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Most of the time, your vet will be able to successfully diagnose and treat your Westie for whatever ails him or her. However, there may be times when the problem is rare/unusual/complex, and you may need the services of a board-certified veterinary specialist.
There are approximately 65,000 licensed veterinarians in the U.S. today, and about 10% of them are board-certified veterinary specialists in 20 different veterinary specialties. To become a board-certified specialist, the vet must usually complete several years of residency in their specialty and pass a rigorous examination by the board certifying organization (like the American College of Veterinary Dermatologists, or the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, etc.).
There are 20 veterinary specialties, but we will be concerned here with only the major specialties affecting canines:
Whether or not to buy pet health insurance and where to buy it for your Westie can be a very complex and confusing task. You must maneuver through premiums and deductables, administrative details on reimbursement and what diseases or treatments are covered, the age of your dog and pre-existing conditions and lots of terms and conditions and legalese. Feel like your head is about to explode?
There is a very good section on pet health insurance and financial assistance for large vet bills at the Morris Animal Foundation website.
Good background information for pet health insurance at the North American Pet Health Insurance Association website.
There are numerous companies currently offering pet health insurance in the U.S. and several in Canada: