Referral FAQ

What is a board-certified veterinary specialist?

The American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS) of the American Veterinary Medical Association currently recognizes 20 specialties whose regulatory bodies are called “colleges.” Examples include the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, and the American College of Veterinary Radiology. A board-certified veterinary specialist is a veterinarian who is certified by one of the recognized specialty colleges.

Veterinarians wishing to become board-certified must complete an approved post-graduate residency training program in a specific specialty, must meet specific training and caseload requirements, and, in most cases, must perform and publish case reports or research. Once the residency has been completed, the veterinarian must sit for and pass a rigorous examination. Only then does a veterinarian become board-certified. ABVS and CVBC rules state that only veterinarians who are board-certified may refer themselves as veterinary specialists.

What is a Diplomate?

A Diplomate refers to someone who is board-certified in a recognized veterinary specialty college. For example, an “ACVS Diplomate” is a veterinarian who is board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

What makes a specialist different from my family veterinarian?

A family (or general practice) veterinarian is a skilled professional with the capability to handle most of your pet’s healthcare. However, sometimes your pet may suffer an injury or develop a disease that requires specialized diagnostics or treatment; in these cases, your family veterinarian may refer you to a specialist.

Veterinary specialists in no way replace your family veterinarian. Veterinary specialists work hand in hand with your family veterinarian to provide the specialized diagnostic and treatment skills to ensure the highest quality, most seamless, care possible.

How do I know if my pet needs a specialist?

Advances in animal health care have led to a wide variety of treatment options, including highly specialized diagnostic and treatment procedures. Board-certified specialists have spent at least three to five years after obtaining their veterinary degree focusing strictly on a specific discipline. This concentrated training results in an in-depth knowledge of advanced diagnostic and therapeutic procedures in a given field, which allows a specialist to provide specialized treatments for your pet. In addition, a specialist may have access to diagnostic equipment not generally used by your family veterinarian.

Ask your veterinarian if the procedure requires a specialist. General procedures may be less likely to require someone who is board-certified. You and your pet may benefit from a specialist when

  • Your animal’s disease is not routine, is complicated, or is undiagnosed after standard testing;
  • You would like an informed, neutral second opinion of your animal’s condition;
  • The outcomes of the current treatments are not going well or as expected;
  • Your animal requires a sophisticated procedure that is offered by a specialty hospital;
  • Your animal can benefit from 24-hour monitoring provided by a referral hospital.

How do I find the right specialist?

It is critical that you feel comfortable with the specialist who will be providing care for your beloved pet. You should expect that the specialist has thoroughly examined your pet, explained the pros and cons of each procedure or treatment, discussed costs, and answered any questions you may have.

Why should I consider Boundary Bay Veterinary Specialty Hospital?

The specialists at BBVSH understand that the diseases that require specialty care are complex and multifaceted and we use a multidisciplinary approach to diagnostics and treatment in order to provide quality care. Our specialists also understand that there may be more than one good diagnostic or treatment method, and that it may not be easy for a pet owner to decide which method to choose. We pride ourselves on the personal approach we take with each client and pet; we take whatever time is needed to appropriately communicate diagnostic and treatment options and strive to remain accessible for questions throughout the diagnostic, treatment, and recovery process.

Do I need a referral from my family veterinarian?

A referral from your family veterinarian is strongly encouraged. In order to ensure seamless care and to avoid duplicating tests or performing unnecessary tests, it is important that all of the health care providers are in communication with one another.

BBVSH will communicate directly with your family veterinarian and will provide a complete written report regarding your pet’s diagnostic tests, treatments, and outcome.

This continuity between surgical specialist and primary care veterinarian ensures the best possible outcome for the patient.

How soon can my pet be seen by a BBVSH specialist?

We will do our best to accommodate your pet as soon as possible. Specialty services are generally available Monday through Friday, and may be available nights and weekends for certain types of emergencies.