What Are the Key Roles of a Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist?

As a pet owner, understanding the various specializations in animal healthcare is crucial. Specialists in veterinary medicine cater to specific aspects of pet health, one being veterinary internal medicine. These specialists, also known as veterinary internists, come into play when complex internal diseases affect your pet. 

This article dives into a veterinary internist’s roles, training, and when their specialized skills become necessary for your pet.

Who Is a Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist?

When most pet owners think of veterinary care, they think of the primary care veterinarian. This professional is in charge of regular pet check-ups and illness treatment. However, for certain more complex conditions, an internist might be necessary.

1. Board-Certified Internist

A specialist in veterinary internal medicine, or simply a veterinary internist, undergoes the same initial stages of study as a primary care veterinarian. However, after the first four years of veterinary school, the internist goes further, completing an internship, followed by a three-year internal medicine residency. Finally, they pass through board examinations in their specific field. This ensures they can handle complex conditions affecting a pet’s internal organs.

2. Roles of a Veterinary Internist

Many pet owners, even in residential places, may wonder what a veterinary internist does. Professionals like the internal medicine veterinarian in Moreno Valley, CA, specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases affecting pets’ internal organs. They are specifically trained to understand the complex interactions of different organs and bodily systems, enabling them to treat underlying causes of chronic illnesses effectively.

3. Internist Versus Primary Care Veterinarian

While a primary care veterinarian is essential in maintaining your pet’s health, an internal medicine specialist or internist is highly skilled in handling complex diseases that need specialized attention. This more advanced focus makes an internist essential to a comprehensive pet care team.


DACVIM (SAIM), Standing for Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (Small Animal Internal Medicine), shows an area of specialized focus in small animals. This certification means the internist is well-equipped to diagnose and treat complex medical issues related to dogs and cats.

Specialized Diagnostic Testing

In the realm of a veterinary internist are various diagnostic and therapeutic procedures. They are typically complex and require special training and knowledge.

1. In-House Animal Testing

The application of diagnostic tests such as ultrasounds, CT scans, blood tests, and in-house biopsies aids in accurate diagnosis. By nature, these investigative techniques demand special tools and skills. A veterinary laboratory hosting these tests provides unprecedented utility.

You can go to this link to learn about other procedures conducted in a veterinary laboratory.

2. Pet’s Blood Chemistries

Blood chemistries are crucial to diagnosing a pet’s health, especially in complex internal diseases. They can give insights about organ function and other bodily conditions invisible to the naked eye.

3. Veterinary Endoscopy

Endoscopy is another tool often employed by the internist. This technique visualizes the pet’s internal organs, granting veritable insights that facilitate accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Pet’s Internal System Diseases

One of the main reasons for acquiring the service of a veterinary internist is their unparalleled capacity to diagnose and treat diseases within a pet’s internal system. Owing to their specialized training and experience. They can handle extensive medical issues, often complex and multifaceted. 

These experts diagnose and manage conditions that an ordinary primary care veterinarian may find challenging due to their intricate nature.

  • Liver Disorders: The liver is a vital organ in your pet’s body, participating in various functions, including detoxification and digestion. Conditions like liver shunts, hepatic encephalopathy, or even liver failure are possible issues a veterinary internist can diagnose and treat efficiently.
  • Kidney Diseases: Kidney diseases in pets can be challenging to handle due to their potential to progress and cause irreversible effects rapidly. veterinary internists often manage chronic kidney disease and acute kidney injury.
  • Gastrointestinal Tract Conditions: GI tract issues are quite common in pets. From inflammatory bowel disease to gastric dilation-volvulus (bloating), veterinary internists have the specialized skills to handle these often complicated cases.
  • Lung and Airway Diseases: Respiratory issues like asthma, bronchitis, and other lung diseases can significantly affect your pet’s quality of life. In these instances, an internist could prove invaluable.
  • Chronic Conditions: Conditions like diabetes, blood disorders, and cancer require long-term management that an internist can provide. These diseases often involve multiple organ systems, necessitating the comprehensive expertise of a veterinary internist.
  • Infections: Viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other parasites can invade your pet’s body and cause many problems. Veterinary internal medicine specialists have vast knowledge in treating these internal infections.

When to See an Internist

While a primary care veterinarian can handle general health issues, a range of specialized conditions necessitate a veterinary internist’s attention. Your pet’s primary care veterinarian will know when a referral is appropriate.

1. Dealing with Persistent Diseases

Persistent or chronic diseases in pets can be difficult and frustrating to manage. Because these conditions can be hard to diagnose and treat, the expertise of a paraclinical specialist like an internist is often needed. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and chronic respiratory diseases all fall within an internist’s capabilities.

2. Handling Endocrine Disorders

Endocrine disorders such as hypothyroidism or hyperadrenocorticism can significantly impact a pet’s quality of life. However, early diagnosis and effective management by a veterinary internist can greatly help to manage these conditions.

3. Dealing With Organ-Specific Diseases

Diseases specific to certain organs, such as liver or kidney diseases, are also within the scope of a veterinary internist’s expertise. Through specialized diagnostic tools, they can pinpoint the root cause of the issue and formulate a targeted treatment plan.

4. Respiratory Tract Conditions

Pets can also suffer from respiratory tract problems and lung diseases. These issues are complex and often require the expertise of a veterinary internist.

5. Urinary and Reproductive Tract Diseases

Urinary and reproductive tract diseases in pets are another area where a veterinary internist’s expertise comes into play. Internists are highly skilled in diagnosing and treating disorders like bladder stones, urinary tract infections, and reproductive problems. These may involve the use of innovative treatments like cold laser therapy. This non-invasive treatment can complement other therapies to enhance recovery and manage the symptoms.

You can visit https://www.sunnymeadvet.com/site/veterinary-services-moreno-valley/cold-laser-therapy for more information about cold laser therapy for pets.


Veterinary internists are a crucial asset in the world of pet healthcare. Their specialized training and unique skills make them the right option for complex internal diseases in pets. Using advanced diagnostic techniques, they can uncover hidden ailments and provide in-depth care for your furry friends.


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