The veterinarians at Averill Animal Hospital are able to perform many routine and advanced diagnostics, surgical procedures, and treatments. Sometime in the course of the diagnosis and treatment of your pet's problem, though, it may become necessary to refer the case to a specialist. Sometimes, this creates confusion because pet owners may not understand the difference between their regular veterinarian and one of the many specialists available for referral.
WHAT IS A "SPECIALIST?"
A veterinary specialist is a veterinarian who has received training above and beyond the 8 years of college and veterinary school that a general practitioner receives. This advanced training typically includes an internship, a residency program, and then a rigorous examination in their chosen specialty. Once they pass the exam, they are Board Certified in that specialty. Typically, veterinary specialists practice at referral-only specialty practices or university teaching hospitals. Some specialists are available via "telemedicine" or telephone consultation, although these many not be a substitute for an actual visit. Please note: it is not ethical for a veterinarian to claim to be a "specialist" unless they have fulfilled the above requirements.
WHAT KINDS OF SPECIALISTS ARE AVAILABLE?
There are many veterinary specialties and sub-specialties. Here is a partial list:
- Surgery (soft tissue and orthopedic)
- Internal Medicine
- Alternative Medicine
- Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
- Emergency Medicine and Critical Care
WHAT ARE SOME DISEASES THAT CAN BENEFIT FROM REFERRAL
- Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture
- Cancer requiring chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- Cases requiring advanced imaging (CT Scan, MRI, Myelogram, Echocardiogram)
- Advanced surgical cases such as perineal hernia repair
- Neurology cases
- Difficult internal medicine cases, or those not responding to normal therapy
- Back and neck surgery
- Total hip replacement
- Autoimmune skin disease
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT REFERRALS
If our veterinarians determine that your pet needs a referral, we will explain why we feel it is necessary, and we will discuss the possible costs of advanced care. Then we will call the referral facility and discuss your pet's situation with the veterinarians there. If the case is an emergency, you will likely see an emergency clinician first upon arrival. They will then determine the best next steps. For non-emergency referrals, you will be given directions as to how to set up an appointment. It is important that you take all medical records with you to the appointment. Radiographs and ultrasound images are generally emailed directly from our computer system, as they are all digital.
These specialists are an integral part of modern veterinary care. Remember, though, specialty care can be significantly more expensive than general veterinary care. It is important that you are clear on the possible costs of care that you might incur before deciding to take your pet to a specialist. Our goal is to recommend the best course of treatment for your pet, so we may offer a referral if we feel it is ideal.