If your pet requires advanced diagnostics or treatment, your primary care veterinarian can refer your cat or dog to a board-certified veterinary specialist. Today, our Renton vets discuss what it means to be a board-certified specialist, and what they can offer.
Board-Certified Veterinary Specialists
Similar to medical doctors that specialize in specific fields of human medicine, a veterinary specialist is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) that has finished additional education and training in a specific field of veterinary medicine. Becoming a Board Certified Veterinary Specialist requires extensive study in the area they are specializing in, then taking an examination to evaluate their knowledge and skills in the chosen area of specialty.
In the US there are 41 different areas of specialty recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association that a vet can work towards. Some vets even decide to become specialized in more than one field.
How Primary Care Vets Become Board-Certified Specialists
It takes a lot of studying, hard work, and time to become a Board Certified Veterinary Specialist. Going past the required 6-8 years to obtain a veterinary degree, becoming a Board Certified Veterinary Specialist generally requires another internship, residency, and clinical experience in the field before being able to take the certification exam. This could mean another 3 - 5 years of training!
After these hard-working veterinarians have met all of the requirements established by the governing specialist organization or college, and passed the qualifying exam in their advanced area of study, they are officially Board-Certified Veterinary specialists in that field.
What Board-Certified Veterinary Specialists Do
Your pet will need a board Certified Veterinary Specialist (specialist vet) when they require tests, treatments, or equipment that is beyond the capabilities of your primary care vet. A specialist vet will work closely with you, your primary care vet, and other veterinary specialists to make sure your cat or dog receives the best care possible.
Your primary care veterinarian could refer your pet to a specialist if they believe your animal could benefit from advanced treatment and care.
Types of Board-Certified Veterinary Specialists
There are 41 different specialty fields in veterinary medicine. Here we share some examples of veterinary specialists and what they do:
- Internal medicine specialists are skilled at diagnosing and treating diseases of the immune, cardiovascular, pulmonary, urinary, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems.
- Radiology veterinary specialists have vast training in the use of diagnostic imaging technology and procedures that can see inside a pet's body such as X-ray, ultrasound, CT, and more.
- Dentistry specialists diagnose and treat dental, oral, and maxillofacial diseases in animals.
- Emergency and critical care specialists work in emergency rooms and intensive care units to provide urgent care for critically ill animals.
- Board-certified veterinary surgeons that are qualified in the field of surgery will further specialize in sub-categories such as small animals, orthopedics, soft tissue, or laparoscopic surgery.
- Veterinary Oncologists diagnose and treat animals with cancer.
- A Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist specializes in conditions and diseases that affect the eyes.
- Specialists of veterinary rehabilitation are the physiotherapists of the animal world, helping pets to get back to normal functioning following an accident or illness.
- Veterinary practitioners are veterinary specialists with advanced training in the care of specific animal species such as exotic companion mammals (rabbits, ferrets, mice, and hedgehogs), birds, reptiles, horses, and more.
Finding a Specialist for Your Pet
Many specialists only accept new clients that have been referred to them, however, some specialists may be able to see your pet if they need immediate care. If you'd like your cat or dog to be examined by a specialist for a service we do not offer, call the specialist you require to see if you need a referral, or ask your primary care veterinarian about getting a referral for your four-legged friend.