A Day In The Life Of A Veterinarian

by Dr. Maegan Melillo

6:00am. The alarm goes off in the form of four little paws that cross my pillow and a little wet nose that is stuck in my face. It’s not uncommon for a veterinarian’s alarm clock to be of the canine or feline variety. The morning routine is completed as I contemplate what is on the docket for today… a morning of surgeries and an afternoon of appointments. My drive to work allows me the time to mull over the technique I am going to use for the surgeries that morning and the individualized protocols I will use for each patient.

7:45am. I arrive at the clinic feeling prepared and ready to take on the day. I walk in the door and am greeted by a smiling face and warm, “Good morning!” from the staff, which is then followed by “I have an emergency appointment already waiting in one exam room and a transfer from the emergency clinic on the way”. I take a deep breath realizing that the plan for my morning running smoothly has just flown right out the window. Remaining calm, cool and collected. I enter the exam room to get “the full story”- 4 year old Labrador Retriever cross that has just managed to eat 2 or 3 rat traps filled with poison. I examine the patient, a plan is formed, an estimate is created and my four legged, rat-trap-eating friend is admitted to hospital. Just as I am about to examine my first surgical patient, the patient that is being transferred from the emergency clinic has arrived. My exam is interrupted and I proceed into the next exam room to see what is waiting for me. The morning is not going as planned but you just have to roll with it.

8:30am. I “tap out” of appointments as I now have back up- another veterinarian has arrived and by 9am the morning is in full swing and back on track. All staff are on deck.

9:30am. All the surgical patients are examined and I start in on my first surgery of the day. All runs smoothly and by noon, we are back on track. I am placing phone calls to clients to report laboratory results and to check in on patients that had left the hospital the day before not feeling all that well. Good news! All the laboratory results I am reporting are normal but the bad news is that “Fluffy”, the constipated cat from yesterday, is still constipated despite our best efforts at treating him from home.

1:30pm. Appointments start up again. Most appointments are what I would consider to be straight forward, vaccine appointments intermingled with the occasional and adorable, puppy and kitten appointment. In and amongst those appointments, Fluffy the constipated cat is admitted to hospital for the inevitable enema series treatment. Between appointments, Fluffy receives his first treatment- all goes well. By the second treatment, Fluffy knows what is coming and he isn’t too pleased. Before I know it, one loud “MEOW” and I am covered from head to toe in the fruits of my labour and Fluffy’s excrement. As our technicians, veterinarians and animal care attendants scramble to help me wipe my face and get my enema soaked clothes off of me, I think to myself,”YAY! Fluffy is no longer constipated; he must feel so much better!”

After a sponge bath in the grooming tub and a change of wardrobe, I managed to finish off my afternoon of appointments and my shift was now over… or so I thought.

4:30pm. Another emergency walk-in comes through the door. The other veterinarians on staff are busy in appointments so I take the walk-in. A dog fight left this patient with a small whole in his flank. Some sedation, a small stitch, antibiotics and pain medication is the cure.

5:30pm. I am able to leave the clinic. I get home, have a long, hot shower and think to myself, “I have THE best job” and it is true. A veterinarian’s life is not glamorous but they love what they do.  They love the animals, they love the people and they love medicine. It’s just that simple.