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As pet healthcare develops, veterinary specialists are becoming vital

The health concerns of pets are diverse. Specialists' extensive understanding enables them to accurately diagnose and manage complex and rare illnesses

See a specialist if your pet's condition is complicated.(iStock photo.)

By Dr Nameeta Nadkarni

LAST PUBLISHED 21.09.2023  |  01:00 PM IST

For all these years, a veterinarian has been expected to be an expert on every species and capable of identifying and treating any illness. It is becoming more and more clear that specialisation in the field of veterinary medicine is necessary as pet healthcare develops. All over the country, veterinary clinics are modernising to offer cutting-edge diagnostic equipment, including MRI and CT scans, endoscopy, and ultrasound, enabling the accurate and timely diagnosis of numerous illnesses.

Veterinary specialists, who concentrate on particular facets of animal health, are now gradually becoming an essential component of the pet healthcare system. Specialists in disciplines including cardiology, anaesthesia, ophthalmology, cancer, exotic animal medicine, neurology, dermatology, and more are currently growing in India. Their extensive understanding enables them to accurately diagnose and manage complex and rare illnesses. “The idea that we can give pet parents comfort and hope, significantly improve quality of life, and, in some cases, cure a disease like cancer in pets if appropriately treated is what initially piqued my interest in oncology," says Dr Noopur Desai, senior oncologist and founder of The Cancer Vet, a network of cancer-care clinics.

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Dr Desai says veterinary oncologists work with pet parents to establish treatment goals and provide thorough information on the disease process, prognosis, and potential adverse effects. This increases the likelihood of good outcomes by enabling more precise diagnoses and specialised treatment strategies.

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Each pet is different, and their health concerns can be equally diverse. Specialists take the time to identify the unique needs of each patient and create individualised treatment plans. With this tailored approach, your pet will get the best treatment possible for their particular needs and ailments. Dr Desai says, “Veterinary oncologists collaborate closely with pet parents to design palliative care plans that focus on improving the pet’s quality of life, controlling pain, and easing distressing symptoms in cases where the disease is advanced and curative options may not be viable."

Specialists in veterinary medicine can handle medical conditions that may fall outside the purview of conventional practitioners. Pet owners can feel more at ease knowing that their furry friend is getting the best treatment possible when they are aware that the healthcare team caring for them comprises both specialists and general practitioners. The partnership of veterinary cardiologists with general practitioners, according to Dr Deepti Deshpande, a Mumbai-based consulting veterinary cardiologist and anaesthesiologist, is a unique chance to provide comprehensive veterinary care under one roof. This makes it convenient for the primary veterinary practice as well as for pet parents who already have a rapport with their primary vet, she says.

If your pet’s medical condition is complicated and does not improve after trying initial therapies, you might think about seeing a specialist. For some conditions, visiting a veterinarian who is an expert in that subject as a preventative measure can also be considered. Dr Deshpande contends that early screening for cardiac disease, diagnosis, and treatment can increase the longevity of pets and provide a better quality of life. She also suggests routine heart exams with a specialist prior to anaesthetic procedures so that the anaesthetist can be ready for complications that could arise.

Also read: When to take your pet to the vet

The emergence of veterinary specialists in India is a testament to the evolving role of pets in our lives. Our dedication to safeguarding the health of pets grows as our knowledge of pet health expands. Specialised care provides our pets with access to a wide range of expertise, state-of-the-art facilities, and tailored treatments, ultimately leading to happier, healthier, and longer lives for our beloved companions.

Nameeta Nadkarni is a practising veterinary soft tissue surgeon and pet blogger from Mumbai.

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