Frequently Asked Questions
On the day of your pet’s appointment you should arrive at Care Center prior to your appointment time with any referral information (radiographs, medical records, lab work, etc.) sent with you by your family veterinarian. You can fill out the registration form online if you would like to save time. Once paperwork is complete, the specialist’s staff will obtain vital signs on your pet and relay them to the internist. The internist will then speak with you regarding your pet’s medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination. If any diagnostic procedures are suggested they will discuss the recommendations and then present to you an estimated cost for the procedures. This discussion will then recur at every point a new diagnostic test is finished, and new results are in.
Sometimes our Internal Medicine patients are in the hospital for extended periods of time. Even those here for only a day or two are of course missed by their owners. Yes, you can absolutely visit your pet. We feel strongly that visitation is of enormous benefit to both you and your best friend. We encourage families to visit if they feel comfortable doing so. We have no strict visitation hours, but we do request that owners not visit from 8am-9am or 4pm-5pm, when we are changing personnel. We also ask that owners limit themselves to 30 minute visits in an exam room, and 15 minutes in the ICU. We strongly suggest waiting to visit patients receiving anesthesia until the day after the anesthetic was given, as they are often too groggy to appreciate their family’s presence, or may even become agitated.
In all cases where you wish to visit, we recommend calling before you come, to make sure we will not have to keep you waiting. We make every effort to provide you and your pet with an exam room in which to spend some quality time. During very busy times, there may not be such a room available.
The Internist or a member of their team will call you when new diagnostic information is obtained (for example, after an ultrasound is completed), or if a new treatment or diagnostic approach is considered necessary. This may be at any point during the day. For stable patients, it is likely that the doctor will be calling in the evening, after all procedures and diagnostics have been run, in order to give the most complete picture of your pet’s health status. The Internal Medicine staff keeps very long hours, often many hours after the last appointment time of 5pm. So we urge families to not become anxious if they haven’t received a call back before 5pm; you will receive a call. Also keep in mind that Care Center is a 24-hour facility, and so your pet is ALWAYS being monitored and cared for by trained veterinarians and nurses.
You can find the forms you need here on our forms page.
Veterinary internal medicine specialists see a variety of patients with conditions affecting multiple parts of the body. We often are sorting out very complicated diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract, urinary system, hormone systems, blood, lungs, liver, pancreas, and more. We also diagnose many types of infectious diseases and immune system disorders. It's one of the most varied specialties. Sometimes when your family veterinarian knows that your pet is sick, but isn't sure exactly who they should see, they send them to an internist. Even if the internist may not end up being the doctor who treats your pet, they can often begin the process of diagnosing the patient, and guide them to the appropriate specialist. However, with the widely ranging diseases treated by an internist, in many cases the internist does end up being just the right doctor and can coordinate care among multiple specialists if necessary.
Veterinary internal medicine is not the same as human internal medicine. In the human counterpart, an internist is essentially a primary care physician. In that situation, if you become ill, they will refer you to a sub-specialist. In veterinary medicine, the internist receives patients on referral by a primary care veterinarian, and their specialty expertise encompasses most of the human sub-specialties.
Some of the more common tests that an internist performs:
- Ultrasound - allows us to look inside the body to assess the size, shape, and appearance of many of the internal organs, helpful for a variety of conditions. If an issue is found, sometimes it can be sampled in a very non-invasive way to allow for a diagnosis
- Ultrasound guided biopsies – if while viewing an ultrasound something is found, a biopsy can be performed using this imaging technique to access the affected area
- Endoscopy - this is a “scope”- a long tube with a camera is placed into the stomach/intestines and/or colon to allow us to look for visible problems and to take biopsies to make a diagnosis in a variety of gastrointestinal (GI) disorders
- Bronchosopy - this is using a scope in the respiratory tract
- Rhinoscopy - this is a scope of the nose - we don't often do this directly as the nasal passage is so small, often imaging with a CT scan is better. However we still sometimes perform this, or a variation of it where we examine where “post-nasal drip” occurs
- Cystoscopy - this is a scope of a female dog's lower urogenital system (bladder, urethra, vagina)
- CT scan - this can be taken of a variety of areas on the body, e.g. on the nose or the chest to get a very detailed 3-dimensional image of the area - it helps to identify and locate problems in great detail
- Laboratory tests - your family veterinarian likely would perform basic laboratory work prior to referral to Care, but there are hundreds of possible follow up tests that may be performed on blood, urine, or other bodily samples
- Blood glucose curves - this is an all day test to check how well we are able to control a particular patient's diabetes and blood sugars
Bone marrow aspiration/biopsy - if the bone marrow is sick this is a test to determine the underlying cause