A day in the life of a vet

A day in the life of a veterinarian Charlotte

So I’ve wanted to be a vet my whole life because your work revolves around animals. I mean, how great is that! But I don’t actually know how the life of a vet looks like. Well, except for Dr. Pol on National Geographic. Am I the only one checking this show out? 🤓 Anyway, veterinarian Charlotte works at De Vroente in Schoten, and owner of LÈS Antwerp, explained us in the first episode of the Dogs of Antwerpen Podcast what it means to be a vet, and what are the upsides and downsides. Check it out the blogpost ‘A day in the life of veterinarian Charlotte ‘!

She talks about piss and dog sh*t like it’s nothing, and explains what she experienced in South Africa, and why she sometimes just wants to sleep in the weekends. Triggered? 🤓 Yeah, so was I! 😉

From Belgium, to South-Africa to Schoten

Charlotte graduated as a veterinarian in 2016 at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Gent. Afterwards she left Belgium for a couple of months to enjoy the warm and sunny days in South Africa practising her skills with exotic animals like monkeys and elephants. Using drones they tracked down animals who were sick, darted them and made sure they received the proper treatment before releasing them back into the wild.

This experience was one of a lifetime which Charlotte cherishes to this day! How many vets can say they experienced this, right?

dierenarts charlotte

After this experience she found her way back to Belgium and after gaining some experience as a vet in Belgium, she now works at De Vroente in Schoten for almost 4 years. De Vroente has of course a lot of experience with treating dogs, 

cats and rodents, but is also specialised in reptiles. So if your dog has a cold blooded friend, you know where to go!


Veterinary school

Wanting to be a vet must come from a passion, you’ll experience this right away. Charlotte explains she’s had more ‘slumber parties’ at vet school taking care of sick animals during the night, than parties she had with friends going out in Ghent. Becoming a vet takes dedication and hard work. So if you’re ready to take on this commitment (and skip parties 😉), you’ll get rewarded by being able to do your dream job!

It’s no 9-5 at all

As you’ve probably guessed by reading the previous paragraph, being a vet is no 9 to 5 job at all. No day is the same! When waking up, you don’t know that a few hours later you might be doing an emergency operation on a dog because his ball got stuck in his throat (yes, this happend)! 

Did you know?

When buying toys for your dog, like a ball, make sure it’s large enough so your dog can’t swallow it or choke in it. When playing ball, situations like this can happen but you’ll drastically reduce the risk of this happening when your dogs mouth is smaller than the toy he’s playing with.

Normally Charlotte starts at 9 in the morning and ends her day at 7 in the evening. But it’s actually always a guess when she’ll be arriving home in the evening and if she’ll receive emergency calls during the night.

At 9 am Charlotte starts by handling the planned consultations and vaccinations. Lot’s of them involve helping animals who don’t feel their best and suffer from vomiting or diarrhea. Being a vet is not the most glamorous job in the world since you’ll have to deal with a lot of animal urine, animal feces, barfing and more. As you can tell, being a veterinarian should be a calling! Not just a job! 😉 

Charlotte continues her day by doing the planned surgeries. This involves preparing the animals by checking their vitals and age. This is important because a young animal will receive a different kind of anaesthesia than an animal that is older. When the first checks have been done, Charlotte continues with the surgery. 

911 what’s your emergency?

As you’ve probably could’ve guessed by now, no days can be completely planned in the life of a vet. Charlotte explains they’ll receive emergency calls throughout the day (and night!), and thus also when they’re operating. That’s why she loves to work with her colleague so one vet can do the surgery while the other can take on emergency calls and treatments. You can’t just drop everything during a surgery because you receive an emergency call, right? The animal you’re working on is fast asleep and you have to make sure you can keep on operating in a calmly manner to make sure the animal gets the best care you can possible offer. 

After that surgery is done, Charlotte helps her colleague with the emergencies and in no time your day is going completely different from what you had planned.

As a pet owner, we can’t time when our dog is going to get sick. It would be nice if they could time it from Monday to Friday during working hours, but it just doesn’t work like that. And Charlotte completely understands that. As a dog owner herself she’s experienced it recently with her dog Casper being sick. Your dog is your baby (I know some dog trainers don’t like to hear it, but there, I said it!) and you just want the best and fastest help possible. 

When to call your vet?

So you might be wondering now when to call your vet if you have a situation with your dog. You don’t want to over react, but you don’t want to under react either. 

First of all, it’s important to be able to define if the situation is an emergency or not. But how do you define this? Start with NOT PANICKING. As I mentioned above, it might be difficult for a dog owner to stay calm since it’s your baby we’re talking about. But, panicking won’t do you any good. On the contrary even! 

Clinical check

Is your dog feeling a bit under the weather? Just keep an eye on him/her. Does he has a tiny lump? That’s not an emergency. Make an appointment (during working hours 😉) at the vet. Is your dog limping? Check his paws yourself, check his joints, … Is he not reacting by your touch? It’s not an emergency, make an appointment. Do you think he ate something bad, but you’re not sure? That’s not an emergency, just keep an eye on your dog. Check his color (by checking his gums, it needs to be soft pink), his energy levels, his appetite, …  and call your vet in the morning.

But! If you have the slightest feeling or idea that your dog needs immediate help, call your vet asap. I’m talking about a dog fight, your dog got hit by a car, he’s loosing a lot of blood by vomiting or because of heavy diarrhea, etc. You’d rather be safe than sorry. 

It’s the weekend and my dog is sick. What now?

Veterinarians are closed in the weekends but luckily there is always a veterinarian “on duty”. It’s the same with doctors and pharmacies (for people). So no worries, you’ll always be able to get in touch with a veterinarian. It just might not be your vet who is on duty that weekend. So keep that in mind.

It’s not all puppies and sunshine (literally and figuratively)

Most days are great! You get to see all kinds of different animals, playing with lizards and puppies, and getting to meet the dog owners who sometimes become good friends. Every day is different and dynamic so it’ll never get boring! It’s amazing to see animals who were sick or who needed emergency surgery walking out the door being their happy selves like nothing ever happened (this is truly the power of dogs! Humans would we wrecked for weeks). 😅

But unfortunately it doesn’t always work out well. Some days are hard because you had to let a dog go after an emergency intervention, or other animals who you have cared for for several years passed away. And that sucks! Even if you don’t want it, as a vet you take this sadness back home and you too, as a veterinarian, need to grief and need to give this a place. And at some point, you have to let this go because before you know it another emergency is standing at your doorstep and you have to give this situation all of your attention. And that can be hard! 

The tail wags and licks are what makes the job amazing!

Do you now think “Holly sh*t, this is heavy stuff!”? Yes, you’re right. But it’s also an amazing job! As a veterinarian you get to change peoples lives, and the lives of animals (ofcourse), every single day! And truly, how many people can say this about their job? 

And the most rewarding part of being a vet is seeing those tails wag and getting dog kisses all day long! It might be huffing and puffing from time to time, but seeing your efforts paid off when that dog is walking happily as ever out the door, that’s what matters the most and what you’ll remember at the end of the day! 

I hope you enjoyed this insight into the life of veterinarian Charlotte. And next time you see your vet, remember he/she might have had a rough night with emergencies so be gentle and remember to thank him/her! They are literally life savers! 

Jowkes, Ciaokes, (b)aaikes!

Jill Cools
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