Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Units: 4
Hours: 3 lecture, 3 laboratory per week (72 total per quarter)
Prerequisite: V T 83.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Non-GE
Transferable: CSU
Grade Type: Letter Grade Only
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Recognize and articulate the common history and clinical signs of common veterinary emergency conditions.
  • Quickly and competently assess an emergency/critical care patient and perform effective triage.
  • Choose from among a set of relevant sample case studies, review the clinical case and develop a written Nursing Care Plan for the patient.
  • Describe the effects of shock and discuss the pathophysiology of different types of shock in the veterinary patient.


Theoretical and practical aspects of assisting the veterinarian in the management of medical and traumatic emergencies. Recognition and assessment of cardiovascular shock, respiratory crisis, gastrointestinal emergency, and musculoskeletal trauma. Principles and techniques of fluid therapy and administration of emergency drugs. Application of treatment protocols for shock, cardiopulmonary arrest, gastrointestinal crisis, wounds and fractures, toxicoses, and dystocia. Nutrition of critical care patients. Maintenance of emergency medical equipment and supplies. Intended for students in the Veterinary Technology Program; enrollment is limited to students accepted in the program.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. Discuss the role of the veterinary technician in the care of emergency patients, including: initial patient assessment, application of diagnostic and therapeutic techniques, monitoring of patient condition, and care and maintenance of emergency equipment.
B. Describe the physiological mechanisms and effects of shock, and discuss the rationale of current treatment protocols.
C. List ways to recognize cardiopulmonary arrest and demonstrate techniques for cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
D. Demonstrate proper techniques of insertion and maintenance of intravenous catheters and tubes in dogs, cats, and correctly determine intravenous fluid administration.
E. Compare and contrast the pharmacological actions, indications, and methods of administration of various common emergency drugs.
F. Obtain an electrocardiogram, and recognize common critical cardiac arrhythmias and their treatment.
G. Discuss and demonstrate the recognition and treatment of respiratory emergencies, including: administration of oxygen therapy and assisted ventilation, and the maintenance of thoracic tubes, tracheostomy tubes, and nasal catheters.
H. Identify the events and phases of normal wound healing, and discuss the principles of wound therapy.
I. Describe the general principles and techniques of bandaging, casting, and splinting, and demonstrate the proper application of common bandages, splints, and casts on small animals and horses.
J. Recognize and discuss appropriate interventions and management of toxicities.
K. Discuss the recognition and treatment of gastrointestinal emergencies, including: gastric dilatation/volvulus complex, acute gastroenteritis, toxicoses, and equine colic.
L. Compare and contrast normal parturition patterns, dystocia, Caesarian section, and eclampsia.
M. Discuss principles and techniques of nutritional management of critical care patients.
N. Discuss neurological emergencies.
O. Discuss ocular emergencies.
P. Work eight hours at selected veterinary emergency clinics and prepare a case report on an emergency/critical care case observed.

Course Content

A. Role of the veterinary technician in emergency situations
1. Nature of veterinary emergencies and common examples
2. Initial patient assessment and recognition of emergencies
3. Monitoring of patient condition during and after treatment
4. Maintenance of medical records
5. Physical examination of the emergency patient
a. The art of triage: assessment and prioritization
b. Common problems requiring immediate treatment
c. Primary and secondary survey of patient
6. Care and maintenance of emergency equipment and supplies
B. Shock
1. Definition, clinical signs, recognition, patient assessment
2. Causes of and classification of shock
3. Physiological mechanisms and consequences of shock
4. Treatment techniques: stabilization
C. Cardiopulmonary arrest and resuscitation
1. Recognition and initial steps
2. Airway, breathing, circulation
3. Application of technique
4. Assessment of success
5. Advanced life support
6. Post-resuscitation care and monitoring
D. Intravenous catheters, tubes, administration of medications, and IV fluids
1. Placement and maintenance of IV catheters
a. Peripheral
b. Central
c. Intraosseous
2. Tube placement and maintenance
a. Orogastric
b. Nasogastric
c. Pharyngostomy
d. Gastrostomy
3. Administration of medications
a. SQ, IM, IV, intratracheal, intraosseous
4. Fluid therapy
a. Distribution/fluid compartments
b. Important electrolytes, cells, proteins, acid-base balance
c. Specific fluid and electrolyte imbalances: causes and consequences
d. Principles of fluid therapy
e. Types, routes, and rates
E. Emergency drugs
1. Drugs used in basic and advanced life support
2. Antidotes and reversal agents
3. Neurologic
4. Cardiovascular
5. Pulmonary
6. Renal
7. Gastrointestinal
F. Electrocardiography
1. Principles and techniques of obtaining an ECG
2. Recognition and treatment of common critical cardiac arrhythmias
G. Respiratory emergencies
1. Clinical signs and recognition
2. Oxygen therapy and assisted ventilation
3. Treatment of specific respiratory emergencies
4. Thoracocentesis and chest drains
5. Care of tracheostomy tubes, nasal catheters and chest tubes
6. Assisted ventilation
H. Wound healing
1. Normal events and phases
2. "First aid"; lavage principles and techniques
3. Antiseptics and dressings
I. Bandages, splints, and casts
1. General principles and indications for bandaging or splinting
2. Types of bandages, slings, splints, and the indications for their use
3. Techniques of application of bandages, slings, and splints
J. Recognition and treatment of toxicities
1. Dermal toxicants
2. Ingested toxicants
3. Inhaled toxicants
4. Venomous insects and animals
K. Gastrointestinal emergencies
1. Clinical signs and recognition
2. Gastric dilatation/volvulus complex
3. Acute gastroenteritis
4. Acute pancreatitis
5. Equine colic
L. Parturition and dystocia
1. Normal parturition parameters in the dog, cat, horse
2. Causes of and recognition of dystocia
3. Obstetrical manipulations and Caesarian section
4. Eclampsia and "milk fever"
M. Nutrition of the critical care patient
1. Review of resting energy requirement
2. Hypermetabolic states
3. Routes and techniques for nutritional support
a. Oral
b. Gastrostomy
c. Jejunostomy
d. Parenteral
N. Neurological emergencies
1. Seizure
3. Paresis and paralysis
4. Vestibular disorders
O. Ocular emergencies
1. Ulcer
2. Foreign body
3. Proptosed eye
4. Uveitis
5. Glaucoma
P. Emergency clinic shifts
1. Two shifts, four hours each
2. Case report

Lab Content

A. Basic aspects of emergency medicine and critical care:
1. patient assessment
2. triage
3. basic and advanced vascular access
4. airway access
5. cardiopulmonary assessment and treatments
6. monitoring
7. fluids
8. blood products
9. nutritional support
10. casts and splints
11. bandaging
B. Competency evaluation of skills required by AVMA-CVTEA

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

Live dogs, cats, and horses, and housing and handling facilities. Laboratory equipped with anesthetic machine, cardiac and blood pressure monitors, infusion pumps, ECG machine, AMBU bag, mechanical ventilator, intravenous catheters, bandaging material and splints, canine and feline resuscitation models, blood typing supplies. Crash cart with current drugs. Endotracheal tubes. Mock pharmacy with expired drugs.

Method(s) of Evaluation

A. Written examinations.
B. Written emergency case report.
C. Observation of proficiency in performance of techniques in laboratory setting, which may include role play scenarios.
D. Five-page written term paper on an emergency topic of their choice.
E. Written short answer essay questions.
F. Student will demonstrate proficiency in performance of emergency skills as defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities.

Method(s) of Instruction

Lecture, discussion, cooperative learning exercises, independent study, laboratory.

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Battaglia, Andrea M. Small Animal Emergency and Critical Care: A Manual for Veterinary Technicians. 3rd ed. Missouri: Saunders, 2015.


Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. Weekly reading assignments from text, class handouts, and outside sources ranging from 30 to 60 pages per week.

B. Written short answer essay questions, one written case study.

C. Eight hours of off-site observation of an emergency clinic and a follow-up report of cases witnessed.



Registered Veterinary Technician