What is a Veterinary Specialist?

A veterinary specialist collaborates with a veterinarian to provide advanced veterinary medicine for pets. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recognizes more than 20 specialties in veterinary medicine. The specialists at WestVet provide specialized care in veterinary dermatology, ophthalmology, veterinary surgery, internal medicine, veterinary radiology, pathology, veterinary oncology, and other specialties for families in Idaho and Oregon.

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 is required to earn a four-year undergraduate degree, followed by four years at a veterinary school. To obtain licensure and be considered qualified to practice veterinary medicine, all veterinarians must pass state and national board exams after graduating from veterinary school.

A vet specialist is required to complete 3 to 5 additional years of training in their specialty and meet additional requirements. The veterinary specialist must conduct clinical research in their area of specialty, publish research in a peer-reviewed journal, and pass board examinations in the area of specialty and credential review. The letters after a vet specialists’ name indicate the individual specialty college, such as DACVS, which stands for Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons, after the name of a vet surgeon.

In situations when a sick or injured pet requires specialized care in veterinary internal medicine, veterinary pathology, veterinary ophthalmology, or vet emergency care, a specialist offers a valuable resource for working with your veterinarian to treat your pet. When specialized expertise is required, your veterinarian may refer you to a specialist to provide the level of care your pet needs.

The specialists at WestVet work with your veterinarian on the specific treatment while your veterinarian continues to provide routine and preventative care for your pet. WestVet specialists offer appointments by referral for families in Idaho and Oregon. Please speak with your family veterinarian about referrals to a veterinary specialist for your pet.