Orthopedic Veterinary Medicine
Simply put, an orthopedic veterinary surgeon treats broken bones, strains, sprains, and dislocations. Orthopedic surgeons work with dogs, cats, horses, and other animals. Because this is a specialized field, most veterinarians who go into this line of work must have an additional year of study on top of vet school and residency, and take an exam to become a board-certified orthopedic surgeon.
If an animal breaks a leg, he may be able to go to a local veterinarian. However, if the break is in an unusual place or requires nonroutine surgery, a specialist should be called in. Several private orthopedic practices exist. Some even offer sports medicine for pets. Just as athletes see trainers and sports doctors for preventive care, so do some animals. Working dogs, such as K-9 rescuers, assistance dogs, and show dogs, often need massage treatments, stretching, and possibly chiropractic adjustments to work limbs that are under pressure. Racehorses and other working horses also are looked after by orthopedic veterinarians. Even the active family dog who chases a Frisbee needs preventive care.
The face of veterinary medicine changes constantly. Much like medicine for humans, veterinarians are looking at alternative practices. Some use acupuncture to treat a wide variety of ailments. The veterinarian knows specific points in the body that correlate to healing the animal. Most animals actually calm down when needles are applied. The needles are unobtrusive, and vets know where the calming points in the body are located.
Orthopedic veterinary doctors earn upward of $50,000 to $60,000 starting out, and can easily earn salaries over six figures.