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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have a question that is not answered here? Please send us an email at acvs@acvs.org.

Choose a topic from the list below:

Diplomates and Board Certification
Financial Aid
Surgery Questions
ACVS Foundation
Supporting Animal Health

Diplomates and Board Certification

Q: What is a Diplomate, and how is that different from being a board-certified surgeon? I thought that all veterinarians performed surgery.
A: An ACVS Diplomate is a veterinarian who has undergone additional training after veterinary school and has been certified as a specialist in surgery by the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS). Diplomates of the ACVS are often referred to as board-certified surgeons. Learn more about training to become a board-certified veterinary surgeon.

Q: When would I need to consult a board-certified surgeon?
A.  Routine procedures like spays and neuters (small animals) and castrations (large animals) can generally be performed by your primary care veterinarian. Referral to a board-certified surgeon may be recommended by your primary care veterinarian for:

  • advanced procedures or those not performed commonly
  • procedures requiring specialized equipment
  • procedures requiring intensive monitoring
  • procedures carrying more risk to the life of your pet

Q: How can I find out if a veterinary surgeon is board certified?
A: Our Find a Veterinary Surgeon directory has a list of ACVS board-certified surgeons.

Q: My veterinary surgeon says he is board certified; why can’t I find him when I search your website?
A: There are several possible reasons.

  • Some board-certified surgeons request that their information not be posted online. If your surgeon says he/she is board certified but does not appear on our website, you may contact the ACVS office to verify their certification.
  • It is possible that he/she is board certified, but in a specialty other than veterinary surgery. View a list of veterinary specialty organizations that are recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association
  • If they are in a surgery residency program, but have not completed the ACVS residency requirements, or have not passed the ACVS Certification Examination they are not considered Diplomates, and are not listed in the directory.

If you are unsure if your veterinarian is board certified or which specialty organization he/she is certified by, contact their practice to find out. 

Q: When I search for a surgeon on your website, it tells me that there are no matches found.  Are there no surgeons in my area?
A. Changing your search query may provide better results. Try the following changes:

  • try a broader search; searching by state and species will give the best results 
  • if searching by zip code, select a wider distance range
  • try entering only the last name
  • make sure to scroll down to see all of the results

Financial Aid

Q: Is financial aid available for surgical procedures?
A: Financial aid is available in select cases, but it’s very hard to come by. The demand is much greater than the available funding. For suggestions and ideas visit the Humane Society.

Q: Would a university perform the surgery for free or at a discount as a research write-off?
A: Surgeries done for research still require funding and this funding is limited. Because of this, research projects tend to focus on very specific conditions or types of surgery as opposed to more general surgeries. Typically universities have little trouble finding the animals needed for their studies, so the likelihood of them needing additional animals is small.

Surgery Questions

Q: What questions should I ask my veterinarian before my pet undergoes a procedure?
A: See our list of questions to ask your veterinarian before surgery:


Q: How can I find out if any complaints have been filed against a surgeon?
A: Contact your state's veterinary licensing board for information relating to complaints.

ACVS Foundation

Q: What is the ACVS Foundation?

A: The ACVS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization which is funded through donations and provides financial support for: 

  • research in the field of veterinary surgery
  • education of veterinary surgery residents
  • continuing education for ACVS Diplomates

Supporting Animal Health

Q: Where can I make a donation that will help improve the care of animals?
A: The ACVS Foundation welcomes your tax-deductible donations!