Internal Medicine


Why should my pet see a Board-Certified Small Animal Internal Medicine Specialist?

Commonly called “Internists”, Internal Medicine Specialists focus on diagnosing and treating diseases of the internal organ systems. Veterinary Internal Medicine encompasses the disciplines of endocrinology, gastroenterology, hematology, immunology, infectious disease, nephrology/urology and respiratory disease. Veterinary internists are trained to handle a multitude of medical problems whether rare or complex. It is not uncommon for our small animal veterinary patients to have several concurrent diseases, and treatment for one disease may affect the treatment for another disease. Where the diagnosis is already known, Internists may confirm the disease and provide extensive experience in treatment options, providing peace of mind and the highest quality of life for your pet. If a diagnosis is elusive or therapy is not proving effective, the Internist may be better able to establish a diagnosis or adjust treatment plans to get your pet back to health. Examples of conditions for which your family veterinarian might refer to an Internist include:

  • Anemia or other bleeding disorders
  • Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
  • Complicated pancreatic disease
  • Cancer
  • Coughing or other breathing problems
  • Endocrine disease
  • Infectious disease
  • Kidney or bladder disease
  • Liver disease
  • Unexplained weight loss

Common endocrine diseases are hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease), hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease), diabetes mellitus, canine hypothyroidism and feline hyperthyroidism.
Examples of gastroenterological diseases are inflammatory bowel disease, megaesophagus and feline megacolon. Immunological diseases commonly treated by veterinary internists are immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, immune-mediated thrombocytopenia and polyarthritis.
Veterinary internists also commonly diagnose and implement therapy for other medical conditions such as neoplasia (cancer) and heart failure.

What should I expect during a visit with a Board-certified Small Animal Internist?

The internist will review the information from your Family Veterinarian, and perform a complete and thorough physical examination of your animal. Based on these initial findings, additional tests will be discussed. Depending on your animal’s condition, diagnostic testing or treatments may include:

  • Advanced laboratory testing of various tissue and blood samples.
  • Diagnostic Imaging – ultrasound, radiography (x-rays), CT scans, MRIs
  • Biopsies of masses, internal organs, or bone marrow
  • Joint aspiration
  • Echocardiography/Ultrasound of the heart
  • Electrocardiography (ECG) – electrical reading of the heart’s rhythm
  • Endoscopy – bronchoscopy (lungs), cystoscopy (bladder & urethra), gastroduodenoscopy (stomach & upper intestines), colonoscopy, rhinoscopy (nasal cavity), laparoscopy (minimally invasive surgery for biopsies of internal organs)
  • Feeding tube placement
  • Nutrition consultations
  • Hospitalization and intensive care
  • Blood pressure and continuous rate infusions

When should you request a referral to a Board-Certified Internal Medicine Specialist?

Your animal’s condition is uncommon, complicated, or undiagnosed after standard testing. You would like a thorough second opinion of your pet’s condition.
The progress of the current treatments are not as good as expected/ hoped.
Your animal requires a sophisticated procedure that is only available at a specialty hospital.
Your animal can benefit from the 24-hour care provided by a referral hospital.