General and Specialist Veterinarian: What Are the Differences?

When you are sick, you call your primary care doctor to make an appointment. Depending on your condition, a doctor might give you a treatment plan for your disease and symptoms or send you to see a specialist. It is also true when it comes to animal medicine. People who work as general veterinarians can usually figure out what’s wrong and treat it. On the other hand, cancer and heart disease require the expertise of a veterinarian who is specialized in that area.

The Difference Between General and Specialized Veterinarian

General veterinarians and veterinary specialists provide treatment to pets. If you want to understand these differences better, we’ve added more information below.

General Veterinarian

Veterinarians are usually in charge of taking care of various animals and illnesses. Many veterinary offices take care of pets that live in your home, like cats and dogs, as well as rabbits and birds. A veterinarian can diagnose and treat many everyday long-term and short-term illnesses, including mild and severe cases. They also advise pet owners on feeding, exercising, and cleaning their animals. General veterinarians are in charge of giving animals medicine and giving them vaccines.


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Specialized Veterinarian

Some veterinarians have been specially trained in diagnosing and treating heart problems. For example, people who work with animals with brain or spinal cord illnesses. Others use their skills to help animals hurt or have diseased bones, joints, or muscles.


Veterinarians can often do more complicated things because they have access to more modern technology. A veterinarian might tell you to go to a doctor who specializes in internal medicine when your pet has internal bleeding. A blood transfusion and a 3D or 4D ultrasound may help your pet get better. People who work at most traditional veterinary clinics can’t use these things.


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Veterinary specialists and general practitioners work together often to help pets and other animals. Some available veterinarians may send cases to specialists when treating dogs if the situation calls for more specialized knowledge. Because general veterinarians check and learn about animals, specialists can help them diagnose and treat them. In many cases, general veterinarians and veterinary professionals work together in the same place, which allows them to work together on issues, share their knowledge, and make the process easier for pet owners.


Here is related content if you want to know more information about specialized areas like veterinary dermatology.


Veterinarians who want to be general practitioners or specialists have to go through a four-year program that includes classroom and hands-on training. Veterinarians also have to meet state licensing requirements, which vary from state to state, to work. Specialist veterinarians have to meet a lot of educational needs that are specific to their field. This means completing a long residency program before you can start working.