Internal Medicine FAQ


generalWhat is a board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist?

A board-certified veterinary internal medicine specialist, commonly called an internist, is a veterinarian who focuses on diagnosing and treating diseases of the internal systems. In addition to completing undergraduate training and four years of veterinary school, a board-certified veterinary internist is similar to his/her human-medicine counterpart in that he/she has completed an internship and residency in the specialized field of internal medicine (an additional 3-5 years training). In addition to this extensive training, a board-certified veterinary internist must pass two rigorous examinations to achieve board certification from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Why should I seek the care of a board-certified internist?

Your veterinarian may refer you to an internist if a diagnosis is proving elusive or therapy is not proving effective; due to his or her expertise in internal medicine, the internist may be able to obtain a diagnosis or adjust treatment plans to get your animal back to health.

In some cases, when the diagnosis is known, an internist may confirm the diagnosis and treatment, providing peace of mind.

For what conditions might my family veterinarian refer my pet to an internist?

  • Anemia or other bleeding disorders
  • Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
  • Complicated pancreatic disease
  • Coughing & other breathing problems
  • Endocrine disease (adrenal tumors, complicated diabetes, thyroid disorders)
  • Infectious disease
  • Kidney or bladder disease
  • Liver inflammation
  • Unexplained weight loss

What is endoscopy?

Endoscopy means looking inside and typically refers to looking inside the body for medical reasons using an endoscope, an instrument that allows the examinination of the interior of a hollow organ or cavity of the body. Unlike most other medical imaging devices, endoscopes are inserted directly into the organ. The veterinarian can use an endoscope to visualize the inside of the nose, the gastrointestinal tract (esophagus, stomach, and intestines), the trachea and bronchus (breathing tubes), and the urethra and bladder.

An endoscope sometimes can be used to retrieve foreign objects from the stomach, thereby avoiding an invasive surgery.

What should I expect at my pet’s internal medicine appointment?

Please see “Internal Medicine appointment FAQ.”