Understanding Common Internal Medicine Conditions in Pets

As pet owners, we all want the best for our furry companions, including keeping them healthy. A critical aspect of pet healthcare is veterinary internal medicine, which focuses on diagnosing and treating conditions affecting our pets internally. In this article, we’ll explore common internal medicine conditions in pets, discuss the importance of veterinary geriatrics, and explain the diagnostic laboratory’s crucial role.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Gastrointestinal disorders affect the stomach and intestines, causing pain and other problems such as dehydration, acid-base and electrolyte imbalances, and malnutrition. Common examples include:

  • Acute Gastroenteritis
  • Colitis
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Pancreatitis
  • Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
  • Small Intestinal Malabsorption

Signs to watch for include changes in appetite, stool quantity or quality, regurgitation or vomiting, weight loss, abdominal pain, lethargy, and fever.

Hepatic Diseases

The liver plays a vital role in digestion, blood clotting, and removing toxins. Unfortunately, diseases of the liver in our pets can often go unnoticed. Common hepatic disorders include:

  • Hepatitis
  • Liver Cirrhosis
  • Portosystemic Shunts
  • Liver Tumors

Symptoms of liver problems in pets include weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, unstable walking, increased need to urinate, confusion, and jaundice.

Renal Disease

Also known as kidney disease, renal disease occurs when one or more kidneys fail. Kidney disease is common in pets, affecting more than one in ten dogs and between 20 and 50% of older cats. Common causes of renal disease include infections, kidney stones, genetic predisposition, and cancer. Some symptoms to look out for are dehydration, lethargy, loss of appetite, drinking more water, increased urination, vomiting, weight loss, and bad breath with a chemical odor.

Urogenital Disease

Urinary diseases in pets vary in severity and can include:

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI)
  • Kidney Infections
  • Kidney Stones / Bladder Stones
  • Diabetes-Linked Urinary Disorders
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Prostate Gland Disease
  • Incontinence

Symptoms can range from increased thirst, changes in urination frequency, straining to urinate, blood in the urine, lethargy, weight loss, and abdominal pain.

Vascular Disease

Vascular diseases in pets can affect the arteries, veins, and vessels that transport blood and lymph nodes. One common type of acquired vascular disease in pets is Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, caused by tick bites and treatable with antibiotics. Symptoms to watch out for include loss of appetite, muscle or joint pain, fever, coughing, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling of the face or legs, and depression.

Pulmonary Disease

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Chronic Bronchitis can affect pets similarly to humans, leading to irreversible and progressive lung damage. Causes can include secondhand smoke, air pollutants, allergens, dental disease, recurrent respiratory infections, and obesity. Treatments often focus on making the patient more comfortable as the disease progresses, using bronchodilators, cough suppressants, antibiotics, and corticosteroids as needed. Look for symptoms such as persistent coughing, difficulty breathing, and exercise intolerance.

Veterinary Geriatrics

As our pets age, they can develop a variety of age-related ailments, requiring special attention to their health and well-being. Veterinary geriatrics focuses on caring for and managing senior pets, addressing age-related issues such as arthritis, heart disease, cognitive decline, and dental health. An experienced veterinary geriatrician can help ensure your beloved pets live their golden years in comfort and health.

Diagnostic Laboratory

A diagnostic laboratory plays a crucial role in detecting and diagnosing diseases in our pets. Modern lab equipment and highly trained specialists can analyze samples such as blood, urine, and tissue to accurately diagnose a wide range of conditions. Pet owners may see more info about their lab results online or have their veterinarian explain the findings and recommend the best course of treatment.


Understanding the common internal medicine conditions afflicting pets allows us to provide the best care for our furry family. By recognizing the signs and symptoms of these diseases, we can seek prompt veterinary attention, increasing the chance of successful treatment and a better quality of life for our pets. Additionally, focusing on veterinary geriatrics and utilizing advanced diagnostic lab techniques is crucial in effectively managing and treating these ailments. Keeping ourselves informed and vigilant will ultimately contribute to our pets’ happiness and health.

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