Vet Specialists are the equivalent of Consultants in human medicine. There are over 30 different disciplines ranging from small animal surgery, cattle health and production to diagnostic imaging, anaesthesia, pathology and animal behaviour. All species are covered from horses, dogs and cats to farm animals, camelids and even birds, fish and wildlife.
BCVSp aims to help the public understand the options that are available to them and to help animal owners find the right person to solve specific animal health problems.
In addition to advanced qualifications, experience and expertise, vet specialists may bring access to specific equipment necessary for complex therapies, surgerys or diagnostic procedures. For many animals, a multidisciplinary approach is required and more than one vet specialist may be consulted on different aspects of the animal’s problem.
There are many factors which might influence your decision to consult veterinary specialists including specialist qualifications, experience, advanced skills, specific expertise and equipment, and access to multidisciplinary teams. RCVS also advises animal owners to take in to account the location of the service, the urgency of treatment and their personal circumstances, including the availability and any limitations of insurance. Specialist veterinary care can involve extra costs but the specialist’s ability to target the most appropriate therapies or tests increases value for money.
Normally, vet specialists work in close collaboration with primary care vets and animal owners should approach their primary care vet for advice on what specialist treatment or expertise might help their animal. The RCVS Code of Professional Conduct for Veterinary Surgeons obliges vets to facilitate a client’s request for a referral. The primary care vet and vet specialist will work together initially and then advise when responsibility for on-going care can be handed back to the primary care vet. Open communication and trusting relationships between the animal owner, the primary care vet and the vet specialist(s) involved are critical to ensure effective veterinary care for every animal patient.