FAQs

What is an Animal Specialist?
We get this a lot, since it is not only in our name, it’s also what makes us who we are. There are different levels of care when it comes to staying healthy. Primary care physicians are trained to evaluate health and provide preventative care. They are well suited to handle a wide range of diseases and injuries.

The same is true for veterinarians. They work diligently to care for the health of our pets, helping us take preventative steps including vaccination, deworming and yearly check-ups. They are equipped to handle a wide array of diseases and illnesses. Your family veterinarian performs many jobs, including taking x-rays, inducing anesthesia and performing surgery. However, as with physicians, some diseases and injuries may require more in-depth or complicated care, and that is when a specialist gets involved.

According to Merriam Webster…
A specialist is defined as “an expert who is devoted to one occupation or branch of learning, or who practices one branch of medicine.” In the veterinary world, “specialist” is a little more specific – it refers to someone that has received 3-4 years of extra, highly specific training in that specialty, and has passed the national board exam for that specialty. “Board-eligible” specialists have received the required training, but have not yet taken the board exam.

Multi-Specialty = Massive Advantage
In most cases where a specialist is required, patients are referred to a singular specialist in a singular office, only to be referred to another specialist in another discipline in another office, for further consultation.

But not at VCA ASG. Because while many patients referred to VCA ASG also require the input of different specialists, there is a big difference here – all of our specialists are in the same practice, in the same facility, and on the same staff. Consultations with 2, 3 or sometimes even more specialists are commonplace, and they all occur right here, without the need for additional appointments, costs or drive-time between offices.

And while this is much more convenient for pet owners by helping to streamline the process while keeping the cost of specialty healthcare down, it’s the pets who benefit the most – having virtually everything they could possibly need right here, under one collaborative roof.

Why am I being referred to a specialist?
Your family veterinarian will refer you to a specialist when your pet requires further specialized tests, treatments, or proce­dures that your family veterinarian does not offer. Because a specialist has undergone the additional years of training and other requirements, they are leaders in their field and will have more insight into your pet’s specific illness or injury. They will work with you and your family veterinarian to develop a treatment plan that is best suited for you and your pet.

How do I get a referral?
If you are concerned about your pet’s health, please contact your fam­ily veterinarian. They should always be the first person you turn to when your pet is ill or injured, the exception being if it is an emergency and your veterinarian’s office is closed. Your family veterinarian will perform all the appropriate tests and if they believe your pet is in need of additional, specialized care, they will refer you to one of our specialists. Your veterinarian will complete a referral form and have you schedule an appointment with one of our specialists. Please bring a copy of your pet’s recent history, and any lab or diagnostic test results with you. If you have any questions about our referral process, please talk to our front office staff.

Your veterinarian will complete a referral form, and have you schedule an appointment with one of our specialists.

What should I expect during the referral process?
Once your family veterinarian has determined that your pet needs to see a specialist, they will provide you with our contact information to schedule an appointment, a completed referral form, and all medical records needed for your appointment. At your appointment, our specialist will examine your pet and may need to perform some additional tests in order to ass­ess your pet’s current condition. We will then work with you and your family veterinarian to determine the best treatment option(s) for your pet. This team approach ensures the most comprehensive medical care possible.

What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept all major credit cards, personal checks, and cash. We also accept CareCredit—a low or no cost financing option for qualified applicants—and pet insurance.

Do you accept pet insurance?
Yes. Pet insurance is becoming a more common option for those wishing to provide the best possible care for their pet (some employers offer pet insurance plans as part of their employee benefits packages). There are various pet insurance companies in the market today, so be sure to research which plan best fits your family’s budget and your pet’s health needs. Your pet insurance company will supply you with the claim forms you will need to bring with you to your veterinary practice and have the veterinary staff complete. You pay the veterinary practice directly, and then mail or fax the claim form to the insurance company. They will reimburse you the appropriate amount allocated by your plan.

What do I do if my pet needs emergency care?
If your pet is in need of emergency care, please contact us at 818-244-7977 immediately. You do not need a referral and we are open for emergencies 24/7.

Why should my pet be admitted the day before surgery?
There are several reasons. Pre-operative blood work or other laboratory tests can be completed and evaluated before your pet undergoes anesthesia. It gives us time to familiarize your pet with the hospital surroundings and staff, potentially lessening their stress at the time of surgery. Our surgeons perform a complete physical exam of all surgery patients early on the morning of surgery, before the entire surgical staff discusses each individual case to evaluate findings, and review the pre-surgical, surgical, and post-surgical plans.

What should I bring for my pet’s hospitalization?
Please be sure to bring in any medications and/or special diets that your pet is currently using. The hospital is equipped with many cushioned beds and comfortable blankets, but you are welcome to bring in a small blanket or toy for your pet.

When should I call for an update on my pet that is having surgery?
Your doctor will be performing surgeries and procedures throughout the day. A doctor will contact you after surgery. Depending on caseload, the surgeons may need to continue their care for the patients throughout the day and may not be able to call you to discuss your pet until the end of the day. If you have not received a call by 5:00 p.m., please feel free to contact our hospital at that time for an update. Please keep in mind that “no news is good news” and you will be contacted immediately if there is any reason to do so.

When will my pet be discharged from the hospital?
All hospitalized patients receive detailed physical examinations and are discussed in hospital rounds each morning. The doctors will determine at that time whether your pet will be released to go home, and will contact you prior to mid-day to give an update or time of discharge. If you do not hear from a staff member by noon, please feel free to call us for an update. We generally like to keep the animals that are scheduled to go home in the hospital until the afternoon.

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Highly knowledgeable and skilled veterinarians and well-trained, qualified staff are ready for your pet and you.
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