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If your pet struggles with chronic, complicated, or complex diseases or conditions, your primary care veterinarian may refer you to a veterinary internist – a specialist in internal medicine, for further evaluation or ongoing care.

What Is an Internist?

Primary care veterinarians have training in a wide range of health areas, so they can help your pet with an array of problems: eye, skin, ear, orthopedic, dental, even some behavioral issues. Internists, on the other hand, are highly trained in internal medicine, the complex interaction of all of your pet’s organs and bodily systems, and how to treat the underlying causes of disease. They specialize in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of cats’ and dogs’ internal systems, such as liver, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, and lung/airway.

Most primary care veterinarians earn an undergraduate degree and then complete four years of veterinary school. Board-certified internists do the same, but also go on to complete an internship, three-year internal medicine residency, and then pass rigorous board examinations in their specialized field. That’s a minimum of four years of additional training before they earn the designation of a specialist by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM), the certifying organization in the United States. Once all of the requirements for board certification are met, the ACVIM awards the veterinarian with “Diplomate” status.

You will know someone is board certified in veterinary internal medicine if you see credentials listed after their names, like our two internists:

  • Bryan Harnett, DVM, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (or DACVIM for short)
  • Elisabeth Zenger, DVM, Ph.D., DACVIM (SAIM), which stands for small animal internal medicine

Why Would My Pet Need One?

Veterinary internists are known as the sleuths of the industry. Often, pets are referred to them because their illnesses are complex or downright confounding to their primary care veterinarians. Internists are trained to solve the mystery behind what’s causing a pet to be unwell.

To obtain an accurate diagnosis, specialized diagnostic testing is often required. At BEVS, we can perform most of these tests in-house to get rapid answers. Ultrasound, CT scan, blood chemistries, biopsies, endoscopy, and so on, using sophisticated equipment, will give the clearest picture of what is happening in your pet, so that the best course of treatment can be developed.

Internists, like all specialists, make sure that your primary veterinarian is informed about what they find. This is important because we want to ensure a smooth transition when your pet returns to their primary care veterinarian for ongoing and routine medical care.

BEVS Internal Medicine Department

Common conditions that our Internal Medicine team treats include diabetes, blood disorders, infections, cancer, digestive tract issues, hormone/endocrine or immune disorders, diseases of the kidney, liver, gallbladder, lungs, and urinary or reproductive tracts.

If you have questions about our Internal Medicine department, please give us a call at 802-863-2387.

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