What is a Veterinary Specialist?

By Jane Snyder, Hospital Operations Coordinator

These days there are nearly as many fields of specialty medicine for pets as there are for their human caretakers. You are probably familiar with the specialties of cardiology, dentistry, radiology, surgery and oncology. Veterinarians can specialize in these – and many more – fields of medicine as well. Four Seasons Veterinary Specialists in Loveland, CO, has board certified and residency trained specialists in surgery, radiology, internal medicine, dentistry, cardiology, critical care and oncology, as well as a state-of-the-art hospital providing 24/7 emergency and urgent care.

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It takes years of study to become a veterinarian – four years undergraduate and four additional years in an accredited veterinary medical school. Afterward, graduates must pass national and state board exams in order to practice as veterinarians. Those few veterinarians who choose to become specialists undergo additional training.  Most specialties require a doctor to complete a one year internship or two years of clinical practice before they can begin a residency program at a veterinary school, and most residency programs last two to three years. To become board certified, these doctors must then qualify for and pass rigorous exams and a credential review. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), currently recognizes 22 veterinary specialties.

Specialists work in concert with family veterinarians to diagnose and treat more complicated cases.  Generally speaking, a client is referred to a specialist by their family veterinarian, however, a referral is not required. It’s not uncommon for multiple specialists to consult on a single case, depending on the needs of the patient. Some conditions a specialist might treat a patient for include congestive heart failure, diabetes, anemia, cancer, fracture repair, or root canal therapy.

Specialty veterinary practices like Four Seasons Veterinary Specialists have advanced diagnostic testing available to them to assist in determining what is ailing a patient. Our hospital includes a fully-equipped surgical suite with laparoscopy and arthroscopy, ICU, digital radiography and ultrasound, an on-site laboratory, pharmacy and isolation ward.  Because we are fully staffed around the clock, we are also able to accept patients transferring from other practices for overnight and ongoing care.

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