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Douglas Santen

Douglas Santen Staff Photo
Veterinary Specialist
Internal Medicine
Douglas Santen Staff Photo

At a Glance

Practicing Since:


Board Certified:

Small Animal Internal Medicine

Specialties Include:

Feline medicine (endocrinology, gastroenterology, kidney disease,
respiratory disease, and liver disease)

Licensed to treat hyperthyroid cats with radioactive iodine

Dr. Santen is a graduate of Iowa State University with a B.S. in Animal Science and a B.S. in Biochemistry. He also attended graduate school for two years before enrolling in the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Santen obtained his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State in 1987. After practicing for one year in Boulder, Colorado, he completed a three-year residency in Small Animal Internal Medicine at the University of Missouri. Dr. Santen is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine in Small Animal Internal Medicine. After completing the residency he joined Alameda East Veterinary Hospital in 1991. Besides his position as an Internist at Alameda East he has also served as a Regional Medical Director for VCA (2010) and as the Alameda East Medical Director (2011-2013).

Dr. Santen is well trained and experienced in all areas of feline and canine internal medicine. However, he has a particular interest and expertise in feline medicine (endocrinology, gastroenterology, respiratory disease, and kidney disease). Dr. Santen is actively involved in the treatment of feline hyperthyroidism with radioactive iodine. Over the last two decades, Dr. Santen has also been involved in numerous FDA clinical drug trials with various pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Santen is a member of local, state and national veterinary medicine organizations. He is also a member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. In his off time Dr. Santen enjoys road cycling, hiking, skiing, reading and traveling. He has been married to his wife, Nancy, for over thirty years. Their daughter, a teacher in the Cherry Creek School District, lives in Denver with her husband. The Santen household has been home to numerous wonderful kitties over the years.

See our departments

Internal Medicine

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.

Our Internal Medicine Team

Veterinarian Board Eligible Specialist - Internal Medicine
VCA Alameda East Veterinary Hospital

9770 East Alameda Ave

Denver, CO 80247

Main: 720-975-2804

Fax: 303-344-8150

Hospital Hours:

    Mon-Sun: Open 24 hours

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