Neurology veterinarians are veterinary professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of neurologic diseases affecting animals.
These diseases may include those affecting the nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord. The brain is a unique organ that powers the body’s many functions and processes. A pet who suffers from neurological disorders, such as seizures or paralysis, would therefore experience reduced motor coordination and oftentimes abnormal brain development. It is the job of the veterinary neurologists to accurately identify these diseases for the timely medical intervention that would aim to uplift and prolong the quality of life in an animal.
Want to know more about how to become a veterinary neurologist? Read on to find out!
Veterinary neurology is a higher branch of veterinary medicine that specializes in the abnormalities and diseases affecting the nervous system which includes the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and the junctions between nerves and muscles.
Some diseases routinely encountered by neurology veterinarians include, but are not limited to:
• Vestibular disease
• Intervertebral disc disease
• Neuromuscular disease
• Balance disorders (inner ear or brain-stem disease)
• Brain tumors or trauma
• Congenital (present since birth) anomalies
• Degenerative myelopathy (loss of nerve function caused by disorders of the spine)
• Excessive fluid build-up within the brain (Hydrocephalus)
• Infections of inflammation (Meningitis, Encephalitis)
• Limb paralysis or weakness due to herniated intervertebral discs
• Peripheral nerve disease (neuropathies, such as Myasthenia Gravis)
Several of the common diagnostic aids used by neurology veterinarians include evaluation of radiographs, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, MRI and CT scans, myelograms, and electrodiagnostic testing which includes evaluating nerve conduction velocities as well as other electrophysiologic parameters.
The specialization requires years of studying and advanced training beyond veterinary school. The first step in becoming a neurology vet is to first become a veterinarian, which takes many years of schooling. It is beneficial to have an interest in the sciences early in your school career as this will prepare you for the several college courses that you will be required to take in order to successfully become a veterinary neurologist. It would be a great advantage to work part time at a veterinary clinic in order to familiarize yourself with animals and how the industry works.
Once you have received a bachelor’s degree, the next step is to apply to a veterinarian school and complete a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. These graduate veterinarian programs are designed to teach general practices and procedures for veterinarians.
After completing your doctorate in veterinary medicine, the next step is a one-year internship for advanced training in all fields of veterinary medicine and surgery.
After completion of the residency, the veterinarian is now eligible to receive board-certification in the specialty of neurology by passing a comprehensive test encompassing all aspects of clinical neurology as approved by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Following their internship, aspiring neurology veterinarians then enter a three-year residency training program in the specialty of veterinary neurology. This residency program will train you specifically in medical and surgical neurology.
According to their 2010 survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported a median annual wage of $82,900 for all veterinarians. The lowest ten percent of these veterinarians are reported to have earned a salary of less than $50,480 per year, while the highest ten percent of all veterinarians earned a salary of over $141,680 per year. The BLS does not separate specific salary data for each of the individual veterinary specialties, but board certified specialists like neurology veterinarians can earn top salaries due to their extensive experience and advanced qualifications.
Employment of veterinarians is projected to grow to up to 12 percent until 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Candidates can expect very strong competition for available veterinarian positions but those with specializations like neurology veterinarians should expect to have better job opportunities.
Imagine waking up and suddenly realizing that you can’t move your legs—you’re paralyzed and just trying to move a muscle is painful. Like humans, animals can also suffer from neurological problems which can be very stressful for both the animal and their owners to deal with.
Disorders of the nervous system can be very complex, and frequently require specialized diagnostic procedures and advanced imaging devices to diagnose.
Becoming a neurology veterinarian would equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills that can help cure these conditions that affect animals.
It may take years of intensive studying and strict training to become successful in this field of work. In the end, the rewards are truly plentiful for the passionate individual who seeks the invaluable experience of improving the quality of life in animals suffering from neurological problems.