Last month was a big deal here at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital! On June 19 we happily celebrated 20 years of serving the pets and humans of Katy, Texas. Our practice has grown quite a bit since its opening day on June 19, 1998. Join us as we look back at where we came from and forward to many years to come!
Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital got its start in a strip mall on Cinco Ranch Boulevard in Katy, which was the fastest-growing city in the country at the time! Back then, the staff was small, just Dr. Hibler; his wife, Mary Beth; and one other employee.
How did the dream for a local animal hospital get its start? Dr. Steven Hibler, who’s a Houston native, says the idea of becoming a veterinarian came from his father, a farmer who had wished to be a vet himself.
Dr. Hibler attended Texas A&M, where he earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) in 1984. He then worked for 12 years in emergency and critical care of animals. It was rewarding work but left little time for his family. That’s when he realized, “Emergency/critical care is the type of practice for a young person…you get too old to stay up all night!” It was time to open his own practice.
In 1998, the doors of Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital opened…with zero clients. The small team worked hard accomplishing everything that needed doing at the hospital. They walked dogs, mopped the floor, took out the trash, and more.
Since that time, the practice grew quickly! We’ve seen dozens of great and memorable animals pass through our doors, and plenty of funny stories to go along with them. In fact, Mary Beth will soon be publishing a book full of these tales—or should we say “tails?”
Besides the thousands of dogs and cats we’ve treated, we’ve also seen our fair share of unusual cases over our 20 years. We treated an exotic dancer’s snake, and we stitched up an emu! At one point, potbelly pigs were a very popular pet in Houston, so one could be found snuffling about the clinic at any given time.
Today, Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital is still a small group, and we’ve worked hard to maintain our “family feel.” Dr. Cara Longshore joined the team in 2005, and Dr. Tanya Brown joined in 2007. We also employ about a dozen other friendly staff, including vet techs and receptionists. Together over the past 20 years, we’ve had good times and bad. The team lost a member to cancer, and many of the hospital’s employees and patients were affected by Hurricane Harvey. But we stick together, and every day brings new challenges and new fun.
Working at a veterinary hospital is one of the most rewarding experiences someone could have. Dr. Hibler enjoys the independence of owning his own practice, the team feeling that has grown up over the years, and, of course, the pets.
Spoken like a true animal person, Dr. Hibler says, “The hardest thing about running a veterinary hospital? People. Pets are fine.”
Click through to see our adventures through the years!
When you visit the veterinarian’s office, you’re greeted at the front desk and asked to sign in. You sit with your cat, dog, or other pet in the waiting room until your name is called. Once it is, you’re greeted by someone who’s not the vet.
But who are they?
That’s a veterinarian technician!
Find out how veterinary techs help your pet and why their jobs are so important to veterinary clinics and hospitals.
What Is a Veterinary Technician, Anyway?
A veterinary technician is the professional in charge of your pet’s care along with your veterinarian. Although a vet tech doesn’t perform surgery or diagnose your animal friend, they are extremely involved in all the aspects of your pet’s visit.
When you bring your pet in for a check-up or an appointment, a vet tech is usually the first person you speak to when you enter the exam room. They take notes regarding your pet’s:
They also check your pet’s
They may also ask you questions about the reason for your visit.
What Does a Vet Tech Do?
A veterinary technician has their hands in everything around the office, but they don’t perform roles that require a veterinarian, such as surgery and prescribing medications.
They administer extra testing.
Sometimes, after an exam is completed by the veterinarian, further work is needed to determine what’s wrong. This often includes X-rays and lab tests, such as blood tests. If your vet orders a lab test for your dog, for example, your vet tech will personally take the samples and run the test. They’ll pass the results on to the veterinarian for a diagnosis.
They give medicine.
If medication is prescribed by your vet after they make a diagnosis, often the vet tech gives the medication to your pet.
They act as a right-hand man/woman during surgery.
If surgery is required, the tech will often explain the entire procedure to you, answering questions and providing reassurance.
They care for animals after surgery.
After a procedure is complete, the vet tech sticks around to monitor your pet. If overnight care is required, they continue to keep an eye on your pet, documenting any changes or progress.
A vet tech is on the frontline of education. Not only do they answer the questions of any pet owners who visit the clinic, many host training and behavior classes. Or they teach basic care to new pet owners, including animal welfare and disease prevention.
They do what’s needed.
Some clinics also have vet techs perform routine procedures, such as:
- Dental cleanings
- Nail trimmings
Are Vet Techs Important?
Veterinary technicians are vital to every veterinary clinic; they keep the office running. What would doctors for humans do without nurses? A vet tech’s work in the exam room, the operating room, and with pet parents is invaluable. It allows the entire office to see more patients while helping the veterinarian make diagnoses.
How Do You Become a Veterinary Technician?
To become a veterinarian technician, students must earn at least an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Technology, which takes two years. Students can also major in Animal Science, but that degree must offer veterinary technology as an emphasis. Some colleges may require students to observe in a veterinary hospital for at least 16 hours before being allowed to enroll in the program.
During their education, training vet techs learn about topics, including:
- Animal behavior
- Clinical practices
- Animal pharmacology
- Veterinarian clinic management
- And more!
Communication courses are also recommended, as many vet techs work directly with pet owners. Students can also choose to specialize in particular fields, like:
- Critical care
A degree—either an Associate’s or a Bachelor’s—is required to take the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). The exam covers everything learned in the student’s courses, from surgery to lab procedures.
Once it is passed, the newly minted veterinary technician often applies for an internship and later a permanent position. It’s recommended that vet techs join the National Association of Veterinary Technicians to help them find the right positions, continue their education, and further their careers.
Only three states in the United States offer a way to become a veterinary technician without a degree or exam. Texas is not one of them. California, Alaska, and Wisconsin allow aspiring vet techs to get on-the-job training and pursue their certifications.
Who Becomes a Veterinary Technician?
Just like veterinarians, the job of veterinary technician attracts a certain type of person. Almost all are animal lovers first and foremost and pursue the position out of a passion for pets. But a good vet tech should also be…
…especially in high-pressure situations.
In addition to animals, they must also be passionate about:
A major aspect of their job is interacting with pet owners, both veterans and people who are new to owning animals!
There is no doubt that veterinary technicians are vital to any veterinary clinic or hospital. No wonder there’s a National Veterinary Technician Week! (In 2017, it’s October 15-21.) Everyone is thankful for their hard work and dedication to their position and animal welfare.
It’s likely that the only time you’re ever at your veterinarian’s office is when you bring your pet in for an exam. This gives you a peek at what life at the hospital is like, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. There’s so much going on behind the scenes! And you don’t get to see a lot of your vet’s job. Each day is different, depending on who walks through the doors. Your vet’s morning may start with a young, happy puppy attending its first check-up or an aging cat in need of life-saving surgery.
Let’s explore a day in the life of a vet!
Starting the Day
Most veterinarians wake up the same way other pet owners do: with a cold nuzzle of a nose just in time for a morning walk or a soft, yet demanding cry for food. After their own morning routine and asking their pet to “be good,” a vet makes their way to the office. Most clinics open around 8 or 9 AM and begin seeing clients immediately. Cinco Ranch Vet opens at 7 AM, Monday through Friday, and 8 AM on Saturdays.
Spaying, Neutering, Surgeries
Often, veterinarians have set appointment times for surgeries, including spaying and neutering. They tend to do them in the mornings, so animal that need the procedures are seen in a timely manner and have the rest of the day to recover at the office before being picked up by their humans in the afternoons or early evenings.
Spay and neuters involve anesthesia and pain medication as well as constant monitoring during the procedure. A male cat’s neuter is by far the fastest, with the procedure itself sometimes taking as few as two minutes! A male dog’s neuter will take a vet a bit longer—up to 20 minutes—but this depends on the dog’s size and age.
Spaying female cats and dogs takes vets a bit longer, especially if the animal is in heat. For cats, a vet will spend 15 to 20 minutes in surgery, and a dog’s spay procedure can be up to 90 minutes.
In addition to spay and neuter procedure, veterinarians usually have to factor in other surgeries, like:
- Tooth extraction
- Surgery on cancer
- Bladder stone removal
These are extremely common reasons a dog or cat may require a procedure.
Besides time in the operating rooms, vets also dedicate time out of their day, either at the office or at home, to research information about diagnoses and surgeries and surgical techniques, so they’re always improving the way they care for your pet.
Much of your veterinarian’s day involves doing check-ups. Many check-ups are for animals’ first ever vet visits! Some breeders’ contracts require new owners to take their pets to a vet within three days, and some shelters ask that new owners visit within seven.
During your cat or dog’s very first visit, your veterinarian will check many things:
- Lungs (by listening)
- Heart (by listening)
- Mouth and teeth
- Abdomen (by feeling)
- Lymph nodes (by feeling)
An animal’s first visit is also a great chance for owners to ask questions about their new pets, including future care and diet, so a vet will listen to their questions and concerns and propose solutions. Many pets also receive their first shots during this visit and get a schedule for booster shots and other vaccinations.
As you know, animals shouldn’t go to the vet just once. Annual check-ups are important for their ongoing health, and a vet’s typical day includes these too. An annual check-up may involve:
- A dental exam
- An overall wellness check
Many owners will also receive advice from their vets, which may include diet and activity changes as the pet gets older.
First-time visits and annual check-ups are made by appointments, which make up much of a veterinarian’s day. There are other reasons for appointments, usually because of concerns a pet owner has. Three common reasons cats and dogs see the vet are:
- Upset stomachs
- Skin allergies
- Ear infections
Dogs often also require appointments for skin and bladder infections, while cats visit for kidney and dental disease.
During these types of appointments, a vet inspects the animal, which may include taking its weight and temperature and asking the owner questions about changes in the pet’s:
- Eating habits
The vet may make a diagnosis right away, based on what they see and hear, but some issues require further testing like:
- Blood work
The veterinarian will also offer advice on what to look for in the next few days and how to care for the animal in the future.
Sometimes emergency cases walk—or are carried—through the door of a veterinary hospital. A dog could have been involved in a fight or a car accident. Or an animal’s behavior or health may have suddenly changed, like labored breathing or excessive straining in the litter box.
When situations like this happen, many owners are unsure at first and call veterinary offices for advice, which is always welcome. If the veterinarian advises, the animal will be brought in.
If a life-threatening emergency shows up at a clinic, it is likely to be seen immediately. After an examination—and stabilization, if needed—the veterinarian will advise the owner on what to do next.
Note: If you ever believe your pet needs an emergency vet visit, don’t hesitate: Call 281-693-7387 to ask for advice or get information about coming in.
Sadly, a veterinarian’s day sometimes involves euthanasia. When there is nothing more that can be done for a pet, or they are in considerable pain, euthanasia is sometimes recommended. Although it does make a beloved pet’s passing easier, it is heartbreaking for owners—and veterinarians.
Although a veterinarian’s day can sometimes have sad parts—because of a chronic condition or the passing of an animal—most veterinarians absolutely love their jobs. Their education and hard work pays off in ensuring puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats have long, happy lives. The best sight is a joyful, wagging tail walking out the door next to a satisfied owner.
We know bringing your pet into the office for an emergency or surgery can be nerve-wracking, whether you’ve been a pet-parent for a week or 10 years. Thankfully, there are two things your pet has on its side:
- Your vet’s education and experience (Find out more about that here.)
- The ever-improving technology your vet uses to care for your pet
Technology in veterinarian offices has improved and evolved over the last 25 years, making procedures faster and more comfortable for your pet and easier for us to ensure their health.
Here are just a few of the advanced technologies veterinarians throughout the U.S. use to keep animals healthy and happy!
Many humans have heard of MRIs, and many others have even received them, but did you know they’re also used by veterinarians? Formally called magnetic resonance imaging, radio waves and a magnetic field produce the images.
In humans, MRIs are often used to find:
- Artery disease
In dogs and cats, MRIs are most often used for investigating issues with the:
- And more
An MRI is an extremely advanced diagnostic tool. If your pet is suffering from an issue like a spinal cord injury or a brain tumor, an MRI will absolutely help your vet diagnose the issue. Non-invasive and with no ionizing radiation, it is much safer than many other solutions for find out what’s going on in your animal’s body.
Dog MRIs can be expensive, costing up to $1,500 per scan, but if you have pet insurance, it is most likely covered. This does not always include the price of anesthesia.
Since MRI technology is so advanced, it’s not available in every office. If your pet needs an MRI, and your vet doesn’t offer it, they will be able to help you schedule the appointment at a specialty center. At Cinco Ranch Vet, we often refer to Gulf Coast Veterinary Services, as well as Texas A&M.
A CAT (forcomputer axiel tomography)—or CT—scan is another tool familiar to us humans. It’s a diagnostic imaging test similar to the MRI, and in humans it’s often used to discover the cause of a stroke or investigate head injuries. It can also be helpful when looking for issues with blood vessels. For dogs and cats, CAT scans are most commonly used to determine the cause of neurological disorders, like issues walking and seizures.
Using X-ray beams—but more powerful than a conventional X-ray—the vet technician puts dye into the patient’s bloodstream to provide contrast on the CAT scan’s gray scale.
In some cases, after a CAT scan, further investigation is needed, which may include an MRI. Pet owners can expect to pay $500 to $1,200, depending on the extent of the scans plus monitoring and anesthesia.
A CAT scan, like an MRI, may only be available at a specialty practice in your area and might require recommendation from your vet.
For CAT scans, MRIs, spaying and neutering, and surgery on almost any pet, that animal will be put under anesthesia to ensure it doesn’t move or feel pain during the procedure. While most pets do not have reactions to anesthesia, it’s always important to be careful and monitor their vital signs, like any human during surgery. Thanks to improvements in technology, anesthetic monitoring is better than ever!
There are several parts of the monitoring process:
- An electrocardiogram (ECG) can be used to show a patient’s heart rate and rhythm while also detecting any abnormalities that may occur.
- A pulse oxymeter monitors the oxygen levels in your pet’s blood.
- A CO2 monitor checks the CO2 that your pet exhales.
Also watched carefully throughout the procedure are your pet’s:
- Blood pressure
- Pulse rates
The cost of anesthesia depends on:
- The procedure
- The type of animal
- The size of the animal
For most surgeries and diagnostic exams, the anesthesia price will be explained by your vet and added to the cost of the procedure.
Since dog MRIs and MRIs for cats can be quite expensive and not always readily available for use, pet owners have another solution available to them: ultrasounds.
An ultrasound is perfect for investigating your pet’s heart and abdomen. It’s extremely helpful if your pet has swallowed something it shouldn’t have. Fast, inexpensive, and non-invasive, most patients will not even require anesthesia during an ultrasound.
Although ultrasounds are not yet in every veterinarian’s office, they are becoming a popular tool, and many vets are investing in them. Costs can range between $50 and 500, making it a more affordable solution for most pet owners.
If an X-ray does not determine the cause of an issue, we provide ultrasounds in our office by appointment.
3D printing seems to be used for almost everything now, and it’s still evolving. Biological engineers are even looking into its uses for artificial organs!
This technology allows veterinarians to plan ahead when surgery for pets is required. In one case, when a CAT scan didn’t provide enough information for a particular patient at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, professors used a 3D printer to replicate the dog’s effected bones. This allowed the veterinarian to determine a solution ahead of time, rather than during the surgery.
3D printing requires a specialized computer that layers materials into a specific shape. Due to the advanced technology of 3D printing, 3D printers are most often found at veterinary teaching colleges, where they were first used in 2009.
More colleges and more specialty centers are using 3D printers to plan surgeries and look for solutions that may not have been used in the past. Unfortunately, due to the cost, it may be quite a while before a 3D printer is available in your local vet’s office.
At Cinco Ranch Vet, we use FDA-approved laser therapy to decrease the pain associated with surgery and reduce animals’ inflammation. It’s a great treatment post-surgery and provides much-needed relief to dogs and cats with arthritis.
Laser therapy works by calling on the body’s own healing and immune system. Different wavelengths are used for different procedures. Deep tissue treatment, for example, takes only 5 to 10 minutes, but arthritic patients require several sessions.
At Cinco Ranch Vet, we know bringing your cat or dog in for an MRI, an ultrasound, or even a spay or neuter procedure can be stressful; it’s natural to worry! But thanks to advances in technology, our job of taking care of your pet and diagnosing their problems is easier than ever. If you are curious about the technology we use at our practice or our preferred specialists, give us a call, or feel free to ask during your next visit!
The veterinarian who takes care of your furry, slithery, or feathered companion sometimes seem like they were just born knowing everything there is to know about animals and their health. But the truth is, they earned the privilege of caring for your loved one after lots of work and learning.
So what does it actually take to become a veterinarian? Here’s a peak into what’s required!
Children who are seriously interested in vet training usually start working toward it in high school by taking—and often excelling in—courses including:
College and AP (advanced placement) courses during their junior and senior years also help them get a head start on their Bachelors’ degrees.
During high school years, many future vets take up volunteering. Almost every community offers plenty of opportunities to work with animals. The most obvious choice is a local vet’s office, but not all practices accept high school volunteers.
Lots of other places are always looking for volunteers, donations, and extra help:
- Humane societies
- Local pet rescues
- Wildlife rescues
- National parks
- Neighbors (who need dog walking and pet-sitting)
Some organizations even offer internships for college students.
Earning a Bachelor’s Degree
Almost all veterinary schools require applicants to earn a Bachelor’s degree first. While they’re undergraduates, students who want to be veterinarians have to take the pre-requisites for veterinary college, which include more advanced courses in biology, chemistry, math, and physics.
Students are also encouraged to continue to volunteer or intern, since most veterinary colleges like that students have this experience. Some colleges have pre-veterinary clubs on campus, which can help students:
- Pursue career tracks
- Take part in shadowing programs
- Find scholarships
Bachelor’s degrees generally take about four years to earn, and the expense depends on:
- The school
- The courses a student takes
- How many years it takes to complete their required classes
- Whether they’re an in-state or out-of-state student
While most veterinary training colleges require or prefer Bachelor’s degrees, some admit students who have not earned one. Approximately 10% of students do things this way. They can earn an Associate’s degree in animal science or a similar subject and take only the pre-requisite courses without earning a degree. This can save thousands of dollars, but it may not get them into every veterinary college.
Applying to Veterinary School
- A competitive GPA – Students aim for 3.5 or better and work especially hard on pre-requisite courses.
- Letters of Recommendation – Most vet colleges request at least three letters, from:
-An academic adviser
-An established veterinarian
-A professor or someone else the student chooses
- The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) – This is the standardized test for getting into vet colleges.
- Experience – This includes experience in animal work and leadership.
Applications to veterinary school are generally due in the fall of senior year of college, and the process is very competitive. About 7,000 students apply each year, and fewer than 3,000 spots are available, although class sizes increase by about 1.8% every year.
While every future vet should love animals, colleges look for someone with more than that, like a passion for:
- Areas similar to vet medicine
The cost of veterinary school is high. In-state tuition is about $22,500. Out-of-state students pay about $46,000. Veterinarians also tend to graduate with debt—over $130,000 of it.
After completing veterinary school, which is usually four years, students receive their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree. To practice in the United States, they have to take the North American Veterinary Licensing Examination (NAVLE) and the Veterinarian’s Oath. Each state also has its own requirements.
Finding a Job
At this point, the child with a love for animals is officially a veterinarian! What now?
Most veteran veterinarians suggest new vets find an office to intern in before accepting a permanent position. Most colleges help students find the clinics that match their interests, and sometimes students complete their internships while they’re still in school.
Some graduates find positions in small animal clinics; others specialize in larger animals, such as horses or cows; and others work with exotic animals. Other students decide not to work directly with animals but work in related fields, like research. Entry-level veterinarians can expect to make about $67,000.
Many veterinarians ultimately want to open their own practices. To do this, it helps to have experience in business and approximately $1,000,000 in funding.
Choosing to become a veterinarian, like many careers, requires a lot of hard work, long hours, and dedication—along with about eight years of schooling! And, of course, a love for animals. Next time you talk with your vet, you can be sure they put a lot into getting to help your pet. Most vets love to chat about their experience and their extremely rewarding career choice.
If you have questions about your pet’s health or you want to learn more about Dr. Hibler and other Cinco Ranch staff, don’t hesitate to ask! Give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at (281) 693-7387.