Pet Care

Seeing a Specialist

Why Did My Dog’s Vet Refer Me to Another Doctor?

Your primary care veterinarian may refer you to a specialist—such as a veterinary surgeon, dermatologist, oncologist or cardiologist—if your dog’s condition requires specific expertise. In this case, it’s very important to facilitate clear communication between your primary vet and the specialist.

All parties should agree on the best outcome for your dog, but if the referral veterinarian offers you a new treatment option, don't hesitate to discuss it with your primary care doctor before proceeding.

What Questions Should I Ask My Primary Vet If He or She Refers Me to a Specialist?

  • What is my dog’s diagnosis?
  • What is her prognosis?
  • What tests have you performed?
  • What treatments have you tried?
  • Why are you referring me to a specialist?
  • What treatment options can I expect from this new veterinarian?

What Questions Should I Ask the Specialist?

First and foremost, be sure the specialist you see has a copy of all of your dog’s records. Discuss any pre-existing conditions and medications, and explain why your vet referred you, so there’s no confusion as to what you hope to accomplish.

It’s also important to ask the referral vet exactly what she intends to do, what the various benefits, risks and costs are, and who—the specialist or the primary vet—will handle follow-up care.

Will the Specialist Communicate With My Primary Care Vet?

Don't hesitate to ask the referral vet to call your primary vet if you aren’t clear on a procedure and want to have a discussion with your primary vet, or contact your primary vet directly.

Above all, don't be afraid to ask questions. If something doesn't feel right or you’re confused about your options, please speak up. This way, you won't have any later regrets and will know you’ve made the most informed decision possible for your dog.

From: Vet Confidential: An Insider's Guide to Protecting Your Pet's Health
By Louise Murray, DVM 
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