The vet’s office: The decision to refer a pet to a specialist
By Dr. Roger Krogstad, DVM
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC
People with complicated medical concerns are often referred to a specialist or advanced treatment center. This same situation may apply to your pet as well. Most general veterinary practices are now well equipped with advanced diagnostics such as ultrasound, digital X-ray, and in-house blood testing but still may have diagnostic or treatment limitations. A referral may be determined to be the best next step.
Many veterinary graduates now continue their education in pursuit of specialty certification. This requires an additional three to five years of clinical training in internships and residencies after the initial eight years in undergraduate and veterinary school. As in human medicine, they now have advanced knowledge or skill in a specific area of veterinary medicine or surgery.
These specialists are most often found at the university veterinary schools or in specialty practices in large cities. In Wisconsin a dental specialist can be found in Oshkosh, an ophthalmology specialist in Oconomowoc, a 24-hour emergency center in Appleton, and at UW-Madison there is advanced orthopedic surgery.
Fees for these services are usually proportional to the level of expertise and advanced equipment required. The initial visit and consultation, however, is usually affordable to most. The decision to pursue advanced diagnostics, with a CT scan or MRI for example, or advanced treatments such as chemotherapy is the pet owner’s.
These may cost thousands of dollars, but pet health insurance may cover a majority of the costs. Some specialty veterinary facilities may also accept Care Credit, which offers qualified applicants extended payment options.
For more information on pet health insurance, visit petinsurance.com.
For more information on Care Credit, visit carecredit.com.
Referrals are not an uncommon recommendation. In many cases an initial consultation may have already taken place between the specialist and your veterinarian after the sharing of medical records, radiographs, and test results.
Ultimately, it will be decided along with the pet owner’s input if a pet referral would be the best course of action for you and your furry friend. These specialists are an important part of your animal health care team.
Wildwood Animal Hospital and Clinic LLC is located at 210 Airpark Road in Marshfield and online at wildwoodanimalhospital.net.