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Main Programs and Courses Health Care Programs Veterinary Health Care Assistant

Veterinary Health Care Assistant

Do you enjoy the company of animals, or particularly pets? The pet care field is a growing industry where an increasing number of people choose pets as a part of their household.


Practical Vet Assistant Courses

Veterinary assistants play an increasingly vital role in assisting veterinarians with day-to-day tasks including surgical preparation, dentistry, diagnostic imaging, and much more.

Reeves College has a 43-week integrated Veterinary Health Care Assistant program that will train you in the skills needed to perform clinical and administrative tasks within a veterinary clinic or hospital.


Learn everything from animal husbandry and nutrition to breeding and breed identification and veterinary office procedures so you can help the vet clinic run smoothly.


Admissions Requirements

All applicants must meet with an admissions representative in addition to ONE of the following criteria:

Standard Admission

  • Alberta high school diploma or equivalent verified by transcript or DAR
  • Provide a CRC/Immunization disclaimer (form provided by the college)


Mature Admission

Students must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years of age prior to admission (19 for out of province)
  • Provide a CRC/Immunization disclaimer (form provided by the college)
  • Successful completion of the Reeves College Admissions Test.

*Manitoba applicants must also have been out of school for one year in addition to the above.




Certifications Received

In addition to your diploma, you will gain industry certifications including:


  • DOGSAFE® Canine First Aid
  • Standard First Aid
  • CPR ‘C’
  • WHMIS 2015
  •  Veterinary Health Care Assistant diploma


Before you graduate, you will also complete a six-week practicum in a real-world veterinary setting to prepare you for your new career.

This program is 43 weeks in length.
  • Veterinary Hospitals
  • Animal Shelters
  • Zoos
  • Pet Products/Supply Stores
Program Courses
SSS4 / Student Success Strategies
Emphasis is placed on thinking about achieving success from day one, and developing the non-technical skills to enhance personal, academic, and career success.
MSWE / Microsoft Word & Excel

This course introduces the Microsoft Office 365 productivity applications Word, Excel and the Windows environment in which they run. It covers the fundamentals of organizing files and folders, drafting business documents and reporting data in spreadsheets. This course relies entirely on practical hands-on activities that allow you to learn the concepts by practicing them regularly and obtaining feedback immediately. 

VA1014 / Mathematics for Veterinary Applications

This one-week course provides applied math skills as they will be needed at the front desk of the veterinary practice, as well as in the clinic area. Students learn to make mathematical and unit conversions with care and attention. At the front desk, the veterinary assistant may need to make business related calculations. Within the clinic, the assistant may be calculating

AHP100 / Veterinary Medical Terminology

Students learn the appropriate medical terminology including abbreviations associated with the body systems as well as the five senses. In addition to furthering the necessary language skills of the veterinary assistant, the course provides the foundation for communication in the areas of anesthesiology, surgery and radiology. In order to be effective in this, the assistant must have the knowledge and use of the correct terminology to communicate with veterinarians, animal health technicians, and other professionals in veterinary services.

AHP101 / Animal Anatomy and Physiology

The veterinary assistant must have a well-grounded command of the language of the profession. This course focuses on that, and relates the anatomy, physiology to diagnosis; common pathology, injuries and treatment.

AB-AHP110 / The Veterinary Profession and Health & Safety Practices

In this core course of the Veterinary Health Care Assistant program, students are guided to an understanding of the veterinary Industry including health and safety factors that must be recognized and respected in any environment that provides animal care services. Facility cleanliness and safety are the most obvious of these. The many other topics in this course include:

  • Educational requirements of veterinary team members and their appropriate responsibilities.
  • An overview of relevant legislation and regulatory organizations is also given.
  • Emergency protocols, biologic, chemical, and physical hazards, fire prevention, and practices that contribute to the health of the animal care worker.

An overview of relevant legislation and regulatory organizations is also given.


Canadian law requires that any person exposed to hazardous materials in the workplace must be trained in the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS). This course has been developed to meet and exceed the Canadian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. WHMIS 2015 training includes the new Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling for chemicals (GHS), as well as WHMIS legislation introduced in 1988.

PD-SFA-CPR / Standard First Aid with CPR ‘C’ and AED

This 2-day course suited for the general public and workplace and meets first aid requirements for Canada Labour Code Standard First Aid, and Licenced Child and Adult Care Facilities. This course is suited for police, first responders, lifeguards, ski patrollers, caring citizens and families with children. 

PD-CFA / DOGSAFE® Canine First Aid - 101

This course is designed to teach you the knowledge and skills to deal with a sick or injured dog until veterinary care is available. What you do between when an injury happens and when veterinary care is available will greatly affect a dog’s chances of a full recovery. The topics are covered in-depth so that students have a thorough understanding of the principles of canine first aid. Since this is a very comprehensive course, the student’s full attention is necessary and dogs do not come to class

AHP120 / Veterinary Office Reception Procedures

This course develops and strengthens interpersonal communications skills that contribute to success in workplace environments. These are essential skills that are practised throughout the course of each day and contribute to the smooth, effective functioning of the animal care practice. Students develop a practical- and vocation-oriented approach to effective and professional communication. In addition to verbal practice, the many communications skills that are addressed here include the use of technology to communicate professionally, careful listening, accurate writing, as well as locating and documenting information. The focus of this course is to give the student the basis on how to present themselves in a professional setting and conduct themselves with appropriate and ethical behavior. The student will learn about the ethical issues and guidelines relevant to the veterinary profession and how to resolve disagreements that may arise due to ethical belief.

The student will also learn how to resolve conflict in the workplace, handle complaints and deal with the destructive nature of work place gossip and bullying. Students will be assigned tasks to create marketing materials for a veterinary business and client education.

VA1256 / Breed Identification and Breeding

This course provides the foundational knowledge for students to be able to identify the various breeds of cats and dogs. Additionally, it provides an overview of how breeding happens in animal breeding environments: consideration of all factors and procedures that will produce a genetically healthy and well-conformed animal that represents the best standard of the breed.

AHP170 / – Basics of Animal Behaviour and Restraint

One of the foundations of the successful veterinary clinic is employees who are able to manage a variety of tasks that are associated with the requirements of a number of breeds and species. This must be done in ways that are both effective and safe. The course focuses upon the types of animal behaviour for common species, common animal behaviour problems, and the potential for behaviour counseling to address the problems. Students begin an understanding of an animal’s territorial behaviour, its aggressive and defensive behaviours, as well as social and reproductive behaviours. During this course, students observe and understand animal behaviours to ensure the effectiveness of animal care and safety for facility staff as well as the animals. Good quality skills in animal handling and restraint promote safety for the animal care professional and equally important, reduces the level of stress for the animal patient. The student will learn the handling, restraint and transport of dogs, cats and other small animals with the emphasis on personal safety and for the purpose of recognizing and preventing aggression. Students will come to understand the types of restraint including verbal, physical, leash and other methods. Learn why the least restraint is sometimes the best restraint, and why the goal of restraint is to maintain control of the animal

Note: Hands-on practice may be introduced during this course. Lab times and days may vary from normal classroom hours.

AB-VA1005 / Animal Nursing and Clinical Care I

As integral members of the nursing team, assistants provide quality compassionate care while providing basic nursing skills, including documenting medical history, performing therapeutic bathing and grooming, cleaning and disinfecting kennels and cages, and recognizing normal and abnormal small animal behaviour. Included in the basics is the understanding of how various practices will operate in practicum and work: taking the medical history; determining and recording the vital signs; and conducting the physical examination. Students learn about blood pressure and its monitoring, TPRs [temperature, pulse, and respiration], medication administration, ear and eye cleaning and treatments, syringe feeding, animal husbandry, patient observation, and kennel care. The basics of observation and interpretation are a large component of this course. Quality grooming skills is an important contribution that the veterinary assistant makes to the animal care clinic and it promotes the health and comfort of the animal. Basic grooming refers to such procedures as bathing, brushing, applying non-therapeutic leg and tail wraps, de-matting, , shaving, and trimming nails.

AB-AHP180 / Animal Husbandry and Nutrition

Animal nutrition is an integral part of veterinary medicine. In this course, students will learn about the connections between illness, disease and nutrition. As part of the veterinary team, the assistant must be knowledgeable about healthy pet nutrition, specific dietary requirements, and recovering patient nutrition. The veterinary assistant must understand the principles of nutrition for the small animal’s life stages, the importance of good nutrition, and the major nutrient components of the list of ingredients. Students learn to communicate basic nutritional and nutritional life-stage counselling, as well as methods of feeding and the link between nutrition and therapy

AHP220 / Veterinary Office Reception Procedures II

The focus of this one-week course is the proper handling of client records to ensure accurate and efficient billing of services, records management, and ultimately, the success of the business due to proper patient care. Students acquire knowledge and understanding in many skill areas, largely focused on the administrative front end of the practice. This includes reception, appointment scheduling and correspondence, medical and financial procedures and record keeping. The veterinary assistant sometimes requires some measures of grief management; the student will be coached on the core skills required at particularly difficult times. The course provides guidance in ways that the veterinary assistant can manage the difficult client and provide counseling to clients who experience the loss of a pet.

AB-VA2005 / Animal Nursing and Clinical Care II

This course provides an advanced focus on nursing care and emergency protocols in clinical settings. Basics of emergency monitoring are also covered in this course; protocols often involve wound management (learning about triage and emergency readiness, common emergency preparations, chemical/physical disorders, types of wounds, including caring and healing). Students will further their knowledge of bandages, casts, and slings; use of fluid of therapy; and other vital therapeutic techniques generally performed in veterinary settings.

VA2204 / Veterinary Dentistry

This course focuses on developing skills to assist in dentistry. Students will become familiar with the anatomy and basic terminology pertaining to the oral cavity. Students will learn basic dental pathology, prevention and treatment options.

VA3504 / Diagnostic Imaging

Various equipment and tools are using in diagnosing various illnesses and injuries in animals. Students learn the various types of diagnostic imaging occurring in the profession, including the basic procedures and practice with x-ray equipment, ultrasonography, MRIs, and others. The radiological component focuses on methods and positioning for taking x-rays, the chemicals used to develop images.

AB-AHP280 / Veterinary Pharmacology and Pharmacy

This course focuses on the safe handling and organization of pharmaceutical products, an indispensable function of the veterinary clinic. Students are introduced to the organization of a pharmacy and its inventory maintenance. Students become familiar with the terminology associated with common veterinary pharmaceuticals, the classifications of drugs, indications and contra-indications, and routes of administration. It is important that students are able to identify accurate information, perform logistical services, and to practice safe hazardous waste and biomedical protocols.

AB-AHP251 / Surgical Preparation and Assisting

This course is focused on the surgery unit in the veterinary clinic or hospital. Students learn patient preparation, support anesthetic monitoring, and nursing care in the surgical environment. Students also acquire knowledge of operating room sanitation and care, including: autoclave operation, instrument sterilization, and how to position patients. Students develop knowledge of instrument identification, including: gloving, aseptic prepping of the surgeon. Veterinary anesthesia, including sedation, induction, maintenance, and monitoring is also included. A field trip to a surgical facility is an important element of this course.

AHP252 / Clinical Laboratory Procedures

This course is focused on the laboratory located either in the veterinary clinic or other specialized labs. The course includes instruction for the safe handling and preparation of biological samples for laboratory analysis by the technician or veterinarian. A field trip to an animal diagnostic lab may be given to enhance students’ learning.

VA2026 / Pathology, Wellness, and Preventative Medicine

This course describes the pathology practiced in veterinary medicine, allowing students to recognize the common diseases and conditions inflicted upon pets and other animals. Students also are shown how to recognize these conditions, including comparative study with healthy animals and distinguishing them from the unhealthy. Client education and animal wellness programs are also discussed and students are given assignments to develop programs and literature. During this course, students will learn some of the causes of illness and disease, clinical signs, their treatment, and prevention. In addition, students are taught to identify the different types of vaccines and to understand the need for vaccine schedules. The course also introduces the causes of illness and disease. It explores the differentiation among bacteria, viruses, protozoa and fungi – as well as the modes of disease transmission.

VA3404 / Parasitology

This course emphasizes the most common parasites and other internal/external viruses and bacteria. Students identify various specimens both using diagrams and under a microscope.

AWP300 / Animal Welfare Practices

Issues surrounding animal abuse are addressed in this course. Field trips to animal shelters and refuges will enhance understanding for the student. Guest speakers may also be utilized to present content on food and nutrition and other animal care products. Community events such as nutrition education information sessions for the public and pet visitation activities to various groups may also occur during this course. Topics surrounding alternative and complementary medicine will also be introduced, such as acupuncture, herbology, and aromatherapy.

CES4 / Career and Employment Strategies

This course builds on the skills learned in the Student Success Strategies course or its equivalent. It provides information on how to use the communication skills learned in order to make a successful presentation to a prospective employer. Students also learn how to uncover the hidden job market and identify employment opportunities. Self-assessment during this course allows students to identify their personal skills that are transferable to the workplace and to describe these skills to a prospective employer. Students may be videotaped during a mock interview and will participate in the analysis of their performance in the “interview”.

AB-AHP199 / Veterinary Practice Education

Following completion of all of the classroom courses in the program, the student is ready to complete the program in a veterinary environment. This practicum course allows the veterinary sciences profession to confirm the skills and competencies of the student.

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