Pet Owners

Veterinary Specialty Center is a specialty and emergency veterinary practice. For pet families, that means your primary care veterinarian will handle preventative care and most medical treatments for your pet. Specialists are needed when your pet needs more advanced treatment – just like in human medicine when you need advanced diagnostics or a specialist to diagnose and treat a more complicated case. We are a referral hospital, which means your veterinarian will refer your pet to us so our team of specialists and our advanced diagnostic equipment are available as your next course of action. We are also open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for emergency and critical care.

We work with you, your family veterinarian, and members of our specialty team to look for solutions and to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for your pet. Our facility is home to one of the largest collections of veterinary specialists in the United States. Our specialists collaborate as they work to find a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan for your pet.

What is a Specialist?

Board-certified specialists complete at least one internship, and a three-year residency program, meet specific training and caseload requirements, perform research, and pass an exam given by their governing board. Each of the specialists at VSC brings extensive knowledge and expertise to every patient they treat. Part of the culture at VSC is our team-oriented approach that helps your pet receive the most comprehensive care possible while being treated at our hospital.

Why You Need a Referral

Since our inception in 1976, our team at Veterinary Specialty Center (VSC) has collaborated with the Chicago-area veterinary community and the families that they serve. Although some cases do come to VSC through the emergency room, a pet’s primary care veterinarian refers to most cases.

When your pet is referred to our hospital, our team will request your pet’s records, test results, and other diagnostic reports from your primary veterinarian. If you are coming to our emergency room, it often helps to have your veterinarian provide these records to us while you’re on the way to help us with the continuity of care.

Once our team sees your pet, our specialists continue to communicate with your veterinarian to keep him or her updated while diagnosing and treating your pet. That partnership continues until we can return your pet to your regular veterinarian’s care.

We Treat Emergencies without a Referral

We are also available 24 hours a day, every day if your pet needs emergency veterinary care. We can assist your pet in any type of emergency from less complex cases to severe traumas and critical illnesses. VSC is a Certified Veterinary Trauma Center by The American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care’s (ACVECC) Veterinary Committee on Trauma (VetCOT). We have also been designated as a Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care Society (VECCS) Facility at its top level – Level 1 – for having the highest standard of care concerning our staffing, continuing education, emergency capabilities, facility, and in-patient support capabilities.

We are an American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) accredited specialty hospital. If your pet does come through our ER, we will contact your primary veterinarian.


Starting Monday, April 8th through the end of September, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will begin their road resurfacing project along Waukegan Road from Lake Cook Road to Half Day Road (IL 22). Please allow additional travel time to our hospital during the construction. Learn More: Waukegan Road Resurfacing Project