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The line between the working dog and the dog performing in competitive sports is blurred and ancient. Greyhounds were so treasured in ancient times that only the aristocracy was allowed to own them. Although, Greyhounds were commonly used for hunting there is evidence at least as far back as 2500 BC that dogs looking very much like our present-day Greyhounds were used for competitive racing. Greyhound racing became a staple in Great Britain. The artificial lure, oval track in the 1920’s and legalized parimutuel betting in the 1930’s set the stage for widespread Greyhound racing in the United States.

Of course, for centuries Foxhounds, Deerhounds, Beagles, Pointers and many other breeds were hunting companions. These animals were responsible for many a meal eaten in homes around the world.

Although training methods were studied in great detail, it wasn’t until the fact that the same scientific approach to human diseases was applicable to our sporting companions that veterinary medicine became involved with sporting animals. This area of interest started to blossom in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Bateman in Veterinary Record noted in 1950 the accessory carpal bone fracture common to racing Greyhounds and described a surgical repair.

In the last two to three decades, an entire new area of canine human interaction has proliferated. Canine events are held by the thousands all over the world with very close knit-societies formalizing the rules and standardizing competitive achievements and goals. Likewise, the marriage of veterinary medicine to the improvement of dog health has given valuable hunting animals a second chance rather than the alternative of being replaced.

Veterinarians are just starting to recognize their potential role as valued partners in recommending fitness protocols as well as their medical role in treating sporting injuries.

Popular and competitive sports such as agility, flyball, lure coursing, weight pulling, dock diving, Greyhound racing, disc dog, carting, mushing and fox hunting are activities that not only need specialized training but also each has their own set of potential physical injuries determined by the stresses that the dog may encounter. Also, specific conformations may expose the competitor to specific injuries not common to different individuals competing in the same event.

The demands placed upon the animal competing in events based predominately upon confirmation also have many areas that would make the veterinarian the natural expert. Areas such as nutrition, dental and skin health, as well as overall conditioning are critical in conformation competitions. Today veterinarians are playing an increasingly active role in bringing these beautiful animals to perfect form.


Our hospital is actively involved in conditioning animals for competition and in recognizing common injuries in those animals that compete. We are becoming more aware of the forces and conditions that lead to injury. We are proud to bring our expertise to this new area of veterinary medicine and have a great facility and staff to make these athletes get to their next level of competition.

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What Is A Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon?

A board certified veterinary surgeon is a licensed veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional surgical training. A veterinary surgeon can offer special assistance in the following kinds of cases:

  • Acute crises and traumatic injury requiring emergency surgery (such as fractures, skin wounds and lacerations, internal bleeding, correction of gastric dilatation-volvulus, and exploratory procedures).
  • Orthopedic surgeries (such as repair of medial patellar luxation and cruciate ligament tears, and arthroscopy for joint exploration).
  • Soft tissue surgeries (such as tumor/cancer removal and correction of congenital defects).
  • Neurological surgeries (such as herniated discs and spinal injuries).

While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems, certain diseases and conditions require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive surgical training in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet. Your veterinary surgeon will work closely with your general practitioner veterinarian, as well as'"depending on your pet's condition'"other board certified specialists in internal medicine, veterinary oncology, veterinary neurology, and veterinary radiology.

Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Surgeon?

Just as your own primary care physician may feel the need to refer you to the care of a specialist from time to time, your general practitioner veterinarian may feel your pet needs the additional expertise of a board certified surgeon for certain surgeries. In fact, many general practitioner veterinarians refer all but the most routine of surgeries to specialists'"orthopedic and neurology cases, reconstructive surgeries, tumor removals, etc.

Board certified veterinary surgeons also are often affiliated with referral hospitals like VCA Shoreline where they have access to specialized diagnostic or surgical equipment, the latest and safest anesthesia monitoring equipment, physical therapy or rehabilitation capabilities, and other critical care services that a general practitioner may not have access to. All of these specialized services may be necessary for the optimal care and recovery of your pet.

You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet to a veterinary surgeon is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of care for his or her problem.

What Kinds of Problems Require the Expertise of a Veterinary Surgeon?

Board certified veterinary surgeons can repair complex fractures, perform total hip replacements, and use advanced techniques to repair torn ligaments (ruptured cruciate ligaments) within the knee. They can also remove cancerous growths, manage extensive or non-healing wounds, and perform reconstructive surgery, such as grafting skin over large injuries. Veterinary surgeons can perform intricate surgeries in the chest or abdomen, such as kidney transplants in cats or repairing heart defects in dogs. Spinal injuries and herniated discs are problems that are also commonly referred to board certified surgeons. Veterinary surgery is also expanding into minimally invasive surgery, such as arthroscopy, thorascopy, and laparoscopy.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

In many if not most surgical cases, your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's veterinary care, especially if your pet is continuing to cope with a disease or chronic condition. It depends on your pet's particular disease and health problem, however. Typically, though, your general practitioner veterinarian will oversee many aspects of your pet's pre-op and post-op care, just as in human medicine. Recovery periods are often prolonged in many surgical cases, particularly in orthopedic surgery, and it is very important to follow your veterinary team's recommendations concerning at-home recovery guidelines for your pet, follow up care and appointments, as well as any rehabilitation that has been prescribed.

Did You Know?

Just as in humans, a pet's recovery from veterinary surgery can go more smoothly or even result in a better outcome with the addition of rehabilitation options. Your pet's veterinarian can tell you if physical therapy is recommended in your pet's case.

Just as in people, laser surgery is becoming a much more common surgical technique in veterinary medicine, bringing with it the same advantages of reduced blood loss and shorter recovery times.

If you think that your pet may be a candidate for veterinary surgery, ask your general practioner veterinarian for a referral to VCA Shoreline today.

Our Surgery Services

Advanced Anesthetic Monitoring
Bone and Joint Surgery
Bone Biopsy
Brain and Spinal Surgery

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