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Like people, animals can develop a variety of illnesses requiring the skilled expertise of a knowledgeable, board-certified internal medicine specialist. At VCA Veterinary Care Animal Hospital and Referral Center, our board-certified internists have extensive training, including specialized internships and residencies, and must pass rigorous examinations to achieve their certification.

Our Internal Medicine specialists, Dr. Phil Ries and Dr. Thomas Hribernik, have over 55 years experience in treating difficult internal medicine cases. They have worked extensively in all facets of internal medicine, including liver & pancreatic disorders, heart & lung disease, diseases of the stomach and intestines, and many more. Our internists are trained to treat the most serious diseases and health problems that affect pets and they are 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 medical problems 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.

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. At VCA veterinary Care Animal Hospital and Referral Center, our compassion, our multi-disciplinary team approach and our advanced technology help to ensure the very best care for your pet.

In addition to your internal medicine specialist, our hospital has a team of specialists, including surgery, oncology, and cardiology, as well as a wide range of other specialists, who can assist in the treatment and care of your pet. VCA veterinary Care Animal Hospital and Referral Center prides itself on professional leadership, thorough diagnostics, state-of-the-art equipment, exceptional patient care and client service. Our team approach is to emphasize active collaboration within the department and with other specialty services to form a comprehensive plan for diagnosis and treatment. We believe that a strong mix of compassion and competence enhances service to our clients and their pets.

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 (hormonal diseases)
  • Cardiology
  • Gastroenterology (diseases of the stomach, intestine, liver pancreas)
  • Hematology (study of the blood)
  • Immunology (diseases of the immune system)
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Nephrology/Urology (diseases of the kidney and bladder)
  • Neurology
  • Respiratory Diseases (diseases of the lung)
  • 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.

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 2000 board certified veterinary internal medicine specialists in the United States, and the number is growing.

VCA veterinary Care Animal Hospital and Referral Center internists work with you, as pet owner, and also in concert with your family veterinarian, who manages your pet's general well-care, and continually provide him/her with updates regarding your pet's treatment at our facility. For more information about our Internal Medicine Service or to speak with us about your pet, please contact our Internal Medicine Department at 505 296-2982 or email us at [email protected]

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.

Our Internal Medicine Team

Veterinary Specialist

Our Internal Medicine Services

Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL)
Diagnosis and Medical Management of Liver Shunts
Endo or Trans-Tracheal Washing
Endoscopy Foreign Body Removal (esophageal, airway, gastric)
Esophageal Stricture Management (including ballooning)
Radioactive Iodine Therapy for Feline Hyperthyroidism
Supplemental Feeding Tube Placement & Management
Tracheal Stent Placement
Urethral Stent Placement

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