1. Careers
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Veterinary Specialists


People waving at humpback whale, Hervey Bay, Queensland, Australia
Cultura Travel/Marco Simoni/Photolibrary/Getty Images

There are a number of veterinary specialties recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Certification as a veterinary specialist generally requires an additional two to three years of study, plus passing an intensive board examination. The specialty residency is completed under the supervision of a board certified specialist in the field.

The various veterinary specialty board certifications may be based on specific disciplines and organ systems, or they may be focused on management and care of one specific species.

Species-Specific Specialties

The American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) governs specialty certification in ten different species. Through the ABVP, certification is available as a veterinary specialist in avian, beef cattle, canine, dairy, equine, exotic companion mammal, feline, food animal, reptile and amphibian, or swine health management. In total, there are over 850 active diplomates participating in the ten species specialty fields.


The specialty of Veterinary Anesthesiology is concerned with the use and administration of a variety of anesthetic agents to provide proper sedation during veterinary surgical procedures. There are approximately 220 active diplomates in the field.


The specialty of Veterinary Behavior is concerned with the determination of the causes of behavioral issues and treatment of animals with the appropriate medication when necessary to control undesirable behaviors.

Emergency and Critical Care

The specialty of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care is concerned with the treatment and care of animals suffering from traumatic injuries or the sudden onset of life-threatening diseases.


The specialty of Veterinary Dentistry is concerned with providing routine preventative dental care and oral surgery procedures to promote dental health in a variety of species.


The specialty of Veterinary Dermatology is concerned with diagnosing disorders of the skin, hair, ears, and nails. Veterinary dermatologists also identify external parasites, allergies, and other hormonal conditions which may have an impact on the condition of an animal’s skin. There are approximately 235 active diplomates in the field.


The study of Veterinary Epidemiology falls under the purview of the American College of Veterinary Preventative Medicine. Veterinary Epidemiology is the specialty concerned with the study of the origination, spread, and containment of diseases in the animal population.

Internal Medicine

The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine certifies specialists in the fields of Veterinary Cardiology, Veterinary Oncology, Veterinary Neurology, Large Animal Internal Medicine, and Small Animal Internal Medicine.

Lab Animal Medicine

The specialty of Veterinary Lab Animal Medicine is concerned with the study of rodents, rabbits, and other animals used for research purposes in a laboratory setting.


The specialty of Veterinary Microbiology is concerned with the study of bacterial, fungal, and viral diseases. The American College of Veterinary Microbiologists also certifies specialists in such areas as Veterinary Bacteriology, Veterinary Mycology, Veterinary Parasitology, Veterinary Immunology, and Veterinary Virology.


The specialty of Veterinary Nutrition is concerned with the use of nutritional management strategies to promote animal health and manage the symptoms of various diseases.


The specialty of Veterinary Opthalmology is concerned with the study of the eye and related structures, as well as the proper treatment of disorders which may have an impact on an animal’s vision.


The specialty of Veterinary Pathology is concerned with the study of disease and the changes that occur in an animal as a result of a disease’s progression. There are approximately 1,400 active diplomates in the field.

Pharmacology (Clinical)

The specialty of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology is concerned with the composition, usage, and biological effects of animal pharmaceuticals. There are approximately 36 active diplomates in the field.

Radiology and Radiation Oncology

The specialties of Veterinary Radiology and Veterinary Radiation Oncology are concerned with techniques in diagnostic imaging and radiation therapy. There are approximately 440 active diplomates in the field.

Reproductive Medicine

The specialty of Veterinary Reproductive Medicine (Theriogenology) is concerned with the study of reproductive management techniques and the treatment of reproductive disorders.


The specialty of Veterinary Surgery is concerned with utilizing advanced surgical techniques to provide care for injured or diseased animals. There are over 1,540 active diplomates in the field.


Veterinary Toxicology is a specialty concerned with the study of naturally occurring biotoxins as well the as toxic effects of some drugs, feed additives, and other environmental factors. There are approximately 90 active diplomates in the field.

Zoological Medicine

The specialty of Veterinary Zoological Medicine is concerned with the study of exotic animals kept in zoological parks including research, medical care, and treatment options. There are approximately 140 diplomates currently in the field.

  1. About.com
  2. Careers
  3. Animal Careers
  4. Education and Training
  5. Veterinary Specialists

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.