Veterinary Specialties

A veterinary specialist is a veterinarian who specializes in a clinical field of veterinary medicine, and he or she has successfully completed the process of board certification in an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty organization. Most specialties  require a student to continue their education by submitting to a 1-year internship or 2 years of clinical practice, before beginning residency of 2-3 years. Plus, most specialties require the resident to produce academic journals, publications, etc in order to qualify to sit the certifying examination. The list below gives a brief description of each of the specialties a veterinarian can specialize in.

Anesthesiology- These vets are limited to teaching in schools and hospitals, and most veterinarians practice anesthesiology in their offices.

Animal Behavior and Psychotropic Pharmacology- This specialty is new due to the increased interest in modulating abnormal animal behavior.

Cardiology and Cardiothoracic Surgery- These vets manage cardiac and conductance disorders, plus perform cardiothoracic surgery when treating congenital and acquired heart disease.

Chiropractic Medicine- This is the practice of manipulative and chiropractic medicine to animals. Some vets have dual degrees in chiropractic medicine and veterinary medicine.

Dairy Medicine- The biggest part of dairy medicine is nutrition, herd management and reproduction.

Dentistry- This is a veterinarian and owner ‘need-to-know’ specialty. Many vets and owners neglect this part of their animal’s health.

Dermatology and Dermatopathology- Dermatology in animals deals mainly with the field of Allergy and Immunulogy, however, these vets also specialize in dermatopathology. In human medicine these the combination of these two are non-existent.

Equine Medicine- These vets diagnose and surgically treat horses. They are also involved with intestinal disorders and orthopedic surgery.

Emergency and Critical Care- These vets are trained in medicine, surgery, and critical care of severely injured or ill animals. This specialty also covers the field of emergency or trauma surgery.

Endocrinology- These vets understand that each species of animal has their own unique endocrine disorder, and that most of the endocrine disorders are emerged from macro- and micro-mineral deficiencies.

Epidemiology and Public Health- These vets study ways to improve herd health, prevent transmissible diseases and keeping food supplies safe from zoonotic diseases.

Exotic Animal Medicine- These vets generally tend to reptiles, exotic birds, ferrets, rabbits and other small animals.

Feline Medicine- These vets only deal with cat-related medicine.

Food Animal Medicine- These vets generally focus on porcine, bovine and ovine medicine.

Food Animal Surgery- Usually taught in teaching hospitals, most large and small animal veterinarians also perform surgery in the field and their clinics.

Infectious Diseases and Foreign Animal Diseases- These vets keep control of infectious diseases in the herds, plus they control the spread of economically important foreign animal diseases. Specialists in this field work within regulatory agencies and teaching institutions.

Internal Medicine- These vets are trained to manage complex medical conditions, as well as teach at universities and hospitals. They also must endure 2 more years of residency training.

Laboratory Animal Medicine- These vets work in universities or industrial laboratories and are responsible for the care and treatment of laboratory animals of all species. These vets also enforce humane and ethical treatment rules within the facility.

Large Animal Medicine- These vets usually work with large farm animals and equine species.

Mixed Practice- These vets treat both large and small animals.

Neurology and Neurologic Surgery- Veterinarian neurologists are surgeons and neurologists in practice. Unlike with human medicine, veterinarian neurologists do it all.

Nutrition- These vets work in the pet food industry in quality assurance and research. Nutrition is an important part of food animal medicine and herd medicine.

Oncology- These vets focus on the diagnosis and management of malignancies in animals. Chemotherapy, radiation oncology and surgical oncology are now available for animals.

Ophthalmology- These vets are trained to diagnose eye diseases and to perform surgery on the eyes and eyelids.

Orthopedic Surgery- Most vets perform orthopedic procedures within their offices. Some of their tasks include complex internal fixation and external fixations, such as joint replacements in small animals.

Parasitology- Often times these vets teach in universities and hospitals, however, all veterinarians practice parasitology in their offices.

Pathology and Hematology- This is a broad field that covers multiple species, organ systems, foreign and domestic diseases. These vets also perform autopsies (necropsies), read pathological slides, collect specimens, and assist clinicians in the diagnosis of illnesses and seek causes of deaths in animals.

Pharmacology- These vets study the drug use in animals.

Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation- This is a new field that focuses on both small animals and equine medicine. It’s an important part of neurosurgical and orthopedic recovery and is used to relieve pain, restore mobility, strength and function.

Porcine Medicine- Generally these vets focus on herd medicine and the management of swine herds. They also focus on the nutrition, reproduction and minor field surgery with these herds.

Poultry Medicine- These vets care for flocks of poultry, and involves extensive training in pathology, epidemiology, and nutrition of birds. Vets treat flocks not individual animals.

Radiology and Radiation Oncology- These vets interpret imagining modalities (x-rays, MRI, CT scans, ultrasounds, Doppler devices and echocardiograms), plus they give radiation treatment for malignancies and endocrine diseases.

Small Animal Medicine- These vets generally work with dogs and cats and other household pets such as hamsters.

Soft Tissue Surgery- These vets operate on the skin, muscles and GI tract.

Theriogenology- These vets study and treat reproductive disorders, mainly within the bovine, porcine, ovine and equine communities.

Urology and Nephrology- These vets specialize in the treatment and surgery of kidney and bladder diseases.