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My neighbor mentioned that she had taken her dog to a veterinary ophthalmologist for blindness.  She had cataracts diagnosed, surgery was done and now her dog can see.  My dog Rudy, a 10 year old West Highland White Terrier, is anemic and has a chronic cough.   Is there a specialist I could see for that kind of problem?  What kind of special training would that person have that could help my dog? 

Just as in human medicine, veterinary medicine includes many different types of specialties.  To see a complete list of recognized veterinary specialist organizations, go to the web page www.avma.org/education/abvs/specialties.  For Rudy’s problems of anemia and cough, the specialist you would wish to consult would be a board certified veterinary specialist in internal medicine known as a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM).  These specialists have completed undergraduate training and four years of veterinary school, followed by an internship and residency in their specialized field (an additional 3-5 years training).  In addition to this extensive training, a board certified veterinary specialist must pass rigorous examinations to achieve board certification from the ACVIM.  Specialists bring a greater understanding in the area of internal medicine, cardiology, oncology or neurology, and have a greater knowledge of the unusual, the uncommon, and the rare maladies in both large and small animals.

Rudy’s anemia might be investigated by such tests as bone marrow biopsy or specialized laboratory testing for infectious or immune diseases.  Investigating causes for a chronic cough could include xrays, bronchoscopy, fluoroscopy, tracheal wash or bronchoalveolar lavage.  These decisions would be made at the time of your appointment with the specialists who would be in consultation with your family veterinarian.  To locate an internal medicine specialist near you, go to the web page www.acim.org.  Best of luck to you in the quest to help Rudy!

[doctor name = “Mary Crawford”]