Canine & Feline Practice

The Canine and Feline Practice category is ABVP’s largest, with approximately 475 active Diplomates. Most are in private practice with a primary caseload of dogs and cats. Diplomates are expected to be skilled in the art and science of medicine and surgery as well as other areas such as preventative and wellness care, behavior, and public health. An increasing number of Canine and Feline Diplomates can be found in clinical service and teaching roles at veterinary colleges. Some serve in the military or work for pharmaceutical, nutrition, or biologics companies.

The typical veterinarians who pursue Canine and Feline certification work in high-quality practices and have access to the latest equipment, supplies, and medical/surgical procedures. They routinely see interesting, complex cases and are able to work them up and manage them at a high standard. While they may refer challenging cases to specialists, most Diplomates prefer to keep patients themselves. Specialists are used as resources but are not asked to take over all of the in-depth cases. Veterinarians in limited practices such as outpatient, wellness-only, spay/neuter, shelter, or mobile may not have the proper caseload and experience to successfully complete the credentialing process. Those who primarily work in emergency/critical care settings have become Canine and Feline Diplomates but caseload can be limiting.

Certification is challenging but rewarding. Veterinarians must have at least 6 years of full-time, high-quality practice experience with dogs and cats and be able to document a commitment to high-level continuing education. They also must be able to communicate professionally and scientifically by following instructions and preparing written case reports. To pass the comprehensive examination, candidates often spend an average of 1 hour per day studying, reading textbook and journal articles, and taking courses and practice tests. There are online study groups to help with credentials and examination preparation. Two Regents are also available to answer questions and provide assistance and feedback.

The Canine and Feline Practice category is an AVMA-recognized veterinary specialty™.

There are several residency programs available. For more information, click here.

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