Dogs are family members, so you want nothing less than expert care for your pup. When something starts ailing your beloved dog, you know there’s only one place to turn: the veterinarian. But what happens if your dog requires more care than a general practitioner can give him?
Among some of the most common pet ailments are dental diseases and obesity. Visiting a veterinary specialist is a great way to ensure your dog gets the care he needs. Veterinary specialists train for three to five years, and the process to become a fully recognized specialist is incredibly rigorous. You can trust veterinary specialists to know what they’re talking about, and they can always shine a light on an issue you’re worried about.
When to look for a veterinary specialist
You have to think carefully about whether your pup would benefit from seeing a specialist. In many cases, certain ailments are best taken care of by your dog’s general practitioner or even done at home.
For example, fitting your dog for a brace, while it can be challenging to understand the first time, doesn’t necessarily need a specialist and can be done by your general practitioner or even you. You have to look past your feelings of fear for your furry friend and use logical thought while wondering if you should take your dog to a specialist for something.
That’s why it’s essential to know just when to look for a veterinary specialist.
1. Your primary veterinarian refers you
If you receive a referral for your pet to visit a specialist, it’s not the vet wanting to push you off onto someone else. Veterinarians recommend specialists because they realize that specialists can give a greater quality of care in a certain field than they might be able to.
If your vet recommends your dog see a specialist, you should plan to visit someone who has special training in whatever your pet might be dealing with.
2. Your pup isn’t improving
Whether it’s diabetes or a heart issue, no matter how severe your dog’s health issue is, you should take it seriously and note any changes. You don’t have to wait for circumstances to get worse to see a specialist. You should be monitoring your dog’s progress — if there is none, you should prepare to find a specialist who can help your dog over this hill.
3. You want specialized care
General practitioners may have a baseline knowledge of everything, but a specialist is called a specialist for a reason — they trained extensively in the issues you’re worried about, so they can also put your mind at ease when it comes to the quality of care your pup will receive.
Wanting to see a specialist may mean that you want a second opinion from someone who isn’t your primary veterinarian. If your vet does not give you a referral to a specialist, you might consider visiting another general practitioner to receive the referral you want.
Find the right veterinary specialist for your dog
A veterinary specialist perfect for your dog’s issue won’t just fall out of the sky. You might have to dig around and hunt for them a bit. While it would be nice to find a great specialist right away, it isn’t always possible. Luckily, you can implement a few tactics to see a specialist that serves both you and your dog.
1. Ask your vet
Your general practitioner should have recommendations for specialists, even if they don’t give you a referral. Good vets put their patients’ health and owner worries first, so they might let you know about different specialists who could suit your needs if you only ask. They may end up giving you a referral, too, if they believe your dog could benefit from the extra care.
2. Volunteer at a shelter
By working at a shelter, you’ll take some stress off of volunteers and get to see shelter dogs up close. Some of the dogs up for adoption could have the same condition your dog does, and it could help you better prepare yourself for what’s expected. One of the volunteers might have resources they can use to point you in the right direction of a specialist who could suit your dog’s needs.
3. Search online for the right specialist
From getting the proper nutrition to all things radiology, veterinary specialists are well versed in just about every issue a dog can experience. You can trust specialists because of their extensive training and the challenging process to get recognized. You might be able to find them by searching for local specialists online.
It may be harder to find a specialist near you if you live in a rural area. People who live in larger cities might have better luck finding a suitable specialist not far from where they live. Depending on how far away you are from the center of your city, you might have fewer options or opportunities to find a specialist best suited for you and may just have to opt for one that is closer.
When in doubt, see a specialist
You know your dog best, so you know when she requires a greater or more precise level of care than your general practitioner can give. Talk to your vet about the possibility of visiting a specialist — even if your vet doesn’t consider it necessary, you should express your concern. Your vet will understand your worries and accommodate you so that your pup will be back on the right track toward healthy living.
Jane Marsh is an environmental writer who is passionate about pet care and health. To read more of her work, follow her site Environment.co.