Like human medicine, veterinary medicine is more specialized today than ever. Specialists have become available not only in the traditional specialty fields, such as surgery and internal medicine, but also in newer, narrower areas of expertise, such as animal behavior and radiation oncology. The competition for residency positions in which these specialists are trained has never been higher, and referral hospitals are springing up everywhere. General practitioners seem to be using specialists for their dog and cat patients, but are they using them for avian and exotic species as well? Are avian and exotic pet owners willing to spend extra time and money for specialty care for their pets, like dog and cat owners seem to do? What factors influence these clients' decisions about specialty care for their exotic pets?
To answer these questions, I have invited 4 general practitioners who see avian and exotic pets to participate in a round table discussion. The participants are Jacquelyn Arns, DVM, Veterinary Emergency Group, White Plains, NY, USA; Donald Factor, DVM, West End Veterinary Office, Newburgh, NY, USA; Wendy Emerson, DVM, Putnam Veterinary Clinic, Topsfield, MA, USA; and Kathy Liez, VMD, Rothman Animal Hospital, Collingswood, NJ, USA. I hope this discussion will make us (exotic animal practitioners) aware of some of the unique issues we may face in recommending specialized care for our exotic animal patients and how to best deal with these issues. Thank you to all the participants for your very helpful input.