Veterinary Internist vs. General Veterinarian: Which One Does Your Pet Need?

Veterinary Internist vs. General Veterinarian: Which One Does Your Pet Need?

July 5, 2023 Off By timetobuybc

Veterinary Internist vs. General Veterinarian: Which One Does Your Pet Need?

When it comes to our pets, we want the best possible care for them, especially when they fall ill or get injured. So how about a general veterinarian or a veterinary internist is the right choice for our furry companions? In this article, we’ll explore the differences between these two types of medical professionals, the various conditions they handle, and when to seek specialized care for your pet.

General Veterinarian: The First Line of Defense

Role of a primary care veterinarian

General veterinarians, also known as primary care veterinarians, are typically the first medical professionals you’ll turn to for your pet’s healthcare needs. They provide routine check-ups, vaccinations, and basic diagnostics to ensure your pet is healthy. General veterinarians can also handle minor injuries, infections, and skin issues your pet may experience.

When to refer to a veterinary internist

Sometimes, your pet may develop a more complex or chronic condition that doesn’t respond well to standard treatments. In these cases, your general veterinarian should seek the advice of a veterinary internist. These specialists have expertise in diagnosing and treating complicated medical issues and access to advanced diagnostic tools and treatments.

Veterinary Internist: The Specialist for Complex Cases

Role of a veterinary internist

Veterinary internists are experts in diagnosing and managing complex medical problems, often requiring a more in-depth evaluation of your pet’s history and clinical findings. They collaborate with other specialists in various fields to develop the best possible treatment plan for your pet, considering all aspects of their health.

Advanced diagnostic tests and techniques

Veterinary internists can access specialized diagnostic equipment and tests, such as diagnostic ultrasound, echocardiograms, endoscopic evaluation, and advanced imaging (MRI, CT). These advanced tools allow a more accurate diagnosis of your pet’s condition, resulting in more effective treatment.

Complex disease management

Veterinary internists treat complex internal veterinary medicine conditions, such as endocrine diseases, gastrointestinal (GI) conditions, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, kidney diseases, urinary system disorders, blood and bone marrow-related diseases, and infectious diseases. They often work closely with other specialists to provide comprehensive care for your pet.

How to Know Which Veterinarian Your Pet Needs

Factors to consider when deciding between a general veterinarian and a veterinary internist include:

  • The severity and complexity of your pet’s condition
  • Responsiveness to general treatments
  • The need for advanced diagnostics and specialized care

Communication between veterinarians is key in providing the best care possible, so don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion or consult a specialist if your pet’s condition requires it.

Veterinary Hospital

In cases where your pet may require hospitalization or emergency care, a veterinary hospital is the best resource. Veterinary hospitals provide advanced diagnostic tools, specialized treatment options, and around-the-clock supervision to ensure your pet receives optimal treatment during their stay. Such facilities typically have a team of veterinarians, including general practitioners and specialists, working together to manage complicated cases. You can locate a veterinary hospital near you by searching on this page.

Veterinary Internal Medicine

A veterinary internist is your go-to professional for pets dealing with complex internal veterinary medicine conditions. These veterinarians have extensive knowledge and expertise in treating complex and challenging cases, providing a higher level of care than what a general practitioner may be able to offer. Communication and collaboration with your primary care veterinarian will ensure your pet receives the best possible care.

Emergency Vet

Your pet may require immediate emergency care when a sudden accident or illness occurs. An emergency vet is specifically trained to handle urgent and critical situations, providing prompt medical attention and stabilizing your pet’s condition. These urgent care centers often have extended hours and are available during weekends and holidays to ensure your pet can receive proper care when needed.

Importance of Continuity of Care

A collaborative approach between your general veterinarian and veterinary internist is essential, ensuring comprehensive care for your pet. Regular updates and coordinated treatment plans between specialists will provide your pet with the best care. Involvement from you, the pet owner, is also crucial. Be vigilant in recognizing warning signs of health issues and be committed to following through with appointments and treatment plans. Communicate openly with your general veterinarian and veterinary internist to ensure everyone is well-informed about your pet’s condition.


Understanding the difference between general veterinarians and veterinary internists is essential to providing the best care for your pet. As a pet owner, it’s crucial to recognize when your furry friend may require specialized care and not hesitate to seek expert help. By collaborating with your primary care veterinarian and any necessary specialists, you can ensure that your pet receives comprehensive and effective treatment tailored to their needs. Remember to remain proactive and involved in your pet’s healthcare journey, asking questions and keeping an open line of communication with all medical professionals involved in their care. Ultimately, the goal is to ensure your pet enjoys a happy, healthy life by your side.