The Importance of Being a Jack-Of-All-Trades in the Animal Industry

The Importance of Being a Jack-Of-All-Trades in the Animal Industry The Importance of Being a Jack-Of-All-Trades in the Animal Industry
On August 08, 2016


Give a dog a little flaxseed oil with his food and his coat will shine brightly. Give a dog a pig’s ear and it’s the caloric equivalent of giving a human six cans of soda.

Diet and nutrition is one of the many sections of the companion animal care technology program at Stautzenberger College. The college’s newest program involves several disciplines valued in the animal industry, including grooming, massage, training, basic animal care, nutrition and communication skills.

So how do each of these skillsets come into play in the real world? I sat down with Registered Veterinary Technician and prominent Stautzenberger College instructor Nicole Zitello to discuss the ins and outs of  the program.



In the animal industry, nutrition is an ongoing conversation between clients and companion animal care technicians. Zitello noted that as a Registered Veterinary Technician, pet owners queried her daily on the best diet for their furry friends. By obtaining education in this realm, students will have an understanding of determining the appropriate diet for animals based on age, activity level and overall physical condition. Students will learn what is required, versus what is marketed to the public.

When humans receive a massage, it can increase circulation, decrease inflammation, increase range of motion and decrease blood pressure. It can even serve as an effective treatment for injuries. The same benefits apply to animals who receive massages. In addition to these everyday benefits, this skill can be implemented to prepare and maintain animals for athletic events like dock diving, agility trials or earth dog competitions.

Basic Animal Care
The foundation of animal care begins with terminology and definitions… breeds, anatomy, physiology and more. Specific breeds are prone to certain medical conditions and companion animal care technicians will know what to look for in these pets and will be able to shed some light on what could be causing a problem.

According to Zitello, the likelihood of a shelter animal being adopted increases by 50 percent when groomed. Groomers have the advantage of spending lots of time up close and personal with animals. These animal care technicians bring attention to ear and skin infections, eliminate any painful matting and relieve sores on the skin. Besides, dogs know when they look good and confidence is important for their well-being.

Training & Behavior
In any capacity of working with animals, you’re going to want to ensure that animals listen to you. You want them to be safe, and not run out into the street if given the opportunity. A good ‘stop’ command is crucial. In this learning segment, students will learn the differences between normal and abnormal behavior and how to treat the latter with step-by-step methodology. One such example of an abnormal behavior commonly found in rescued animals is separation anxiety. In this case, pet owners must desensitize triggers to the pet in small steps. ‘Triggers’ being the operative word for putting on shoes, picking up keys, putting on a coat, locking the door and leaving the home. This can mean doing each of these, one at a time, multiple times, and then all at once before the animal is finally accustomed to the owner leaving. A bit time-consuming, but a small price to pay in lieu of an anxious animal or a trashed apartment.

Communication Skills
In addition to the hands-on skills detailed above, students in the ‘CACT’ program will be educated on office tasks as well. Students will learn how to balance the books, keep inventory, staffing a clinic,  as well as business, marketing and entrepreneurship acumen. As Zitello says, “Everybody needs communication skills.”  Customer service skills in this position are imperative, as is the ability to deal with euthanasia and the emotions of clients that come with it.

If you love animals and wish to be a jack-of-all-trades in the animal industry, please reach out to the Brecksville campus for additional information at 440-838-1999.




Kelsey Cullen has been gaining public relations, advertising and marketing experience in the Cleveland-Akron area since 2010. Cullen joined Stautzenberger College as a Community Outreach Coordinator in January 2016. She wears many hats at the school; including admissions, event planning, social media producing and guest speaking in high schools. Cullen is currently engaged to Kevin Kelsey (no that is not a typo) and is an admitted crazy cat mom to Rorschach and Crash.


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