As medical knowledge and ability continue to expand doctors find that there is too much to know about each of the particular aspects of medicine for any single person to be completely proficient in all of them. These days if you stub your big toe your general practitioner may send you to either the right big toe specialist or the left big toe specialist depending on which is indicated by the injury.
In veterinary medicine most general practitioners have to handle the primary care of a wide variety of medical and surgical cases in large part for financial reasons on the part of the owner. There are plenty of cases, however that have treatments available that exceed the skill or equipment of most generalists, and plenty of pet owners who don’t want to take “I’m sorry there is nothing more I can do for your pet” as an answer. Fortunately for pet owners here in Colorado Springs we have a very strong community of Veterinary specialists who can offer treatments that many may not have even thought possible. These days a severely ruptured disc in the spine does not have to lead to permanent paralysis or euthanasia, nor do cataracts have to cause permanent blindness. Thanks to the dedicated people who have taken many extra years of study to become certified experts in their fields, we have options for treatment that rival most human medicine.
The Specialty Center of Southern Colorado houses several different types of specialists, including orthopedic surgeons who do the latest knee surgeries on dogs, complicated fracture repair, and spinal surgeries to name only some of their talents. A bone fractured by a gunshot would likely have to result in an amputation at my practice, but a specialist may have the equipment and expertise to save the leg instead.
They also have a fine group of internal medicine specialists who tackle the most difficult medical cases. They can offer state of the art cancer treatment, neurology, cardiology, and can straighten out the most catastrophic diabetic crisis. As I write they are saving the life of one of my favorite patients who I was not able to help adequately with the resources available to me.
We have a soft tissue surgeon in town who does the tricky, technique sensitive surgeries. In my hands a dog who needed its gallbladder removed would not stand much of a chance, but with Dr. Morgan we have the best chance possible for complete recovery.
Dr Woodward is our dental specialist. I learned the basic technique for a root canal in vet school. But what I really learned is that it is very hard to do right, and if not done right it will be a disaster. When we want to save damaged teeth I am very happy to know that there is someone here in town who has the equipment and know how to do it right.
We have eye specialists that come down from Denver twice per week. When they removed the cataracts from one of my diabetic patients his quality of life improved so much he was like a puppy again.
Carefree Cats offers radioactive iodine treatment for hyperthyroid cats. This is by far the best treatment available for this common condition in older cats, but the facilities and monitoring required make it unreasonable for most general practitioners to do it at their hospitals.
This is hardly a comprehensive list of all the specialists we have. There are cardiologists, neurologists, dermatologists, cancer specialists and more both in Colorado Springs and Denver.
Usually your general practitioner will bring up the option of going to a specialist if she feels that would provide your pet with the best outcome possible. Don’t be shy about asking for a referral, either. No veterinarian should take offense about sending you to a specialist if that is what you want, and they can team with you to make sure the right preliminary work is done and to coordinate after care as well.