5 Specialist vet services you didn’t know existed

specialist vet inspects dog

As great as veterinarians are at their job, it is impossible to know everything about everything. This is the reason why some vets choose to specialise into specific fields which they enjoy and excel at. Verterinary specialisation is a difficult process, requiring around 10 years of training, combined with examinations and clinical research. This ensures that specialists have exceptional depth of knowledge and experience.

There are some specialties that are very well known to dog owners, such as surgery. But here, let’s cover 5 specialist services available at SASH, that you may not know existed.

Oncology (cancer specialists)

Statistics show that cancer affects 50% of dogs over the age of 10. It is likely that you, or someone you know has firsthand experience with cancer in dogs. For this reason, veterinary oncology is one of the fastest developing specialties. Today, veterinary oncology is rapidly catching up to advancements in human oncology, with leading veterinary hospitals across the world adopting models similar to human cancer centres. The SASH Cancer Centre is made up of a team of not one, but three different types of oncologists.

  • Surgical Oncologists operate to remove as much of the tumour as possible
  • Medical Oncologists use drugs such as chemotherapy to treat cancers
  • Radiation Oncologists use radiation therapy to shrink tumours

Gold-standard cancer treatment requires a combination of the three oncologists working together to treat a single patient. SASH Sydney is proud to offer its one-of-a-kind Cancer Centre service to dogs all over Australia.

surgeon performing surgery on a dog

Neurology & neurosurgery (brain doctors and surgeons)

The brain and spine are extremely complex body systems that are understandably important. For this reason, SASH has not one, but a team of Neurologists & Neurosurgeons to ensure best possible outcomes for neurological patients. Common issues that are investigated by a Neurologist & Neurosurgeon include seizures, paralysis, slipped discs, change in behaviour, loss of senses, unexplained pain, and much more.

The diagnostics and treatment for neurological conditions are also complicated. Neurologists & Neurosurgeons are well trained to provide thorough physical examinations and perform nerve testing to identify the problem. They are also well versed with advanced imaging, such as MRI. Treatment can be variable, involving medication, physiotherapy, and even brain and spinal surgeon.

specialist vet analysing dog in water tank

Sports Medicine & Rehab (injury prevention and treatment)

Sports medicine is one of the newest fields of veterinary science. As such, Sports Medicine Vets are hard to find. Many people are already familiar with canine physiotherapy, but sports medicine takes this to a completely different level. Although popular with canine athletes, sports medicine is not just for competitive dogs. The aim of sports medicine to is allow all dogs to move freely and painlessly, without surgical interventions.

Although SASH Sports Medicine Vets are well trained to deliver physiotherapy, their toolbox is much larger, as they are also fully qualified veterinarians, with the authority to prescribe medications and more advanced therapies, such as platelet rich plasma and stem cell therapies.

Sports Medicine Vets are invaluable in supporting other specialists such as Neurosurgeons and Surgeons to provide effective rehab to help patients return to a high quality of life after major surgeries.

specialist vet performing operation on dog

Critical Care (ICU specialist)

Critical Care Specialists (also known as Criticalists) are one of the lesser-known team members of a specialist hospital. You cannot book an appointment to see a Criticalist, and to be honest, you probably hope you would never have to speak to one. Criticalists take care of the most severely ill patients, those at death’s door within the hospital’s ICU.

Criticalists often take over cases from other vets, such as Emergency Vets or Surgeons, when patients are deemed to be too medically unstable. This can happen after major trauma (such as car accidents), allergic reactions, toxicities, or when a disease has progressed too rapidly. After major surgeries, dogs may go under the care of a criticalist as precautionary measure.

The SASH Critical Care team is one of the largest, if not the largest in the country. They serve as an important safety net for the hospital, each year, giving thousands of dogs a second chance.

Canine Blood Bank

Everyone has heard of the Australian Red Cross, who’s mission is to ensure there is enough life-saving blood available for those that need it. The same thing also happens for dogs. The SASH Canine Blood Bank is needed to withdraw, screen, store, and provide blood to dogs that require blood transfusions.

Generally, owners can nominate their pets for the blood donation process, which requires their dogs to meet health criteria. Blood is an essential and precious resource that relies on the generosity of dogs and owners to volunteer to help other dogs in need. The donation process is harmless to healthy dogs and is made as pleasant as possible for the donor. As a token of appreciation, a gift, such as a large bag of dog food is given to the generous donor.

Unfortunately, very few dog owners are aware that dogs can donate blood, so there is always a shortage of blood and blood products. If you would like to help save lives, please visit

Melbourne Dog Lovers Festival

Come out and ask specialist vets any questions you may have at Melbourne Dog Lovers Festival 2022 from Friday the 14th – 16th October. Find out more here.

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