VCA Mission Animal Referral and Emergency Center

Internal Medicine

Why does my animal need to see a Board-Certified Small Animal Internist?

Commonly called Internists, these Specialists focus on diagnosing and treating diseases of the internal systems. Where the diagnosis is known, an Internist may confirm the
diagnosis and treatment, providing piece of mind. If a diagnosis is proving elusive or therapy is not proving effective, the Internist may be better able to find the diagnosis or adjust treatment plans to get your animal back to health.

Examples of conditions for which your family veterinarian might refer your animal to an Internist are:

  • Anemia or other bleeding disorders
  • Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
  • Complicated pancreatic disease
  • Coughing & other breathing problems
  • Endocrine disease (adrenal tumors, complicated diabetes, thyroid disorders)
  • Infectious disease
  • Kidney or bladder disease
  • Liver inflammation
  • Unexplained weight loss

An internist provides the following procedures:

Neurology
Neurologic examination, spinal tap with fluid analysis, CT, MRI

Cardiology evaluation
EKG, echocardiography, blood pressure, pericardiocentesis

Respiratory
Rhinoscopy, tracheobronchoscopy, tracheal wash, bronchoalveolar lavage, thoracocentesis, radiography, nasal lavage

Alimentary
Endoscopy of upper and lower intestinal tract for visualization and biopsy, foreign body retrieval, and feeding tube placement; ultrasound, ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration or needle biopsy; barium enhanced radiography

Urinary tract
Cystoscopy, vaginoscopy, ultrasound, urohydropulsion, contrast radiographic procedures, ultrasound guided aspirate or biopsy of kidney, prostate, bladder and prostate wash for cytological evaluation of disease.

Oncology
Cytologic evaluation, biopsy, chemotherapy

Advanced endocrinologic evaluation and treatment Radioiodine for feline hyperthyroidism 

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:

  • Endocrinology 
  • Cardiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Hematology (study of the blood)
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Nephrology/Urology
  • Neurology
  • Respiratory Diseases
  • Oncology

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.

*Within the discipline of veterinary internal medicine, there are also veterinarians who specialize further in Small Animal 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. While your general practitioner veterinarian can handle many aspects of your pet's care, just as in human medicine, there is sometimes a need for the attention of a specialist. 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 veterinarian 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 in heart failure may also be diagnosed with cancer. 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 specialist:

  • Cancer
  • Heart Disease
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Immune Related Disorders
  • Kidney Dysfunction

Why Can't I See an Internal Medicine Specialist All the Time?

In some cases you can. In many practices, the 'general practitioner' veterinarian at a practice is also a boarded internal medicine specialist. General practice veterinarians, however, are also highly educated medical professionals who must meet ongoing continuing education requirements throughout their professional careers in order to maintain their licensure. When a specialist is needed, he or she is only a phone call or a visit away.

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

In many cases, your regular veterinarian will still supervise your pet's veterinary care, especially if your pet is coping with multiple disease states or conditions. In other cases, your referral doctor will take over the majority of your pet's medical care. It depends on your pet's particular disease and health problem.

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.
 

Commonly Asked Questions

Visiting hours

Our visiting hours are 6:30am-7:00am & 6:30pm-7:30pm, or by appointment with the attending doctor. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Can VCA Mission be my regular veterinary clinic?

No, our hospital only provides emergency and referral services. We do work directly with your primary care veterinarian on a referral basis. Referrals make it much easier for the VCA Mission team to coordinate the utmost care for your pet.

How do I get a referral?

If you have an initial concern about your pet, please contact your regular veterinarian. He or she will determine whether a visit to our hospital is necessary.

If your pet's condition is an emergency, you or your veterinarian should contact our hospital immediately to arrange the appropriate care needed.

Will my regular veterinarian be updated about my pet?

Yes. Our doctors will keep a constant stream of communication in regards to your pet's condition(s). A faxed report and a follow-up phone usually takes place.

Commonly Asked Questions

Visiting hours

Our visiting hours are 6:30am-7:00am & 6:30pm-7:30pm, or by appointment with the attending doctor. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

Can VCA Mission be my regular veterinary clinic?

No, our hospital only provides emergency and referral services. We do work directly with your primary care veterinarian on a referral basis. Referrals make it much easier for the Mission MedVet team to coordinate the utmost care for your pet.

How do I get a referral?

If you have any initial concern about your pet, please contact your regular veterinarian. He or she will determine whether a visit to our hospital is necessary.

If your pet's condition is an emergency, you or your veterinarian should contact our hospital immediately to arrange the appropriate care needed.

Will my regular veterinarian be updated about my pet?

Yes. Our doctors will keep a constant stream of communication in regards to your pet's condition(s). A faxed report and a follow-up phone usually takes place.

Services Offered in Internal Medicine

Veterinarians in Internal Medicine

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General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

Find a VCA General Care Animal Hospital near you:

 

See all VCA Animal Hospitals >

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Emergency Care

VCA Mission Animal Referral and Emergency Center '" 913-722-5566

In a life-threatening emergency situation, take your pet to an emergency facility immediately. Heavy or difficult breathing, weakness or collapse, pain/vocalizing, seizures, protracted vomiting or diarrhea, and unresponsiveness are just a few signs that warrant immediate attention. If your pet has ingested a poison or medication not prescribed for it, call one of the emergency numbers below. You may be instructed to make your pet vomit. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to by a veterinarian. Bring the poison or medication container with you.

ASPCA Poison Control '" 1-888-426-4435

Use caution when moving an injured, painful, distressed, or disoriented pet. A fearful or painful animal may bite, regardless of its normal temperament. Speak soothingly and calmly, move slowly, and wear gloves. Your pet should be moved as little as possible. An injured pet should be transported on a stretcher or board, or, in the case of smaller animals, a carrier or box with sturdy base. A muzzle may be useful if your pet is painful but should not be used if your pet is having difficulty breathing. Covering your pet with a blanket or towel may help prevent heat loss and may encourage calmness. Most importantly, stay calm and drive carefully. 

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