Types of Veterinary Specialists


It is important for your dog to see its primary veterinarian for a routine check-up. Vets are normally trained in many disciplines including medicine, surgery, dentistry, etc. However, your dog’s regular vet cannot possibly have an encyclopedic knowledge of every medical condition, nor would he or she have the experience in every type of veterinary medical field. This is where veterinary specialists come in. These vets go to vet school and then do a residency in a certain field. You may have good veterinarians for your dog, but if they cannot figure out a problem, it is common for them to call a specialist working in another clinic or research lab and ask for help. In other words, dogs may need to see specialists the same reasons humans do. There are currently 22 specialty organizations officially recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Here are some examples of specialists that dogs sometimes need to see.

Behavioral Medicine

Known as veterinary behaviorists, these vets study animal behavior and behavior modification. They look at the links between an animal’s behavior with its environment, health, and experiences. They also have knowledge of psychotropic medications and will prescribe them if necessary.


As you may guess, these vets specialize in teeth, mouths, faces, and jaws. While your primary vet can perform dental cleanings, these vets are experts in oral surgery, diseases of the mouth, and in teeth cleaning, adjusting, and extracting.


These specialists study animal skin, ears, nails, and hair. They look at both benign and malignant disorders of these areas. They also have training in internal medicine, immunology, and allergy problems because some dermatological problems come from other sources in and outside the body.

Emergency and Critical Care

Often seen in animal hospitals, these vets are highly trained to treat animals in emergency, high-pressure situations. The animals are often injured or have sudden life-threatening health problems.

Internal Medicine

Animals get referred to these specialists when they have uncommon or complicated issues. These vets are usually even more specialized in a field within internal medicine such as cardiology, neurology, and oncology.

Veterinary Nutrition

These vets can work in different places such as dog food companies or clinics. They specialize in diet and can work with animals to develop a nutrition plan to help with any ailments.


These vets have expert knowledge in eye conditions. They perform eye exams, perform eye surgery, and help prevent eye problems from getting worse.


Primary vets call up these specialists when they need someone with advanced knowledge of x-rays, ultrasounds, computed tomography, MRIs, and any other imaging procedures.

Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation

These specialists help animals function while they recover from injury or surgery. They usually work with dogs or horses.


These specialists have more advanced knowledge and training in surgery than your primary vet, and they often work with complicated cases and have more advanced equipment. Like those in internal medicine, they often study a field within their specialty such as orthopedics (skeletal system), soft tissue surgery (internal organs), and neurosurgery (brain and the nervous system).


These vets treat animals who have been exposed to poisons and study intensively how poisons and other toxins affect animal bodies. They can work in different places including laboratories, poison control centers, and government agencies.

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Sources: https://www.sgu.edu/blog/veterinary/the-ultimate-list-of-veterinary-specialists/ https://www.avma.org/education/veterinary-specialties/what-board-certified-veterinary-specialists-do https://www.dacvb.org/default.aspx https://www.acvd.org/ http://www.acvo.org/https://www.abvt.org/