Many pet owners are unaware that veterinary medicine has specialists. And, as with human medicine, there are numerous specialties for pets. One of them is internal medicine. An internist is a board-certified specialist in veterinary internal medicine. Our Weldon Spring vets explain.
What is an Internal Medicine Specialist?
The majority of primary care veterinarians complete bachelor's degrees before entering veterinary school for four years. Internists who are board-certified go through the same process, but they also have to complete an internship, a three-year internal medicine residency, and rigorous board exams. Before they can be designated as a specialist, the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine requires a minimum of four years of additional training.
What Does an Internal Medicine Specialist Do?
Internists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of internal system disorders in cats and dogs, including the liver, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and lung/airway. They understand the intricate relationships between all of your pet's organs and body systems, as well as how to address the underlying causes of disease.
To obtain an accurate diagnosis, specialized diagnostic testing is often required. Ultrasound, CT scan, blood tests, biopsies, endoscopy, and other advanced diagnostic procedures will provide the most accurate image of what is going on in your pet.
Why Would My Pet Need to See an Internal Medicine Specialist?
Internal medicine is one of the most diverse and all-encompassing veterinary medical disciplines. When traditional medicines fail to adequately manage disease and baseline diagnostic testing fails to diagnose a sick pet, a veterinary internist can assist in getting to the source of the problem. Some ailments can be healed, but chronic diseases frequently necessitate life-long management to ensure that pets have a good quality of life.
Veterinary internists are educated to assess every aspect of a pet's history and clinical findings to recommend the best diagnoses and therapy based on the overall clinical picture.
What Health Conditions Can an Internist Help Treat?
Some pets have uncommon or difficult-to-manage diseases or complications that necessitate more extensive therapy and monitoring. Internal medicine professionals can advise you on the best treatment for your pet. They can collaborate with other professionals, such as veterinary neurologists and oncologists, to create the best strategy for your animal's health.
Some of the most common conditions an internal medicine specialist can help with include:
Infectious Diseases: Because of their contagious nature and frequently catastrophic effects, infectious diseases, such as parvo and canine influenza, should be treated aggressively. As a result, hospitals usually include an isolation unit with specially trained staff to prevent illness spread.
Endocrine Diseases: Diseases involving hormone production and management, such as diabetes, Cushing's disease, Addison's disease, and thyroid diseases, can be difficult to manage since hormone levels are influenced by a variety of external circumstances.
Blood & Bone-Marrow Diseases: Your pet's bone marrow creates all of its blood cell types, and a marrow-related disease can lead to serious disorders like chronic anemia or leukemia that necessitate specialized care.
GI Conditions: Pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, and liver disease, for example, can trigger a slew of problems throughout the body that must be carefully managed.
Urinary Tract Disorders: If left untreated, several urinary diseases, such as bladder stones and proteinuria, might reoccur or cause persistent problems.
Cardiovascular and Respiratory Diseases: Cardiovascular conditions like heart failure and hypertension frequently necessitate close monitoring and frequent evaluation with modern techniques like cardiac ultrasonography to ensure proper function and avoid problems. Furthermore, untreated asthma, pneumonia, and other respiratory disorders can interfere with your pet's vital oxygen levels. Veterinary internal medicine specialists can provide continuous oxygen therapy or ventilator breathing control if necessary.
Kidney Disease: Kidney failure is a common condition that primarily affects elderly pets, although it can also impact puppies and kittens. Proper management can give a pet some extra months, and in some cases even years, they would not have had otherwise.