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Oklahoma State University
Center for Veterinary Health Sciences

Healthy Animals - Healthy People

Small Animal Internal Medicine

ann hargis and dr. sypniewski

What is internal medicine?

Internal medicine specialists manage a wide array of disorders including infectious diseases and disorders that affect most organs including lungs, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys/bladder, liver, bone marrow as well as endocrine disorders like diabetes and thyroid diseases.  Internists are frequently called upon to evaluate patients where a diagnosis cannot be obtained. 

What can the internal medicine service offer?

Internists offer a wide array of minimally invasive or non-invasive testing, which includes endoscopy.  Endoscopy is passing a camera into a body cavity.  This could include the GI tract, urinary bladder, nose, etc.  A variety of things can be accomplished with endoscopy including removing foreign material from the esophagus and stomach to collecting biopsy samples for patients that have disease in these locations. 

Frequently, advanced imaging is needed to help examine a body cavity or organ.  Some examples would include ultrasound, CT (computed tomography) and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) among others. 

Examples of diseases that are frequently treated by internists:

  • Endocrine diseases (diabetes, thyroid disease, pituitary disease, adrenal disease, etc.)
  • Gastrointestinal disease (chronic vomiting, chronic diarrhea, chronic parasite infections, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.)
  • Immune-mediated diseases (hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, lupus, polyarthritis, etc.)
  • Lower urinary tract disease (chronic or recurring bladder infections, prostate disease, incontinence, bladder stones, etc.)
  • Infectious disease (including bacterial, fungal and viral diseases as well as parasites like Giardia and intestinal worms)
  • Liver disease (portosystemic shunts (liver shunt), hepatitis, yellowing of the skin/eyes (jaundice), gallbladder disease, etc.)
  • Renal (Kidney) diseases (acute and chronic kidney disease, kidney infections, protein-losing kidney diseases, etc.)
  • Respiratory diseases (chronic cough, persistent or refractory pneumonia, asthma, etc.)
  • Among many others

Common reasons why your pet may need an internist:

  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Chronic cough
  • Chronic vomiting and/or diarrhea
  • Collapse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Urinary incontinence or the inability to urinate/pain when urinating
  • Persistent abnormalities with routine blood work
  • Recurrent infections or infections that are not responding to treatment
  • Seizures
  • Sneezing
  • Swelling or pain of the joints
  • Weight loss