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What is a Board-Certified Surgeon

Vet Specialty Hospital In Sarasota FL


A board-certified veterinary specialist is a veterinarian that has undergone additional training and certification to become an expert in their discipline. This includes a post-doctorate internship (oftentimes multiple internships), completion of a three-year residency, publication of research in a scientific journal, and passing a rigorous, comprehensive board exam on all elements of veterinary surgery. Even after board certification, veterinary specialists regularly attend continuing education courses to stay current on all the latest surgical advancements, technologies, and groundbreaking studies. 


Board-certified veterinary specialists exist for a variety of specialties including surgery, cardiology, oncology, internal medicine, neurology, critical care, radiology, sports medicine, and more. Similar to how a human primary care doctor may refer a patient to a surgeon for an orthopedic injury or a cardiologist for a heart murmur, veterinary medicine works the same way. Not all pet owners are aware of the wide range of options for specialty care, so it’s important to get your primary veterinarian’s recommendation on referral. Modern veterinary medicine incorporates a multifaceted approach to treatment through the benefit of referrals to specialists so that your pet has access to the best medical care and cutting-edge technology. 

Board-Certified Veterinary Specialist


There are many reasons why your pet may need to see a board-certified veterinary surgeon. When your primary veterinarian or an emergency room veterinarian diagnoses or suspects a condition that may need surgery, they may recommend an expert in surgery to evaluate your pet. Surgeons perform a wide array of orthopedic (bone and joint surgery), general surgery (internal cavities and major organ surgeries), and oncologic (cancer treatment and diagnosis) surgical conditions. However, just because surgery is available does not always mean that your pet needs surgery; surgeons often evaluate patients in which surgery is not necessary or not the best option. 

Knowing whether or not your pet “needs” a surgeon can be tricky. In some cases, your veterinarian (or an ER veterinarian) may advise that your pet needs a specific procedure and recommend they perform it. They may not recommend (or even offer) a referral. As the primary advocate for your pet, it is up to you to decide whether your pet needs a specialist. Educating yourself so that you can make an informed decision is critical! It’s important to ask questions such as:

  • How did the veterinarian learn the procedure?
  • How many cases have they treated?
  • What are the risks and complications?
  • What happens if there is a complication?
  • Have the technicians that will be handling the patient had advanced training in anesthesia and monitoring?
  • Does the operating room have a crash cart stocked with all necessary drugs and equipment should a complication arise?
Mobile Veterinary Surgeon In Sarasota FL


A mobile veterinary surgeon is a veterinarian that visits clinics in a specific area and performs surgery at the primary veterinarian’s practice using your primary veterinarian’s equipment and possibly their staff. In order to use the term “surgeon” they must be Board-certified, but often the term is used colloquially by veterinarians so there can be confusion. All equipment must be brought to the pre-sterilized that they need for the surgery. While a boarded-certified veterinary surgeon may be performing the procedure, the pre and post-operative care is often left up to the primary veterinarian and their staff, or, the patient may need to be transferred to another veterinary hospital after the procedure for overnight care. Access to your pet’s surgeon once the procedure is over is often limited and they are typically not directly involved with post-operative care. 


Some other differences that may affect the level of care can include access to advanced equipment and monitoring on-site. This can be especially important if a complication were to arise while a patient is under anesthesia. While a dedicated surgery center such as VSC has state-of-the-art anesthesia monitoring, quick access to a variety of diagnostic tools, and any drugs that may be needed should a complication arise, mobile surgeons often do not. 


It’s important to compare the quality and standards of care for all aspects of your pet’s surgery, including before, during, and after the procedure.