Client Help Desk
Have an Emergency?
If you have a pet emergency, call San Diego (858) 875-7500 or North County (760) 466-0600. Find out more about our Emergency and Critical Care Department.
Need an Appointment?
If you need an appointment, call San Diego (858) 875-7500 or North County (760) 466-0600. Find out more about preparing for your appointment.
Choosing a Specialist?
Still undecided about using the services of a specialist, or about which specialist to take your pet to? Find out more about why Veterinary Specialty Hospital of San Diego may be the right choice for you.
Have a Question (or Comment)?
If you have a non-emergency question, call (858) 875-7500. Or you can e-mail your question or comment to us and we’ll e-mail a response as soon as possible.
- What is the difference between a family veterinarian and a veterinary specialist?
- Why would my pet need to go to VSH?
- Can VSH be my pet's family veterinary clinic?
- How do I get a referral?
A family veterinarian and a veterinary specialist both have earned their Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, requiring an undergraduate degree, 4 years of veterinary college, professional training and then successful completion of the state and national licensing boards.
Your family veterinarian, also called a primary care vet, is in general practice and has the primary responsibility to manage your pet’s overall health, including preventive care.
A veterinary specialist has typically completed 4 additional years of specialty training. This includes a 1-year internship and a 3-year residency program in a particular practice area, i.e. Internal Medicine, Neurology, Oncology, etc. To become board-certified, these candidates must also pass rigorous training and testing requirements. Graduates are called Diplomates.
Veterinary Specialty Hospital has 18 board-certified specialists, in Dentistry, Dermatology, Emergency/Critical Care, Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Radiation Oncology and Surgery.
Why would my pet need to go to Veterinary Specialty Hospital?
Your family veterinarian will refer your pet to our specialists if your pet requires specialized testing, treatments or procedures that your family veterinarian does not offer, or if specialized care can improve your pet’s quality of life. Your veterinarian’s decision to refer to Veterinary Specialty Hospital means that the optimal care of your pet is your vet’s primary concern.
Can VSH be my pet's family veterinary clinic?
No, our practice only provides specialty services and emergency & critical care services. Veterinary Specialty Hospital works directly with your family veterinarian on a referral basis. When each healthcare provider focuses on what they do best, from routine preventive care or complex treatment for a rare illness, your pet gets the most comprehensive care possible.
How do I get a referral?
If you have a health concern, please contact your primary care veterinarian. He/she will determine the best course of action. If your veterinarian decides that a referral to our hospital is appropriate, your vet will then complete a referral form and ask you to contact us to make an appointment. Book an appointment at Veterinary Specialty Hospital. Please be sure your veterinarian provides us with a copy of your pet's medical history. This can be faxed to us or you can bring it to your appointment.
If your pet's condition is an emergency and your veterinarian is unavailable, contact us at (858) 875-7500 in San Diego or (760) 466-0600 in San Marcos to arrange immediate care.