Does My Pet Need a Specialist?

January 13th, 2014

General practice veterinarians are typically able to handle the majority of your pet’s needs. However, over the last twenty years, there has been a great increase in veterinary school graduates choosing to participate in residency programs leading to an area of specialty. The result is that you now have a number of options for specialized vet care in the areas of behavioral medicine, radiology, anesthesiology, dermatology, internal medicine, ophthalmology, neurology, cardiology, surgery, and more. At some point, your pet may be referred to one of these veterinary specialists for care, or you may decide on your own to visit one. Below are examples of situations in which visiting a veterinary specialist is recommended.

  • If you have brought your pet to the vet for the same issue three times or more and your pet’s health is not improving, consulting with a specialist is recommended.
  • If your vet detects a heart murmur or any other type of cardiac rhythm abnormality, it is highly recommended you schedule an appointment with a cardiologist.
  • If your pet has an X-ray or ultrasound image taken that your vet feels is inconclusive, you can meet with a radiologist for a second opinion.
  • Any time your pet needs critical care, it would be best to have them kept under watch at a 24 hour veterinary hospital. Examples of this include high and unrelenting fevers, respiratory issues, blood transfusions, severe heart arrhythmias, and post-operative care for non-routine procedures.
  • Complex surgeries, such as orthopedic surgery, thoracic surgery, or exploratory surgery are best handled by a board-certified specialist in veterinary surgery.

Finally, while you of course trust your general veterinarian, as a pet owner, you know your pet best. If you have doubts about a diagnosis your vet has provided, it is best to seek a second opinion from a specialist.