Internal Medicine

Board-certified Internists are veterinarians who have received advanced training after veterinary school in the diagnosis and management of diseases that affect the organs and endocrine (hormone) systems of the body. They have typically completed one or more internships and a three year residency in an approved program. In addition, they have passed numerous exams and have demonstrated the knowledge, proficiency, and skills to be awarded certification by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. In other words, they are individuals that have dedicated years of their life to the study and practical training in their chosen specialty far beyond what a typical graduate veterinarian would.

Some of the conditions a Board-certified Internist may diagnose and treat include:

  • Renal (kidney) disease
  • Gastro-intestinal diseases (diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestines, and large intestines)
  • Liver and Pancreas diseases
  • Endocrine conditions (hormone disturbances such as Thyroid disease, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, Diabetes, etc)
  • Immune Mediated (auto-immune) diseases
  • Respiratory conditions (diseases of the nose, airways, and lungs)
  • Infectious diseases
  • Urinary Incontinence/Cystitis (Bladder infections)

Board-certified Internists work closely with your family veterinarian and are an integral part of the team once a problem is detected. Internists often utilize specialized testing to diagnose illness. The tests may include:

  • Ultrasound examinations
  • Radiographs (x-rays)
  • Gastro-intestinal Endoscopy (esophagus, stomach, and small bowel)
  • Blood testing
  • CT/MRI studies
  • Cystoscopy (visualizing urethra and urinary bladder)
  • Rhinoscopy (visualizing nasal passages)

In addition, board-certified internists can provide advanced procedures when necessary. Some examples of these are:

  • Endoscopic-guided biopsies
  • Ultrasound-guided biopsies
  • Tracheal stent placement (for collapsing trachea)
  • Urethral stent placement
  • Endoscopic-guided foreign body removal
  • PEG (feeding tube) tube placement
  • Dialysis

This is a short, and by no means complete list of the type of procedures a board-certified internist can provide.

VCA West Coast Animal Specialty and Emergency Hospital strongly believes in the triad of care. You, your family veterinarian, and your VCA West Coast internist will become a team working together to provide your pet with the best possible care. Working together with an internist, your family veterinarian may be able to perform some or most of the needed care after diagnosis.

If you or your veterinarian believe your pet may benefit from an consultation with an internist, please contact us. Additional information is available at

Frequently Asked Questions

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.