If your pet becomes ill, or develops health issues, you want to take your pet to your regular veterinarian. He or she may be able to solve the problem there and then, and you would follow the instructions and treatment given. However, there are times when your general veterinarian may feel that the expertise of a pet specialist is needed, and will refer your pet to a specialist.
Your general veterinarian is like your local doctor. They are trained to know a lot about all aspects of pet health, but they do not specialize in any particular aspect of animal health. They can treat a lot of the pet health problems, but there are times when a problem will arise that requires a specialist attention.
A general veterinarian and pet specialist work together and interact with each other to give your pet the best treatment. Your general veterinarian will be the one to initiate the need for a specialist opinion, rather than you having to seek one out for yourself. Sometimes it is possible for you to go directly to a pet specialist, many of them have their own web sites, and can be found through an online search, but the two-tier system of general veterinarian and veterinary specialist liaising with each other when necessary is the best route.
It can be difficult for the average person to know whether your pet needs the expertise of a pet specialist, but if you are in any doubt, or if you feel that a second opinion is necessary, you should seek out a specialist who deals with your pet’s particular problem. Some general veterinarians may claim to be specialists, but only if they are board-certified. This means they have undertaken a residency program and subsequently passed a challenging and demanding examination in their chosen field. You should check this out for yourself.
When it comes to the need for surgery for your pet, it is usually best to have it done by someone who has the greatest expertise and experience with a particular surgery. Like an orthopedic veterinarian that does patella (knee) surgery or back (disc) surgery on a daily routine basis. So in these type of instances, a pet specialist would be best. It isn’t only surgery either. Pet specialists tend to have more sophisticated equipment on hand, so if your pet needs a a CT scan, for example, a specialist is much more likely to have the necessary equipment and the expertise to do the job properly. There are other reasons why you might need a pet specialist, and any time you are unsure, it might be best to simply seek the advice of the expert, rather than worry.