If you have a pet emergency, please call our North County (760-466-0600) or San Diego (858-875-7500) office immediately. You can also read our emergency veterinary tips and advice to learn how to care for your pet until you reach the Veterinary Specialty Hospital location nearest you.
If you have obtained a referral and need an appointment, please call North County (760-466-0600) or San Diego (858-875-7500) to speak with our team. You can also learn how to prepare for your veterinary hospital appointments online.
If you're not sure your pet needs a specialist, learn what the veterinary healthcare specialists and services at VSH can do for your pet.
If you have a non-emergency question or comment, please call (858) 875-7500 or send us an email.
- 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, four 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, however, has typically completed four additional years of specialty training. This includes a one-year internship and a three-year residency program in a particular practice area, e.g. internal medicine, neurology, oncology, etc. To become board-certified, these candidates must also pass rigorous training and testing requirements. Graduates are often referred to as Diplomates.
At VSH we have fifty-three veterinarians, including 28 board-certified specialists in the areas of surgery, internal medicine, medical oncology, radiation oncology, neurology and neurosurgery, ophthalmology, diagnostic imaging, emergency/critical care, anesthesiology and dermatology serve the community.
If your pet is in need of any of these specialized services, please call us at (858) 875-7500 or speak with your family veterinarian about booking veterinary hospital appointments at VSH.
Why would my pet need to visit a 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 you to VSH means that the optimal care of your pet is your vet's primary concern.
Our specialists at VSH work closely with your family veterinarian to coordinate your pet's overall care plan. We make sure that you and your veterinarian are informed and consulted about treatment.
Can VSH be my pet's family veterinary clinic?
No, our practice only provides specialty services and emergency care, rather than the regular, preventive veterinary hospital appointments you receive from your family vet. VSH 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 obtain a referral?
If your pet has 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 book a veterinary hospital appointment.
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 (760) 466-0600 in North County or (858) 875-7500 in San Diego or to arrange for immediate care.