic pet nutrition, the regulations governing commercial pet foods, and the nutritional needs for both cats and dogs. In this course, you’ll learn how to read pet food labels, including the importance of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and protective nutrients. You’ll also learn about the different types of diets (i.e. dry food, canned food, raw food, supplements, etc.) and how food can play a huge role in a pet's behavior. After the completion of this program, you’ll have the knowledge to educate your clients on how to provide their animals with proper nutrition based on their pet's individual age, weight and health condition.
Pet Nutrition and Diet is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.
The Pet Massage Short Term Program gives pet groomers, dog trainers, and veterinary staff the knowledge on how to calm each pet they interact with. The ability to soothe and calm dogs through touch improves the human-animal relationship and promotes trust and bonding. This comprehensive course includes step-by-step instructions that guide you through the details of the choreography of a massage for different sizes and types of pets. Topics include: general anatomy and physiology, principles and concepts for different types of massage, creating your workspace, preparing yourself, details for how to develop a pet massage business, and much more!*
In addition, Pet Massage is approved by the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) and the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) for CEU credits.
*State and federal laws regarding the practice of Pet Massage vary widely and are subject to change. Since ABC has no jurisdiction regarding state and federal laws revolving around the practice of Pet Massage, ABC highly recommends that potential students educate themselves on the state and federal laws and regulations and how that may affect their practice of Pet Massage before purchasing the ABC Pet Massage Short Term Program. It’s the responsibility of potential students to determine what laws and regulations their state has adopted to govern the practice of Pet Massage. ABC doesn’t assume any responsibility for state or federal regulations that prohibit or limit the practice of pet massage by the student.