The field of internal medicine focuses on the management of the systems within the body. It encompasses several different specialties including respiratory, cardiology, gastroenterology, endocrinology, nephrology, hepatology, and infectious disease.
Various diagnostics can be required to diagnose internal diseases. Bit and Spur Animal Hospital has the ability to run bloodwork in the clinic to evaluate the function of multiple organs in the body, as well as sending samples to an outside lab to run more extensive tests. Our x-ray and ultrasound machines also play an essential role in our workups.
The respiratory system is what allows us and our pets to be able to breathe. It includes the nose, nasopharynx, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs. Symptoms affecting this system can range from symptoms similar to a cold to severe respiratory distress, which can be life-threatening. We rely on our ability to listen to the lungs with a stethoscope during the physical exam to determine the severity of respiratory disease. We will often recommend radiographs to be able to see the structures of the respiratory system.
Some of the more common diseases we see that affect the respiratory system include:
– Upper respiratory infection
– Tracheal collapse
– Laryngeal paralysis
– Bordatella (Kennel Cough)
– Feline asthma
Cardiology –coming soon.
The purpose of the gastrointestinal system is to digest food, extract nutrients, and excrete the waste. It includes the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, liver, and pancreas. The most common symptoms affecting the GI system include vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia. We will typically start our workup of a GI problem by checking fecal sample for parasites, as they commonly affect our patients. In forming a diagnosis we rely on the history, physical examination, bloodwork, and radiographs. Occasionally, we may need to take samples in the form of an aspirate or a biopsy to help determine the cause of the disease. Sometimes this can be done with the use of the ultrasound, but often it will require surgery.
Some of the more common diseases we see that affect the gastrointestinal system include:
– Inflammatory bowel disease
– Foreign bodies
– Liver failure
– Gastric dilatation and volvulus
– Dietary indiscretion
The endocrine system is responsible for the production and secretion of the hormones that control many of the functions throughout the body. Occasionally, a hormone will be either secreted too much or too little. The abnormal level will cause certain clinical signs that alert the owner or veterinarian to the disease. Bloodwork is required to diagnose and assess the severity of the disease so that your veterinarian can prescribe the appropriate medication to control your pet’s disease and clinical signs
Some of the more common diseases we see that affect the endocrine system include:
– diabetes mellitus
– Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism)
– Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism)
The kidneys are responsible for filtering the blood and producing urine, as well as playing a role in maintaining an appropriate blood pressure. The urine is then sent to the bladder where it is stored until the pet urination. Sometimes owners let us know that their pet’s urinary habits have changed. In order to diagnose the cause we will collect a urine sample and run a urinalysis that allows us to find out the pH, specific gravity, and anything abnormal that may be being excreted with the urine. We will also look at the urine under the microscope to look for bacteria, cells, and crystals. Often our workup also includes bloodwork to check the function of the kidneys, as well as radiographs and ultrasound. Renal disease becomes more common as pets get older, especially cats, so routine bloodwork is important to identify disease early, before clinical signs appear.
Some of the more common diseases we see that affect the urinary tract include:
-bladder & kidney stones
-urinary tract infection
-feline lower urinary tract disease
The liver has a variety of functions including filtering toxins from the blood, metabolism of food compounds like protein, fats, & carbohydrates, break down of many medications, as well as production of factors important to coagulation. The gallbladder is also a part of this system and stores bile, which aids with digestion. Whenever damage occurs to the liver through disease or toxins, it’s ability to perform these functions is hindered. Some of the clinical signs with liver disease are vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice (yellowing of the eyes, gums, and/or skin), and ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen). One of the first tests we run when liver disease is suspected is bloodwork to check the level of the enzymes produced by the liver, as well as other blood tests to evaluate the function of the liver. Radiographs and ultrasound are also very important to the workup of liver disease.
Some of the more common diseases we see that affect the hepatic system include:
Infectious diseases are diseases that a pet contracts by being exposed to the disease in its environment or another animal. Vaccines are available for many infectious diseases and are one of the most important thing a pet owner can do to protect their pet. There are a wide variety of clinical signs that may indicate testing for an infectious disease, therefore the history and physical exam are very important to diagnosis.
Some of the more common infectious diseases we see include: