Veterinary Equipment: What’s Needed for a New Practice

It can be difficult to ensure you have everything set up before you start taking on patients. Or worse, you don’t have the type of equipment a buyer is looking for when they’re ready to make an offer.

The type of veterinary equipment you need may also depend on your clinic’s focus. This guide will help you better understand the scope of your startup’s needs when you’re buying or starting your first veterinary practice and provide a checklist for owners looking to list their practice on the market as a fully furnished clinic.

What Equipment Do You Need for a Veterinary Clinic?

Furnishing a new veterinary clinic can be difficult, especially if you’ve only worked in one area of a practice or are first starting your career.

Unfortunately, veterinary practices use a lot of the same medical equipment that you might see in a regular hospital, such as x-ray machines and IV drips. Other equipment might be specialized for certain types or sizes of animal species, which can make veterinary equipment an expensive investment. (1)

Adapting equipment used in human medicine or in companion animal veterinary practice is an ongoing part of daily operations […]”

– Huffpost.com

For the frugal practice owner, finding secondhand or discounted equipment is the first way to lower costs. This is a common way to reduce some of the financial burden when starting a new practice, however, it is still important that the clinic is outfitted with all the necessary equipment.

Exam and Procedure Tables

Most clinics provide an array of these tables, allowing the veterinarian to assess the animal’s health and interact with them on an easy height from standing. Most procedure tables are adjustable, allowing you to adjust the height of the table to accommodate the size of the animal. These tables are often rated for a certain weight, but exam tables are built to be sturdy and domestic animals often range well below these weight limits.

Lighting

Lighting is an essential component to any exam room or surgical equipment. Ceiling lights are the primary source of light, providing a bright, evenly lit surface. Small adjustable or handheld lights are also ideal to have available as well in circumstances where overhead lighting is not enough.

Digital X-Ray Imaging Machines

These machines come in a variety of sizes to support localized or full-body x-ray imaging, allowing staff to identify broken bones, foreign objects, obstructions, and many other aspects of an animal’s internal systems. This machinery is critical in providing the right kind of care when addressing injuries or potential issues discovered in the physical exam.

Veterinary Ultrasounds

While similar to an x-ray imaging machine, this equipment utilizes petroleum jelly and a specialized handheld wand – rather than scanning machinery – to provide ultrasound results for the veterinarian. This equipment is most often used in identifying tumors, cysts, or other masses within the internal organs such as offspring in pregnant animals.

This equipment might not be necessary in smaller clinics that don’t offer surgical procedures, but it is in common enough use alongside x-ray machinery that it can reduce patient wait time and improve quality of care immensely.

Anesthesia Machines

For clinics who provide even the most basic surgical procedures, an anesthesia machine is one of the primary and first things the clinic will need to invest in. Accurate, reliable anesthesia dosing based on the animal’s weight is critical in providing a safe surgical experience for the patient and owner.

The machine must be able to accommodate patients of all sizes; clinics that take on larger patients, such as livestock, may need separate equipment to accommodate the larger size beyond average domestic animals and wildlife.

IV Pumps

This equipment is necessary in both routine visits and more involved procedures, whether your staff needs to administer intravenous medication to a patient, or ensure they are kept hydrated throughout the visit. An IV pump will allow you to provide these fluids in a way that is easy for the technician to insert and prevents unnecessary stress on the animal.

Autoclaves and Sterilizers

Critical for any part of the veterinary process, autoclaves and sterilizers allow surgical and exam tools to be quickly and thoroughly sanitized. These tools are often sanitized in bulk, allowing faster turnover of the equipment and reducing patient wait times.

This is especially important when sanitizing surgical equipment, as it must be sterilized after use and any kind of surgery is a time sensitive procedure.

Weighing Scales

Most clinics have multiple areas where they can weigh their patients. Some scales will support weighing the animal inside a crate, while others will require them to swaddle the animal or coax them into standing on the plate.

Scales are an essential component to any visit, allowing the vet to estimate the animal’s weight on any given day, which can change prescription doses and official recommendations for any species.

Microscopes

Most pets will require a hair, urine, skin, or fecal sample even during basic, routine exams. To identify potential issues with these samples, it’s essential to have a variety of microscopes on hand for easy and detailed analysis.

At minimum, one microscope will be necessary for the clinic, but this will slow down the rate in which you can identify samples and increase wait time. More microscopes will allow you to provide better and faster patient care.

Tools for Basic Consultations

A basic consultation requires a variety of tools placed in easy, accessible areas around the exam room. Things like exam gloves, temperature thermometers, stethoscopes and a blood pressure monitor will be necessary.

Essential furnishings for the exam room include a sharps container, trash can, and sink.

Smaller disposable items like cotton swabs, tongue depressers, thermometer covers, and pill pocket treats are also essential to basic consultations in the exam room.

Tools for Surgical Operations

Invasive surgical operations are common to handle in-house, though some veterinary clinics don’t have the equipment or staff necessary to provide these services and instead choose to outsource to a larger clinic that does.

For clinics that do support these services, however, it is essential that the surgical room is well-stocked with room for multiples of sterilized equipment. Clamps, needle holders, forceps, scissors, scalpels and surgical towels are all essential tools for the surgeon.

Treats and Medications

While medications might require approval for stocking, certain over the counter items are a necessity in exam rooms and during procedures, such as saline solution.

Treats are often overlooked in the first round of furnishing a veterinary practice, but are essential in calming down pets while they are in the exam room and in rewarding good behavior.

What Do Veterinarians Wear?

Many veterinarians wear casual medical scrubs that are easy to move around in and aren’t restrictive of their range of motion. This material is easy to wash and keep clean and should fit relatively loosely to accommodate movement necessary to work with animals, large and small.

It is a good idea to keep spare scrubs in the veterinary office if a veterinarian or vet tech forgets their scrubs at home, or if they need to change into a clean pair of scrubs in the middle of the workday which can happen if bodily fluids like urine or feces come in contact with the material.

These backup scrubs ensure that your entire staff is both protected and presentable to clientele between visits and during visits.

How Much Does Veterinary Equipment Cost?

The total cost to furnish a clinic with veterinary equipment depends on the type of equipment and the size of the clinic.

On average, however, a small clinic can range anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000 in costs to completely furnish from start to finish, with all basic exam and medical equipment, as well as waiting room furniture and receptionist computer systems.

Mobile veterinary clinics often range around $250,000 in costs to furnish, as no waiting room furniture is necessary and there is less space in the clinic for larger pieces of equipment, so all exam and medical equipment is often compact and available in a single room.

Veterinary Equipment Packages

Manufacturer liquidation sales are an excellent way to find equipment packages. Alternatively, closing clinics may offer closeout sales to new practice owners who are looking for bundled deals and discounts.

These packages are worth looking out for when stocking a new clinic, as they often include standard equipment for one or two rooms of the office, depending on the circumstances, and are less expensive than furnishing an entire clinic by purchasing individual equipment.

For most clinic owners, however, buying a pre-existing business that already has the equipment furnished is the best way to become a practice owner. Pre-existing businesses will also have a proven track record of success, making it easier to apply for loans and financing, as well as a pre-existing client list.

Thinking about buying or selling your veterinary practice? Talk to the team at BSF today to find the right deals local to you today.

Using Pre-Owned Equipment

The idea of using pre-owned equipment might not sound like an ideal opportunity for a lot of practice owners, but there are quite a few ways to use pre-owned equipment without sacrificing quality of reliability.

For example, manufacturers may be looking to liquidate stock once the machinery is updated, or other practice owners may be looking to get rid of old equipment once they upgrade. These are excellent opportunities for the new practice owner to snag quality equipment in like-new or lightly used conditions at a fraction of the cost.

This allows you to start the practice with the right equipment and update the machinery later once the business is getting profit.