What is a Veterinary Specialist? How are they different from a family veterinarian?

In addition to completing undergraduate training and four years of veterinary school, Board-Certified Veterinary Specialists are similar to their human medical counterparts in that they have completed an internship and residency in their specialized field (an additional three to five years of training). In addition to this extensive training, a Board-Certified Veterinary Specialist must pass rigorous examinations to achieve Board certification from the ACVIM. Specialists bring a greater understanding in the area of internal medicine, cardiology, oncology, or neurology, and have a greater knowledge of the unusual, the uncommon, or rare in both large and small animals.

Why do I need a referral?

The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine encourages animal owners to obtain a referral from their family veterinarian whenever possible. This ensures the proper transfer of medical information that is beneficial to the animal and the Veterinary Specialist and will help your companion receive the best care possible.

When should I seek a referral?

Animal owners should request a referral when:

  • The animal’s disease is uncommon, complicated, or undiagnosed after standard testing.
  • Owners would like an informed, neutral second opinion on their animal’s condition.
  • The outcomes of the current treatments are not going well or as expected.
  • The animal requires a sophisticated procedure that is offered by a specialty hospital.
  • The animal can benefit from 24-hour monitoring provided by a referral hospital.

What is Veterinary Internal Medicine?

Veterinary Internal Medicine is a veterinary specialty that includes diseases of the gastrointestinal, renal, endocrine, respiratory, urogenital, immune, and lymphatic systems. Some of the organs in these systems are the oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (colon), liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, urethra, nasal cavity, trachea, bronchi, lungs, uterus, ovaries, prostate, vulva, prepuce, thyroid gland, adrenal gland, parathyroid gland, pituitary gland, lymph nodes, and lymphatic vessels.

Patients may be referred to us for these and other problems:

  • Multiple disease conditions that are very difficult to manage
  • Disorders requiring specialized diagnostics such as ultrasound or endoscopy and treatments such as chemotherapy or radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism
  • Complicated endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism, or Cushing’s disease
  • Unresolved breathing problems
  • Bleeding disorders or anemia
  • Infectious diseases
  • Liver disease
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Chronic vomiting or diarrhea
  • Kidney and bladder diseases
  • Nutritional support with feeding tube placement or partial parenteral nutrition

How long does my pet have to stay in the hospital when they have a procedure done?

On procedure day we have the patient dropped off between 8 am and 10 am and procedures are planned to be done mid-day. After the procedure is done, the patient is then in recovery where their vital signs are monitored carefully while they awaken fully. The doctor will then examine the patient again and make sure they are awake and ready to come home to you.

May I visit my pet if he is hospitalized at our Internal Medicine Division?

By all means, we encourage you to visit your pet! Our visiting hours are limited to 7 pm to 9 pm so that we may continue supportive care and treatments without interruption during our clinical day.