Say What? Veterinary terms explained!

Posted by MyDogDoc on

We understand that vets can sometimes use quite complicated words , sometimes for quite simple things! Here is a glossary of words that you might hear and their meanings.


Abdomen- the part of the body between the chest and the hips containing the stomach and other digestive organs.

Addisons- also known as hypoadrenocorticism. A condition where the adrenal glands fail to produce the hormones that they are in charge of in the body.

Adrenal glands-small glands at top of the kidneys that produce hormones that help regulate metabolism, immune system, blood pressure, response to stress and other essential functions.

Alopecia- hair loss

Antiseptic – something that can be used to make a surface free of germs

Arrhythmia- a heart beat that does not have a normal rhythm

Arthritis-inflammation of the joints

Ascities- build up of fluid in the abdomen

Ataxia-unbalanced gait. Uncoordinated movement /loss of balance

Atopy/atopic dermatitis-itchy skin disease associated with allergies to things in the environment

Aural-relating to the ears

Auscultation- listening with a stethoscope


Benign-used to describe a tumour that does not spread or invade nearby tissue

Bilateral- meaning on both sides

Biopsy- taking a small sample for further testing, often from a growth /tumour or the skin

Bloat- stomach filled with gas

Brachycephalic- used to describe short-nosed or flat-faced dogs.

Bradycardia- a heart beat that is slower than normal

Bronchitis-inflammation of the airways


Cardiac- relating to the heart

Castration-usually refers to surgical removal of the testicles.

Chemical castration-involves a hormonal implant under the skin which suppresses testosterone.

Chronic-describing a condition that has been going on for a prolonged period of time

Colitis- Inflammation of the colon (large intestine) causing diarrhoea often with mucus and /or blood

Congenital- a condition that has been present since birth

Cornea-the transparent layer at the front of the eye

Cruciate ligament-tough band of fibrous tissue that attaches the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone), preventing the tibia from shifting forward relative to the femur.

Cryptorchid- one or both testicles have not descended into the scrotum.

Cushings- also known as hyperadrenocorticism. A condition where a dog’s body produces too much of the stress hormone cortisol.

Cystitis- inflammation of the bladder

Cytology- examining cells down a microscope


Defaecation- the act of passing poo!

Dermatitis-inflammation of the skin

Dermatophytosis-also known as ringworm, a fungal infection of the skin

Diuretics- ‘water tablets’, drugs used to prevent or reduce water retention in the body

Dyspnoea- difficulty breathing

Dystocia- Difficulties giving birth


Ectoparasites- parasites that live on the skin such as fleas, ticks, lice

Emesis- vomiting

Endocrine- relating to hormones

Endoscopy- allows the inside of the body to be looked at using an endoscope which is a thin flexible tube with a light and a camera on the end.

Epilepsy- a condition causing frequent or recurring seizures.


FAD- Flea allergic dermatitis- also known as flea bite hypersensitivity, it is an allergic reaction to flea saliva injected by the bites of fleas.

Faeces- poo!

FNA- fine needle aspirate- a quick procedure using a needle is to remove some cells from a lump or growth . These are squirted onto a slide and examined under the microscope.


Gastric- relating to the stomach

Gastritis- inflammation of the stomach lining

Gastroenteritis-inflammation of the stomach and intestines causing vomiting and diarrhoea

GDV-Gastric Dilation Volvulus – where a dog’s stomach becomes overstretched and twisted by excessive gas content.

Gestation- the amount of time for which an animal is pregnant.

Gingivitis – Inflammation of the gums


HGE- Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis-sudden disorder characterised by vomiting and bloody diarrhoea

Haematology- the study of blood cells

Haematoma- abnormal collection of blood outside of a blood vessel

Haematuria- blood in the urine

Hernia – where contents of the abdomen such as fat or organs push through a hole or weak area in the muscle wall.

Hyper- too much or an excess of something

Hypo- not enough or a deficit of something

Hypertension- High blood pressure

Hypotension- low blood pressure


Iatrogenic- illness caused by medical exam or treatment

Icterus- another word for jaundice- yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes

Immune mediated- a disease caused by the body’s own immune system

Inflammation-the body’s reaction against injury and infection

Intertrigo- skin fold dermatitis, a rash between skin folds

Intestines- the ‘guts’ from the stomach to the rectum

Intravenous- into a vein, usually used to describe how a drug or fluids are given


Jaundice-yellow discolouration of the skin and mucous membranes

Jugular- major blood vessels that run on the left and right side of the neck, often used to collect blood sample from in dogs.


Lactation- producing milk from the mammary glands

Laparotomy- a surgical procedure that involves opening up the abdominal cavity.

Larynx-the voice box, part of the respiratory system

Lethargy- reduced activity, lack of energy


Malassezia- a type of yeast that lives on the surface layers of the skin .

Malignant- used to describe a cancerous tumour that can invade nearby tissues and spread to other

parts of the body.

Mange-a disease of the skin caused by certain mites.

Mastitis- Inflammation and infection of the mammary glands

Melaena- black faeces that have digested blood in them.

Meningitis-a condition where the protective tissue around the brain and spinal cord becomes inflamed.

Mucous membranes -moist membranes that line and protect the inside of the body and can be found on the gums, inside of the nose for example.


Nasal- relating to the nose

Necrosis- death of tissues, can be found in wounds and abscesses for example

Neoplasia- abnormal growth of cells, another word for tumours

NSAID- Non Steroidal Anti inflammatory Drug – a group of drugs that relieve pain and reduce inflammation.


Oncology- the study of tumours

Oral-relating to the mouth

Otitis- inflammation of the ear canal

Ovariohysterectomy- Spaying- Surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus


Palliative- care aimed at keeping an animal comfortable rather than treating a condition.

Palpation- examination through feeling

Pancreas-an organ that sits close to the stomach and produces enzymes to assist in food digestion and hormones such as insulin, which regulates blood sugar or glucose metabolism.

Pancreatitis- inflammation of the pancreas that causes vomiting, nausea and pain.

Paralysis-loss of use of part of the body

Parasite-an organism that lives off another animal

Patella-knee cap

Perineal- relating to the area around the anus

Peritoneal-relating to the inside of the abdominal cavity

Pinna- the ear flap

Platelets-small blood cells responsible for blood clotting

Polydipsia-excessive thirst

Polyhagia-excessive hunger

Polyuria- excessive urination

Purulent- containing pus

Pyoderma- bacterial skin infection

Pyometra- womb (uterus) infection

Pruritus- Itchiness

Pustule- a pus filled spot

Pyoderma- bacterial skin infection


Radiograph- an X-ray

Regurgitation- bringing up undigested food/fluids from the throat, happens suddenly without nausea/heaving or retching.

Renal- relating to the kidneys

Respiration-the act of breathing

Respiratory rate- number of breaths per minute


Sclera- the white part of the eye

Seborrhoea-skin condition that causes flaky skin and greasiness of the skin and hair

Seizure-an involuntary action which causes the muscles to contract ( a fit )

Septic- something that is infected

Spay- common term for an ovariohysterectomy which is a surgical procedure that involves removing the female dog’s reproductive organs.

Spleen-a vascular organ in the abdomen involved in the production and removal of red blood cells and forming part of the immune system.

Splenic- relating to the spleen


Tachycardia-fast heart rate


Thrombus- blood clot

Torsion-a twist, sometimes in an organ. Eg gastric torsion is a twisted stomach

Toxin- a poisonous substance capable of causing harm

Trachea-wind pipe


Uraemic-build up of waste products and toxins in the blood stream that are normally filtered by the kidneys.

Urolith- a stone in the bladder

Uterus- womb, female reproductive organ


Vomiting – bringing up food partially digested food from the stomach with abdominal contractions and nausea


Whelping-the process of a dog giving birth to puppies


Zoonosis- diseases that can be passed from animals to humans

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