Kelowna Women in Business: Veterinarians never stop learning

Giving something back is a lifestyle choice that West Kelowna veterinarian Dr. Noa Oz has followed throughout her life.

It started as a teenager allowing her passion for animals that led her to volunteer at a local vet’s office while growing up in Tel Aviv, Israel.

It is an opportunity that she and her husband, fellow vet Dr. Moshe Oz, continue to this day at their Rose Valley veterinary clinic.

And being veterinarians has sometimes meant stepping up to help animals in distress, injured and abandoned by their owners, without any financial remuneration

“We want to be a part of our community, and as immigrants to Canada we want to show our gratitude and our love for our country and help as much as we can,” Oz said.

In providing an example for others to follow, Oz recalls as a child how veterinarians she volunteered with helped her to pursue her dream to become a vet herself.

“It was always clear to me that is what I wanted to do. People opened doors for me and I learned about what being a veterinarian is all about.

“So now I try to help people who may want to achieve that same dream, or even to gain some insight that might show them this is not the kind of profession they want to pursue.”

Oz said while there has been an unexplained growth among women studying to be a vet in recent years, but she says the path to becoming a vet is academically challenging for anyone.

Oz graduated from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Slovakia in 2004 and her speciality is in surgery. Her husband tends to deal one-on-one with owners and their pets, and her focus is on carrying out surgical procedures.

“That is my passion and my forte, “ she says about performing surgeries.

She said one difference between vets and medical doctors is that veterinary medicine isn’t a specialty.

“Veterinary medicine is such a broad subject. In human medicine, like if you have a heart issue, you are referred to a cardiologist. As vets, we have to deal with all health issues that animals face so it takes a lot of schooling and constant reading to upgrade your knowledge,” she said.

“For every animal, there are breed specific viruses you have to know about, and sometimes even with the same animal group, different breed have different issues. So you have to constantly learn and stay on top of it all.”

She says while a passion of animals often leads people to consider becoming a vet, she discovered early on in her schooling that you also have to love being a doctor, dealing with animals in the same way a medical doctor deals with patients.

And the academics are challenging—four years of pre-med followed by four years of veterinary medicine.

Oz says one of the bigger challenges for any vet to figure out what is ailing a dog or cat, or even diagnosing that problem might exist, is that felines and canines are true survivors—they adapt to their health issues and can hide them until the problem becomes too advanced to correct.

“For pet owners, when you see your pet everyday, you sometimes don’t notice a change in their routine. Sometimes there isn’t even anything you notice. That’s why we always encourage regular vet checkups. Other than weight loss, it can be hard to notice a problem is developing initially,” she said.

“But as well, I find being a vet is different from a human doctor in that a cat or dog doesn’t know how to fake pain.

“They don’t have psychological symptoms that a vet needs to understand. If something is painful to them, it is painful. It is real.”

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