Vet Blog

Veterinary Specialists and Why We Refer to Them

August 15, 2018

The veterinarians at Averill Animal Hospital are able to perform many routine and advanced diagnostics, surgical procedures, and treatments.

Sometimes 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 may 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
  • Cardiology
  • Oncology
  • Opthalmology
  • Radiology
  • Behavior
  • Neurology
  • Exotics
  • Alternative Medicine
  • Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy
  • Emergency Medicine and Critical Care
  • Dermatology

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
  • Emergencies
  • Autoimmune skin disease
  • Others

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.

Please contact us with any questions.

We appreciate your support over the past 40 years, and it has been our privilege to serve you and your pets. Averill Animal Hospital will permanently close its doors after July 31, 2024.

For our loyal clients, we strongly recommend that you visit one of our sister hospitals in the area. If you would like to book an appointment, please contact their team directly.

Greater Atlanta Veterinary Medical Group - (770) 424-6303

Brookstone Animal Hospital - (770) 628-0651