Many pet owners may not even be aware that veterinary medicine has specialists. But they do! As with human medicine, there are numerous specialties for pets, one of which is internal medicine. A veterinarian who has gone through the process to become board-certified in internal medicine is called an internist. Here, our Smyrna vets explain.
What is an Internal Medicine Specialist?
Most primary care veterinarians complete their undergraduate studies and follow that up with four years of veterinary school. Board-certified internists go through the same process, but then complete a three-year internal medicine residency, an internship and a rigorous series of board-administered tests.
The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine requires a minimum of four years of further training before they can be designated as a specialist.
What Does an Internal Medicine Specialist Do?
Internists are experts in diagnosing and treating disorders affecting the internal systems of animals, including their livers, gastrointestinal tracts, kidneys and lungs. They have taken the time and undergone the training to understand the complicated relationships between all of your pet's organs and systems as well as how to address the underlying causes of diseases.
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 have been educated to assess every part of a pet's history and any clinical findings to recommend the best diagnosis and therapies based on the overall clinical picture of your companion.
What Health Conditions Can an Internist Help Treat?
Some pets may develop uncommon or difficult-to-manage conditions or diseases. They may also encounter complications that necessitate more extensive treatments, therapies and monitoring.
Internal medical professionals can advise you on the best treatment for your pet. They will be able to collaborate with other professionals like veterinary neurologists and oncologists to create the best strategies 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 be treated aggressively. As a result, hospitals usually include an isolation unit with specially trained staff to prevent illness spread.
Endocrine Diseases: Diseases that involve hormone production and management like diabetes, Addison's disease, thyroid diseases or Cushing's disease can all be difficult to manage since hormone levels are influences by a variety of circumstances.
Blood & Bone-Marrow Diseases: Your pet's bone marrow creates all of their 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 hypertension and heart failure may require close monitoring and frequent evaluation with modern techniques like cardiac ultrasonography to make sure further problems don't develop. If conditions like asthma, pneumonia, and other respiratory disorders are not appropriately addressed, they can impact your pet's oxygen levels. If necessary, veterinary internal medicine specialists can provide continuous oxygen therapy or ventilator breathing control.
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.