Meet Nikki, the founder of the Canine Health Nut
My name is Nikki, and I am a Registered Veterinary Technician in Southern California. My journey to working with animals started early – growing up we had many different animals – cats, lizards, rabbits, toads, birds – and we visited places like the Zoo often. I always knew I wanted to work with them, but until I was in school for my Biology degree I never knew exactly WHAT I wanted to do. While in school I pet-sat for several non-profits, fostered pets, and volunteered. I also worked two jobs – one as a Wildlife Technician at a local Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility, and one as a Kennel Technician at a All-In-One Boarding/Training/Veterinary Facility. After six years of school I finally graduated with my AS in Animal Science, and a BS in Biology. And I landed my first job in a small animal hospital near my home. In that first year I found my passion within the small animal field – nutrition. I saw the magic of how changing a pet’s diet resolves different chronic medical conditions. I also saw the frustration that pet parents have trying to figure out what diet is best for their pet. So I created “The Canine Health Nut” to help pet parents make that decision with confidence.
What made you decide to become a registered veterinary technician?
Well – funny story – I was going to be a Zoo Keeper, and I was working in a wildlife facility as a Technician. My boss at the time who had been a Keeper looked at me one day and said “ Nikki you are too smart and to be just a keeper, you should look into the veterinary field. “ So I did, and I ended up going back to school to be a Technician instead. And then I married, I graduated, and we adopted two rescue pups. My one rescue pup had pretty bad chronic vomiting and diarrhea (due to very mild pancreatitis) that went unsolved for almost a year (though it did improve as I switched his food and learned more about nutrition). I immersed myself in different CE related to nutrition, both RACE approved and not. Through all my research, along with trial and error I eventually found a diet that worked for him. He has been resolved for years now.
What do you love most about being a registered veterinary technician?
I love being the one to educate pet owners and help guide them through making decisions concerning the health of their pets. I have the heart of a teacher, and I love explaining and sharing my knowledge with others. Course – I also find ear cleanings, dental cleanings and wound care oddly satisfying.
What do you least like about being a registered veterinary technician?
There are two aspects of veterinary medicine that I am not fond of. The first is the feeling of being “helpless” in certain situations. When there is literally nothing we can do as a professional, we’ve tried all the options and there is nothing else. Especially with terminal conditions. The other aspect I find frustrating is financial constraints. I feel like in human medicine you aren’t constrained by your patient’s finances for your recommendations, but in veterinary medicine you have to offer less than “ideal” plans, and have the owner choose which they prefer for their pet, not just by what is best, but by their pocket book.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about becoming a veterinary technician?
Make sure you know what you are getting into. Research the pay, and try to get internships or volunteer in a hospital prior to making the jump into the field. I’ve seen so many people either not understand how much poop we pick up, or not understand the stress of being in a medical field. Unlike in they human medical field, the veterinary field is largely a thankless job. You get cuddles, but rarely does someone actually tell you “thank you” for something you have done.
I would also advise you to never stay in a toxic environment. If something doesn’t align with you – be it a person, or a set of rules. Find another hospital to work at.
Age: 7yrs in July
Personality: He is a bit of a Mammas boy. He might sleep in my bed, and give me more cuddles than anyone else. He is pretty protective – and lets me know when anyone is approaching.
Additional Information: Adopted from Humane Society at around 5m of age.
Age: 7yrs in September
Personality: Super high-energy, with a bit of anxiety. Take him for a walk and he’s your best friend, but he takes awhile to warm up to people otherwise.
Additional Information: He has mild Pancreatitis that flares on certain diets.