Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Visiting a Veterinary Specialist


I'll never forget the day my veterinarian referred Tara to a cardiologist. Specialty veterinary medicine was something I had never given much thought to, and I was incredibly frightened and overwhelmed. Turns out I wasn't alone - according to a recent survey, 63 percent of dog and cat owners didn’t even realize the field existed.

Like most health care fields, the veterinary profession has become multi-tiered. Most conditions that develop in our pets are first evaluated by a primary care veterinarian. If an animal develops a problem or illness requiring advanced care and procedures, your primary care veterinarian or emergency room veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary specialist. Veterinary specialists work closely with animal owners, as well as the primary care veterinarian, to coordinate the best quality of care.


That’s why the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) and the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS) joined forces and recently launched VetSpecialists.com, a comprehensive searchable database of board-certified veterinary specialists worldwide in the areas of large animal internal medicine, small animal internal medicine, cardiology, oncology, neurology, large animal surgery, and small animal surgery. 

Board-certified veterinary specialists are similar to their human medical counterparts in that they have completed an internship and residency in their specialized field (an additional 3-5 years training). In addition to this extensive training, a board-certified veterinary specialist must pass rigorous examinations to achieve board certification from their certifying organization. Specialists bring a deeper understanding in their specialty field, and have a greater knowledge of unusual or uncommon conditions in large or small animals. A specialist may have diagnostic equipment not generally used by your family veterinarian.


In addition to local specialist listings, VetSpecialists.com features an article library of small and large animal diseases, conditions, treatments and procedures – authored by board-certified veterinary specialists, as well as questions a pet owner can consider for discussions with their primary care veterinarian about their pet’s symptoms, and much more.

I did a search of veterinary cardiologists in my area and the top result ended up being Tara's cardiologist: Donald Brown, DVM, PhD, DACVIM at Peak Veterinary Referral Center/Vermont Veterinary Cardiology. I was so fortunate to have such a wonderful doctor less than 10 miles from my home, and credit Dr. Brown with giving me many more months with my precious girl than I would have otherwise had.

Hearing that your cat or dog's medical condition requires a specialist is very scary. VetSpecialists.com aims to empower pet owners with valuable information to help them provide the best possible outcome for their animals.



Have you had any experiences with a veterinary specialist? Tell us about them!

Photo Credit: depositphotos/

13 comments:

  1. We've (well, not us kitties, but one of da pups and previous kitties) have been to dermatologists and ophthalmologists before.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I've never had any of my fur babies go to a specialist but I am glad to know they exist.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mum's never had to take us to a specialist - just seeing the cat carrier and the car makes us run and hide.
    Luv Hannah and Lucy xx xx

    ReplyDelete
  4. /we have never seen a specialist and sadly we probably won't be able to. There are so many of us. we just can't afford to do that. But it is good to know that they are out there.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mine have never seen a specialist. I'm just grateful for the wonderful veterinarian, who has cared for my fur-babies for over 30 years.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Boo, Abby & Gracie have all have specialist visits. Abby for treatment for HCM and CHF. Gracie because of suspected lymphoma (we never did get a true diagnosis) and Boo for Hypocalicemia.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I will definitely bookmark this site. I have always gone to Tufts vet school for any specialists, but it is a teaching hospital so I don't really understand how they are specialists, but that is where everyone around here gets referred to.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Not yet, but weez lookin' into it fur sis Lexi and maybe even me. Me needs to see da VET wight now, so mommy's checkin' wound our ppawrts to see what and who be available. Gweat posty. Fanks fur sharin'.

    Luv ya'

    Dezi and Lexi

    ReplyDelete
  9. Parker first met the main vet at her current clinic when I needed a behavioral consult. When she moved inside from the farm, she had to learn that 2:30 am was not playtime, nor was it choir practice time. My vet gave me some tips on how to get her tired before my bedtime, and Parker does a much better job of sleeping through the night (or afternoon when I work the overnight shift). The vet is now president-elect of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior.

    ReplyDelete
  10. That looks like a great resource. For a decent-sized city, we really only have one veterinary specialty group, who Rhett, one of the cats who came before us, visited for his radioactive iodine treatment and subsequent cardiology issues. We're glad that they are available if we need them, but we hope not to need them!

    ReplyDelete
  11. We have seen vet specialists...a behavioral vet, a neurologist vet, a rehabilitation vet, a cardiologist vet. We're fortunate that we have a number of vet specialists in our area (although they are about an hour drive).

    ReplyDelete
  12. Our service dogs are evaluated annually by a Vet Ophthalmologist. Plus Stitches was evaluated by a canine epilepsy specialist and Brooklyn had an aggressive malignant thyroid tumor removed by a canine oncologist surgeon! Amazing vets who are have helped maintain and sustain their ability to thrive and do the work that keeps them happy.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yes, specialists can be VERY integral to your pet's health!

    ReplyDelete