Internal Medicine: Get help with the difficult questions



A small animal medicine specialist, also known as a small animal specialist physician or internist, is a veterinarian with advanced, post-graduate training in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions which are difficult to diagnose, are multifaceted in nature, or involve multiple organ systems of dogs and cats. Veterinarians aspiring to become specialist physicians undergo extensive training in diseases affecting the digestive tract, kidneys, nervous system, heart, lungs, immune system, infectious disease, and cancer therapy. They then undergo rigorous testing to obtain additional qualifications and recognition as a specialist veterinarian with the South African Veterinary Council.

Veterinary medicine, like human medicine, is a rapidly developing field with life-changing research being published daily. To be able to offer the best treatment options for your pet, we may suggest remote input from various international supporting specialities such as veterinary nutritionists, oncologists, cardiologists and radiologists not readily available in South Africa.

When do I need to see an internal medicine specialist?

We accept referrals from all over the Western Cape. Your family veterinarian will recommend a referral of your pet for additional scans, diagnostic tests, procedures or treatments. We always request a full medical history from the veterinarians that your pet has visited in the past to allow us to collect as much information as possible from your pet’s medical history. This allows us to identify useful trends in your pet’s health and avoid unnecessary retesting costing you time and money. We also request that you complete a pet health questionnaire, together with everyone that looks after your pet, to obtain a complete history before the initial consultation. Appointments are 30 minutes in duration on weekdays from 9 am to 12 am.


What can I expect when my pet is referred to an internal medicine specialist?

The starting point for a successful visit is a detailed discussion of your pet’s problem during a consultation. Following a morning consultation of 30 minutes, we usually request that your pet visit us for the day to allow us to perform the recommended tests, scans and treatments discussed with you. To ensure accurate results, we request that pets be fasted for 12 hours prior to the allocated appointment time. Pets are usually discharged the same afternoon unless testing or treatment requires an overnight visit or hospitalisation for in-hospital care. This will be discussed with you during the consultation and we endeavour to make you part of the decision process with every step. Our specialists make use of carefully selected and trusted reference laboratories and support services with most results available within 5-7 days after test submission. However, our well-equipped on-site laboratory is available for immediate testing in emergency situations.


Which common conditions do internal medicine specialists treat?

  • Nervous system diseases such as seizures/epilepsy, meningitis of unknown origin, acute polyradiculoneuritis;
  • Digestive system diseases such as chronic diarrhoea or vomiting, oesophageal foreign bodies,  inflammatory bowel disease, colitis and pancreatitis;
  • Urogenital diseases such as chronic kidney disease, acute kidney injury, bladder infections, kidney and bladder stones;
  • Liver and gallbladder diseases such as acute/chronic hepatitis, biliary tract obstruction, hepatic lipidosis, gallbladder mucocoele;
  • Immune-mediated diseases such as immune-mediated haemolytic anaemia, immune-mediated thrombocytopaenia, immune-mediated polyarthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus;
  • Infectious diseases such as canine ehrlichiosis, tick bite fever, feline infectious peritonitis and fungal diseases;
  • Endocrine (hormone) diseases such as diabetes mellitus, Cushing’s disease, Addison’s disease, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism;
  • Heart diseases such as congestive heart failute, myxomatous mitral valve disease, dilated cardiomyopathy, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, pulmonary hypertension and congenital heart diseases;
  • Respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis, feline asthma, tracheal collapse, pulmonary fibrosis, pleural effusion and pneumonia;
  • Cancers such as osteosarcoma, lymphoma,  mast cell tumours and transitional cell carcinoma.

Services offered through the internal medicine clinic

  • Comprehensive physical examinations
  • Neurological examination
  • Advanced laboratory testing (In-house, national and international)
  • Blood pressure measurement
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG)
  • Advanced imaging (ultrasound, echocardiography, CT, MRI and fluoroscopy)
  • Endoscopy:
    • Upper gastrointestinal tract (Gastroduodenoscopy)
    • Lower gastrointestinal tract (Colonoscopy)
    • Nose (Rhinoscopy – dogs only)
    • Lungs (Bronschoscopy)
    • Bladder (Cystoscopy – female dogs only)
  • Bone marrow aspirates and biopsies
  • Feeding tube placement
    • Nasogastric tubes
    • Oesophagostomy tubes
    • PEG-tubes
  • CSF tap (lumbar puncture)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy