Veterinarians and veterinary technicians frequently draw blood from dogs, cats and other animals brought to the clinic for medical care. Unlike in human medicine, where people can specialize in phlebotomy, in veterinary medicine it’s part of what veterinary technicians do. They learn this as part of their formal degree program.
Basics of Veterinary Phlebotomy
Phlebotomy refers to drawing blood, typically to perform testing on the sample for diseases or for key indicators such as blood sugar. It might look simple, but it can be a complex process. Taking the blood incorrectly or not handling it properly could skew the results. Not all animals react the same to having blood taken. Exotic animals such as ferrets or rabbits might be more skittish than cats or dogs. If so, the animal might require anesthesia. The University of California San Diego notes that blood tests can be affected by factors such as how stressed an animal is, its age and where on the body the blood is drawn from. Veterinarians and vet techs must understand the influence of these factors and consider them when interpreting test results.
Learning How to Draw Blood
Even after initial training, it can take months or years to become skilled at drawing blood. Vets and vet techs must understand how to identify a viable vein, by looking or feeling for one, and place pressure on it to make it easier to take blood. They must also draw enough blood for as many diagnostic tests are needed, but not so much as to harm the animal.