What Is A Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist?
A board certified veterinary internal medicine specialist is a licensed veterinarian who has obtained intensive, additional training in understanding how your pet's internal body systems function and in diagnosing and treating the many serious diseases that can affect the health of those systems. An internal medicine specialist has advanced training in the following disciplines*:
- Hematology (study of the blood)
- Infectious Diseases
- Respiratory Diseases
While your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many health problems, certain diseases and conditions require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in internal medicine in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet.
*There are also veterinarians who specialize in the following specific areas of internal medicine: Cardiology, Neurology, and Oncology.
Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist?
Just as your own primary care physician may feel the need to refer you to the care of a specialist from time to time, your general practitioner veterinarian may feel your pet needs a specialist to help diagnose or treat a particularly complicated medical problem. You can be assured that a veterinarian who knows when to refer you and your pet for more specialized diagnostic work or treatment is one that is caring and committed to ensuring that your pet receives the highest standard of medical care for his or her problem.
While in some cases, your veterinarian may be able to simply consult with a specialist about your pet's care, in other cases it is necessary to actually refer you and your pet to the specialist for more advanced diagnostics and treatment. Board certified veterinary internists may also have access to specialized diagnostic or treatment tools that a general practitioner may not have.
What Health Problems Does A Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist Treat?
Board certified internal medicine specialists are trained to treat the most serious diseases and health problems that affect pets. They are also especially prepared to care for pets that may be facing multiple health problems. Thanks to better health care, more and more pets are living longer lives. As a result, an increasing number of older pets, just like older people, are coping with multiple disease states that can be very difficult to manage. For example, a cat with diabetes may also be suffering from kidney failure, or a dog with inflammatory bowel disease may also develop pancreatitis. Internal medicine specialists are uniquely prepared to oversee the care of these complicated cases. In other situations, a younger animal may develop a problem that used to be considered untreatable but is now manageable and perhaps even curable.
Here are some common diseases that frequently lead general practitioner veterinarians and concerned pet owners to seek the expertise of a board certified internist:
- Gastrointestinal diseases
- Respiratory disease
- Endocrine disorders such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Addison’s disease
- Immune mediated disorders
- Blood disorders (anemia, thrombocytopenia, others)
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease, disease of the pancreas
- Suspicion of cancer (to obtain a definitive diagnosis through advanced diagnostic testing)
- Foreign body ingestion or inhalation
Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?
Yes. The internist will update your pet’s primary care veterinarian and will work closely with him/her to provide the best healthcare team possible for your pet.
Did You Know?
There are approximately 1400 board certified veterinary internal medicine specialists in the United States, and the number is growing.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What Do I Bring to my Referral Appointment?
Be sure to bring any relevant medical records or information to your first appointment. Ask your veterinarian for copies of any relevant medical tests, imaging studies, x-rays, or laboratory panels.
Remember, you also can do your part to maximize your pet's recovery by keeping your pet's traveling medical records organized and by strictly adhering to the recommendations of your veterinary team for the scheduling of follow up appointments, etc. At every appointment, be sure to write down any important recommendations, or ask the veterinarian or a staff member to write them down for you.
Services Offered in Internal Medicine
- In-house STAT laboratory
- Abdominal ultrasonography-abdominocentesis and cystocentesis
- Thoracic ultrasonography / thoracocentesis
- Digital radiography
- Ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration
- Ultrasound-guided biopsy
- Pulse oximetry and end tidal capnography
- Nasal and transtracheal oxygen therapy
- Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL)
- Endo or trans-tracheal washing
- Supplemental feeding tube placement & management
- Endoscopy foreign body removal (esophageal, airway, gastric)
- Bone Marrow Aspirate
- Cancer Staging
- Bone Biopsy