A veterinary specialist is a doctor who has completed advanced training in a specific area of veterinary practice. The usual path to becoming a veterinarian involves attending college and then four years of veterinary education. About 15% of veterinary graduates then continue on to a one or two year internship and then a three year residency. Once their residency is completed they must pass a rigorous comprehensive board exam to become a Diplomate of their specialty. Only those veterinarians having earned Diplomate status in a specialty college have the privilege to call themselves board-certified specialists.
The American Veterinary Medical Association currently recognizes 22 specialty organizations comprising 41 distinct specialties. Veterinarians can be specialists in cardiology, ophthalmology (eye diseases), internal medicine, oncology, surgery, neurology and many more areas.
You and your pet may be referred to a veterinary specialist if diagnosing or treating your pet’s health problem requires specialized equipment and/or intensive medical care. The specialist’s expertise complements that of your veterinarian and it is critical that you, your veterinarian and the veterinary specialist communicate and work together to provide the best care for your pet.
When should you request a referral to a Veterinary Specialist?
- Your animal’s disease is uncommon, complicated, or undiagnosed after standard testing.
- You would like an informed, neutral second opinion of your animal’s condition.
- The outcomes of the current treatments are not going well or as expected.
- Your animal requires a sophisticated procedure or diagnostic testing offered by a specialty hospital.
- Your animal can benefit from 24-hour monitoring provided by a specialty hospital.
If you believe your animal would benefit from a visit to a board-certified veterinary specialist, discuss referral with your veterinarian. They will provide us with all of the information on your pet’s medical history so that you can make an appointment at CARE and we can get to work making your pet feel better!