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A veterinary specialist is a veterinarian who has completed additional training in a specific area of veterinary medicine and has passed an examination that evaluates their knowledge and skills in that specialty area.

The specialist's expertise complements that of your veterinarian. You may be referred to a veterinary specialist if diagnosing or treating your pet's health problem requires specialized equipment and/or expertise that your veterinarian does not have.

Here's a list of veterinary specialties that are recognized by the American Board of Veterinary Specialties, as well as a very simple descriptions of what these specialists do. For more information about the specialties, click the link to go to the website of the specialty college responsible for ertifying veterinarians in that specialty:

  • Oncology: the study of tumors and cancer.
  • Laboratory Animal Medicine: veterinarians working in research or in practice, making sure that laboratory animal species (rabbits, rats, mice, etc.) receive proper care.
  • Microbiology: veterinarians who study viruses, bacteria, fungi, etc.
  • Nutrition: veterinarians working to make sure that animals' diets meet their body's needs for nutrients.
  • Ophthalmology: veterinarians studying diseases and conditions of the eye.
  • Pathology: veterinarians studying disease in animals.
  • Preventive Medicine: veterinarians who study how diseases are spread and how they can be prevented.
  • Radiology: veterinarians who focus on the study of x-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (often called CAT scans), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and other imaging procedures that allow us to see "inside" an animal's body.
  • Surgery: veterinarians who specialize in performing surgery. A certified surgeon will be certified in either small animal surgery or large animal surgery. 
  • Theriogenology: veterinarians who specialize in animal reproduction.
  • Veterinary Practitioners: veterinarians in clinical practice who have additional training and expertise in certain animal species

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.