May 22, 2024

How to Spot the Signs: Everything You Need to Know About Veterinary Internal Medicine Diagnoses

Veterinary internal medicine diagnoses and treats various diseases affecting dogs, cats, and other pets. Like their human counterparts, our furry friends may suffer from multiple ailments, spanning gastrointestinal disorders to renal disease. As pet owners, it’s essential to be aware of the symptoms of these diseases because early detection and treatment can make a significant difference in your pet’s health and well-being. This article explores the most common veterinary internal medicine diagnoses and the importance of routine exams for maintaining your pet’s health.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Gastrointestinal disorders affect the stomach and intestines, causing pain and discomfort for your pet. Common causes include eating human food, food allergies, infections, and a lack of digestive enzymes. The most prevalent types of gastrointestinal disorders impacting pets are: 

  • Acute gastroenteritis 
  • Colitis 
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Pancreatitis 
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency 
  • Small intestinal malabsorption 

These disorders often present overlapping clinical signs, such as changes in appetite, stool quantity or quality, regurgitation or vomiting, weight loss, abdominal pain, lethargy, fever, and dehydration. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian to discuss the possibility of a gastrointestinal disorder.

Hepatic Diseases

Hepatic diseases affect the liver, an essential organ responsible for digestion, blood clotting, and removing toxins in our pets. Liver diseases can be challenging to detect, as their symptoms often resemble those of other illnesses. However, some common clinical signs include weight loss, appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, unstable walking, increased need to urinate, confusion, and yellowish eyes, tongue, and gums (jaundice).

Veterinary Internal Medicine for Hepatic Diseases

Diagnosing and treating hepatic diseases often involve various diagnostic procedures and treatment options, depending on the condition and your pet’s overall health. Causes of hepatic diseases may include infection or trauma to the area, medications, diabetes, fatty foods, and untreated heartworms. Timely detection and appropriate treatment are crucial in managing these conditions and prolonging your pet’s life.

Renal Disease

When one or more kidneys fail, your pet may experience renal disease. This condition affects over one in ten dogs and between 20 and 50% of older cats. Kidneys are responsible for filtering blood, processing protein wastes, excreting them into the urine, conserving and balancing body water, salts, and acids, and maintaining normal red blood cell levels. Common causes of renal disease include infection, kidney stones, blockages caused by kidney stones, genetics, and cancer. Unfortunately, dialysis and transplants are unavailable for dogs and cats, so treatment is limited to symptom management. Clinical signs include dehydration, lethargy, loss of appetite, increased water intake, urination, vomiting, weight loss, and bad breath with a chemical odor.

Veterinary Routine Exams for Renal Disease Detection

Cat exams in Hopkinsville and other locations often emphasize the importance of routine veterinary exams for the early detection of renal disease. Regular check-ups can help identify changes in your pet’s health and address potential kidney issues before they progress.

Urogenital Disease

Urogenital diseases encompass many conditions that affect the urinary and reproductive systems. Some common types include: 

  • Urinary tract infection 
  • Kidney infection 
  • Kidney and bladder stones
  • Diabetes 
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Prostate gland disease 
  • Incontinence 

These diseases can vary in severity and clinical signs, but timely diagnosis and treatment are essential for your pet’s comfort and well-being.

Vascular Disease

Vascular diseases in pets include problems with the arteries, veins, and vessels that carry lymph nodes and disorders affecting blood flow. Acquired vascular diseases, such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (caused by tick bites), are the most common internal medicine veterinarians treat. Clinical signs of this disease can include loss of appetite, muscle or joint pain, fever, coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea, swelling of the face or legs, and depression. Treatment usually involves two to three weeks of antibiotics.

Pulmonary Disease

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), also referred to as Chronic Bronchitis, affects dogs and cats similarly to how it affects humans. While COPD progresses slowly and is irreversible, managing the condition and alleviating your pet’s discomfort is crucial. Secondhand smoke, air pollutants, allergens, dental disease, recurrent respiratory system infections, and obesity contribute to COPD development in pets. Treatment typically includes prescriptions for bronchodilators, cough suppressants, antibiotics, and corticosteroids, all aimed at reducing inflammation and easing coughing.

Puppies and Kittens Care for Preventing Pulmonary Disease

Proper puppy vet care and kitten care are crucial to give your pet a healthy start in life. Addressing the risk factors mentioned earlier and ensuring a clean, healthy environment for your young pet can reduce their risk of developing COPD later in life.

Preventive Care and Early Detection

Routine veterinary exams are vital for maintaining your pet’s health and preventing diseases. Early detection and intervention can significantly impact the successful outcome of many conditions, leading to your pet’s healthier and happier life. Vaccinations, regular check-ups, and appropriate preventive care contribute to your pet’s well-being.


Veterinary internal medicine is essential in maintaining your pet’s health and well-being. Pet owners must be vigilant about unusual signs or symptoms and consult with their veterinarian. By understanding the basics of common internal medicine diagnoses, scheduling routine exams, and providing proper care for puppies and kittens, you can help ensure your pet lives a happy, healthy life. Early detection and treatment often make a significant difference, so feel free to seek veterinary care if anything seems to be corrected. After all, our pets depend on us to keep them safe, comfortable, and healthy throughout their lives.