What is a Veterinary Specialist?

WestVet Veterinary specialists collaborate with your family veterinarian to provide advanced medicine for pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recognizes more than 20 specialties such as dermatology, ophthalmology, surgery, internal medicine, radiology, pathology, oncology, cardiology and dentistry.

What education and training are required for a veterinarian to become a specialist?

WestVet is Idaho's only 24 hour animal emergency and veterinary specialty Hospital. A veterinarian has completed a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by four years at a veterinary school. Then, to obtain licensure and be considered qualified to practice, veterinarians must pass state and national board exams.

A vet specialist is required to complete 3 to 5 years of additional training in their chosen specialty. Additionally, specialists conduct clinical research, publish research in a peer-reviewed journal, and pass board examinations in the area of specialty and a credential review.

The letters following a specialists’ name indicate the specialty college. For example, "DACVS" stands for Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons. It is listed after the name of a board certified veterinary surgeon who has met all of the requirements.

When specialized expertise is required, your family veterinarian may refer you to a specialist to provide the level of medicine your pet needs. A veterinary specialist serves as a valuable resource in providing advanced medicine and care as he/she collaborate with your family veterinarian on specific treatments; your family veterinarian remains your pets source for routine and preventative care.

Please speak with your family veterinarian about referrals to a veterinary specialist for your pet.


We are delighted to be serving patients through our new state-of-the-art Animal Emergency & Specialty Center located at 5024 W. Chinden Blvd., Garden City, ID.