There are many areas of specialization in veterinary medicine. A veterinary specialist is “board-certified” in their area of expertise. Once a veterinarian is certified, they are considered a “diplomate” of their respective board association.

Attaining board certification status involves education and experience far beyond the degrees and examinations required for a DVM, or doctor of veterinary medicine. Doctors can be certified by their expertise in different species through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, as well as in many specialties recognized by the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) within the practice of veterinary medicine.


A referral may be suggested when your pet needs either the expertise of a specialist or the equipment necessary for special diagnostic or therapeutic procedures. Some examples are an MRI, radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroid cats, cancer treatment, and cataract surgery. We can help you with the referral of your pet when necessary, and usually, there is more than one referral option from which to choose.

The following are large specialty referral hospitals that can proceed with both diagnostic and treatment well beyond the level of care of a general practitioner. They have board-certified veterinarians in multiple areas.

Seattle Veterinary Specialists

BluePearl – Critical Care and Emergency Services

Pilchuck Veterinary Hospital

WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital