Internal Medicine

Veterinary internal medicine is cares for animals who have diseases of the internal body systems that are particularly difficult to diagnose and treat. Your primary care veterinarian is more than qualified to treat the vast majority of internal body system diseases, but certain problems can only be addressed properly by veterinarians with special training and equipment.

 

What Is A Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist?

First, it's a mouthful to say that whole thing every time, so veterinarians who specialize in internal medicine are usually just referred to as "internists." Even more abbreviated: when we refer to internal medicine as a veterinary discipline, it usually just goes by "I.M." Internists have undergone intensive (and extensive) training in how your pet's internal body systems function and, as a result, are able to uncover and treat illnesses that may fall outside the expertise of your primary care veterinarian.

The sub-disciplines whose diseases fall inside the scope of internal medicine include: endocrinology (the study of the endocrine system, which is responsible for regulating all the hormones in the body); cardiology (the study of the heart); gastroenterology (the study of the digestive tract); hematology (the study of the blood); immunology (the study of the immune system); infectious disease (the study of organisms that spread from pet to pet, causing illness); nephrology/urology (the study of the kidneys and urinary tract); neurology (the study of the brain and nervous system); respiratory disease (the study of lung and airway problems); and oncology (the study of cancer). In fact, a handful of these even have their own specialties! Veterinary cardiologists, neurologists, and oncologists treat patients with specific heart disease, nervous system disease, and cancer, respectively.

 

Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist?

If your primary care vet refers you to an internal medicine specialist, it's because they care deeply about your pet's well-being and quality of life, and think that the problem your pet is suffering from can be more effectively treated by a doctor with specialized expertise. They also understand that there are certain pieces of diagnostic equipment, like sophisticated abdominal ultrasounds, video endoscopes, or CT scanners, which only veterinary specialists use on a regular basis, and thus are better able to interpret results from.

 

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Absolutely. Your veterinary internist is only one part of your pet's health care team, and we strive to keep your primary vet as informed about your pet's treatment as possible. Depending on the nature and severity of your pet's disease, your internist may prefer to have your normal veterinarian manage your pet's case once the diagnosis and treatment plan have been created, and the internist will be involved only in a consulting role or only for periodic rechecks.

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