What is a veterinary specialist?

In addition to completing undergraduate training and four years of veterinary school, 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 of training). In addition to this extensive training, a board-certified veterinary specialist must pass rigorous examinations and publish research in a peer-reviewed veterinary medical journal to achieve board certification.

Specialists in emergency + critical care are veterinarians with advanced training in emergency medicine. They're trained to perform life-saving interventions for emergency situations and critical illnesses in pets.

Specialists in internal medicine bring a greater understanding in the area of internal medicine, cardiology, oncology, or neurology and have a greater knowledge of the unusual, the uncommon, or rare diseases in animals.

Specialists in surgery have extensive experience in advanced and complicated soft tissue, neurologic, and orthopedic surgical procedures.

Specialists in radiology help to diagnose and manage complex diseases and injuries through in-depth understanding and application of advanced imaging studies. 

In addition, a specialist may have diagnostic and surgical equipment not generally used by your family veterinarian.

When should you request a referral to a board-certified veterinary specialist?hawaii vet specialist, honolulu dog expert, honolulu cat expert

  • Your animal's disease is uncommon, complicated, or undiagnosed after standard testing.
  • You would like an informed, neutral second opinion of your animal's condition.
  • The outcomes of the current treatments are not going well or as expected.
  • Your animal requires a sophisticated procedure that is offered by a specialty hospital.
  • Your animal can benefit from 24-hour monitoring provided by a referral hospital. 
  • If you believe your animal would benefit from a visit to a board-certified veterinary specialist, you are encouraged to work with your family veterinarian to complete a referral.