Why does my general practice veterinarian refer me to a surgical, medical oncology or radiation oncology specialist to treat my pet’s cancer? 

Pet parents often know their local veterinary practice very well and for many years.  We trust them implicitly with our pets, they treat our pets like family, and we know they have four years of college and four years of veterinary education.  Isn’t this enough training to treat cancer?

We feel uncomfortable and so does our pet when we go to a new place.

Board-certified veterinary specialists undergo all of the above training plus an internship year and a years-long residency in their chosen specialty.  Then they pass through a certification process governed by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) or the American College of Veterinary Surgery (ACVS) to achieve that credential.  Their role is to create a team, together with you and your general practice veterinarian, to assure the best health for your pet.

In practice, board-certified veterinary specialists see the most cases of a particular disease like cancer, they read research extensively in their fields, they often participate in research themselves, and they are networked to easily consult with other boarded specialists.  They are more familiar with specific therapeutics available and can address complications if they should arise.

Did you know that special OSHA safety requirements exist to protect your pet and the hospital staff using chemotherapy and radiation?  Veterinary specialists in medical and radiation oncology and their specialty trained nurses and staff must meet those requirements.

So do not be concerned about being referred to a specialist for treatment.  Do be sure you are well-matched to the specialist and if in doubt, seek a second opinion so that you are an informed pet parent.

To find specialists in your area, please click here.