The abdomen is that part of the body, lying between the chest and pelvis, containing the digestive organs (i.e. the belly)

Localized accumulation of pus in a cavity; usually associated with infection. A common outcome of cat fights.

A rapid and often severe onset. (e.g. acute infection)

Addison’s Disease
Is a rare, disorder in which the adrenal glands produce insufficient steroid hormones (corticosteroids). Lifelong treatment with steroid replacement therapy is required, with regular follow-up treatment and monitoring for other health problems.

Pertaining to food or the digestive tract (alimentary canal).

An allergen is a substance that can cause an allergic reaction. In allergic animals, the immune system recognizes allergens as “foreign” or “dangerous” and responds accordingly. In non-allergic animals these substances cause no immune response.

Loss of hair from the head or body. Hair loss, or alopecia, can have a variety of causes, including parasites, hormone imbalance, food allergies and infection. In order to treat your pet’s skin problem, it is important to identify the cause.

The relief of pain. An analgesic is something designed to relieve pain.

Anaphylaxis refers to a rapidly developing and serious allergic reaction that afects a number of different areas of the body at one time. Severe anaphylactic reactions can be fatal.

A lower than normal level of red blood cells (also referred to as erythrocytes) carrying oxygen to the body.

Anaesthesia is the total loss of feeling or sensation. It is induced with drugs to allow surgery or procedures to be performed without causing pain. Anaesthesia may be applied to the whole body, when it is known as general anaesthesia, or to part of the body, when it is known as local anaesthesia.

Loss of appetite, whatever the cause.

A compound or substance that kills or slows down the growth of bacteria. Antibiotics are not effective against viral infections.

Also known as an immunoglobulin, an antibody is a large Y-shaped protein to identify and neutralize foreign antigens like bacteria and viruses.

A medication used to treat vomiting and nausea.

A medication used to treat fungal infections such as ringworm.

A substance that triggers the production of an antibody. The immune system recognizes an antigen as a foreign and potentially harmful invader (e.g. bacteria and viruses).

A medication to relieve itching.

A medication to reduce a fever or high temperature.

A medication to relieve coughing. Veterinarians often prescribe antitussive medications to pets that suffer from conditions that cause severe or intense coughing, such as canine cough

Opening at the end of an animal’s digestive tract where faeces are expelled.

Disruption in the regularity of the heartbeat. They occur when the electrical impulses to the heart that co-ordinate heartbeats are not working properly, making the heart beat too fast/slow or inconsistently.

Pertaining to a joint.

The build-up of additional fluid in the abdomen, otherwise called the peritoneal cavity.

To draw in or out using a sucking motion. Aspiration can also mean breathing in a foreign object (such as inhaling food into the airway).

If a patient is a carrier for a disease or infection but is not experiencing clinical signs.

A neurological sign that consists of a lack of motor coordination of muscle movements. It often manifests as wobbliness or unsteadiness in animals.

Is a predisposition toward developing certain allergic reactions. Commonly used to describe atopic dermatitis, which results in skin irritation and inflammation.

Atrial Fibrillation
An irregular heart rhythm associated with disorganized electrical activity in the upper two chambers of the heart (atria). Its name comes from the fibrillating (i.e. quivering) of the heart muscles of the atria, instead of a coordinated contraction. The result of the rapid, irregular beats is ineffective filling of the ventricles, the bottom two chambers of the heart that pump blood out to the body.

Most commonly refers to a chamber in which blood enters the heart, as opposed to the ventricle, where it is pushed out.

Atrophy is the progressive decrease in the size of an organ or tissue.

Weakened. Normally refers to an attenuated vaccine whereby the disease-causing abilities of the vaccine components are weakened or attenuated during the manufacturing process to make them safe upon administration.

Auscultation is a method used to listen to the sounds of the body during a physical examination, usually with a stethoscope.

A medical condition characterized by an overactive immune system which attacks the body, mistaking normal tissues in the body for harmful substances.

A medical condition characterized by abnormally high levels of nitrogen-containing compounds, such as urea and creatinine, commonly as a result of kidney malfunction or dehydration.

A bacterium is a unicellular microorganism which represents one of the most basic and primitive forms of life. Bacteria are everywhere.  Some bacteria are capable of causing disease in animals.


Meaning two sides.

A green/yellow liquid formed in the liver. Bile plays a vital role in the digestion of fats.

The removal of a sample of tissue or cells from a living subject to determine the presence or extent of a disease.

A female dog.

A sac that receives and holds a liquid until it is excreted.  Often refers to the urinary bladder.

A medical condition in which the stomach becomes overstretched by excessive gas. Bloat is a very serious health risk for many deep-chested dogs.

Blood Glucose
The amount of glucose (sugar) present in the blood.

Bone Marrow
Bone marrow is a spongy, fatty tissue that houses stem cells, located inside a few large bones. These stem cells transform themselves into white and red blood cells and platelets.

The rumbling noise caused by the movement of gas through the stomach and/or intestines.

An abnormally slow heart rate.

The large airways within the lungs.

A substance that dilates the airways in the lungs.

Blood urea nitrogen (BUN) measures the amount of urea nitrogen, a waste product of protein metabolism, in the blood.  It can be used as an aid to measure kidney function.

Part of the gastrointestinal tract between the small and large intestines. It is a small, coiled organ in dogs.

The build-up of calcium salts in soft tissue, causing it to harden.

A concretion of material, usually mineral salts, that forms in an organ of the body. Bladder or kidney stones are an example of calculus.

A class of disease in which a group of cells display uncontrolled growth and invasion that intrudes upon and destroys adjacent tissues. Cancers sometimes spread to other locations in the body. This term is normally used to describe malignant tumours.

This fungus or yeast can normally be found in areas of the body such as the mouth, the genital and intestinal tracts. It can cause disease in animals.

Pertaining to dogs.

A subtype of cancer that arises from epithelial cells. Epithelial cells form the lining of our internal organs, cavities, glands, and skin.

Pertaining to the heart.

Literally means “heart muscle disease”.

A term relating to both the heart and lungs.

Refers to the circulatory system comprising the heart and blood vessels which carries nutrients and oxygen to the tissues of the body and removes carbon dioxide and other wastes.

The animal equivalent of our wrist.

Removal of the testicles.

White opacities in the lens of the eye. Cataracts are one of the most common problems affecting the eyes of the dog. There are many different forms and causes of cataract formation. Severe cataracts can cause blindness and may be an indicator of underlying diseases like diabetes.

A term meaning toward the tail or the posterior end of the body.

A region of the brain that plays an important role in motor control and co-ordination.

A region of the brain that controls emotional, behavioural and learning functions.

Treatment of cancer with drugs. The drugs used are slightly more toxic to cancer cells than healthy cells, so the cancer is treated without causing permanent damage.

A disease of slow onset and of long duration. (e.g. chronic osteoarthritis)

A chronic disease of the liver whereby healthy tissue is replaced by scar tissue.

Central Nervous System (CNS)
Consists of the brain and spinal cord.

The process by which the body forms a blood clot (thrombus) that prevents further blood loss from damaged tissues, blood vessels or organs.

A defect in the body’s mechanism for making blood clots.

Coccidia are microscopic, single celled organisms that infect animal cells. They can cause watery or bloody diarrhoea in pets.

Inflammation of the large intestine (colon).

The section of the large intestine extending from the caecum to the rectum.

Colostrum is an antibody-rich milk which is secreted by all female animals during the first few days of a newborn’s life.

A state of unconsciousness from which an animal cannot be awakened.

Complete Blood Count
A complete blood count (CBC), also known as full blood count (FBC) or blood panel, is a test that gives information about the cells in a patient’s blood. It is used to evaluate overall health and detect a wide range of disorders, including anaemia and infection.

Computerized Tomography Scan (CT Scan)
Also called computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan, combines a series of X-ray views taken from many different angles to produce cross-sectional images of the bones and soft tissues inside your pet’s body.

A condition that is present at birth.

The tissue lining the inner surface of the eyelids and covering the white of the eyes (sclera).

Inflammation of the conjunctiva.

A condition in which bowel movements occur less often than usual or consist of hard, dry stools that are painful or difficult to pass.

The eating of faeces. Is considered normal behaviour in some species, such as rabbits. However, in other species coprophagy can be related to certain diseases or behavioural problems.

Core Vaccine
Vaccines which are strongly recommended, and sometimes even required.  For example, parvovirus vaccine in dogs or panleucopenia in cats.

The clear front part of the eye.

Any of the steroid hormones produced by the adrenal gland or their synthetic equivalents.

Pertaining to the head or in the direction of the head.

The propagation of microorganisms in a growth media. Used to diagnose and guide treatment for infectious diseases.

Cushing’s Syndrome
A condition where abnormalities in either the pituitary gland or adrenal glands cause the release of too much natural cortisone (corticosteroid).

Relating to, or affecting the skin.

A bluish colour of the skin and the mucous membranes due to insufficient oxygen in the blood.

A pathologic space in bone or soft tissue containing fluid or semi-solid material.

Inflammation of the urinary bladder.

Refers to a branch of pathology that deals with making diagnoses of diseases based on the examination of cells.

The excessive loss of body water.

Pertaining to the skin.

Inflammation of the skin.

Diabetes Mellitus
A disease where the body is unable to absorb sugars (glucose). It is commonly treated with insulin.

Diagnostic Test
A test to determine the presence or cause of disease.

Excessive and frequent evacuation of watery faeces, usually indicating gastrointestinal distress or disorder.

Digestive System
The organs responsible for the transit and metabolism of food in the body. These organs include salivary glands, mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, colon, rectum, and anus.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy
A disorder in which the chambers of the heart are dilated (enlarged). The heart muscle is weakened and cannot pump effectively.

A cleaning process which destroys most microorganisms, but not highly resistant forms.

An infectious viral disease occurring in dogs.  Clinical signs include loss of appetite, a discharge from the eyes and nose, vomiting, fever, lethargy, partial paralysis and sometimes death.

A substance increases the production of urine.

Domestic Animal
An animal that is not wild and is kept as a pet or to produce food.

Dry Eye
Also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), is a condition that results from the inadequate production of tears.

The first part of the small intestine. The duodenum extends from the stomach to the jejunum (the second part of the small intestine).

Duration of Immunity
Length of time an animal is protected from a disease after vaccination. Vaccines for some diseases provide a long duration of immunity, others only provide immunity for up to a year.

Difficulty in swallowing.

A term used in pathology  meaning abnormal development of tissues.

Difficult or laboured breathing; shortness of breath.

Difficult birth.

Painful or difficult urination.

Ear Canal
The narrow tube, between the ear and ear drum, through which sound enters the ear.

Ear Drum
The thin membrane that separates the middle ear from the external ear. Also called the tympanic membrane.

Ear Mites
Mites that live in the ears of animals. They can just barely be seen as a small white dot with the naked eye.

An electrocardiogram (ECG) is a test that records the electrical activity of the heart.

A test that uses sound waves to create a moving picture of the heart (i.e. an ultrasound of the heart).

A parasite, such as a flea, that lives on the exterior of an animal.

Meaning “out of place.” (e.g. an ectopic pregnancy is one that has implanted outside the reproductive system)

In medicine, certain mineral elements that are critically important to life, including sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and phosphorous.

Elizabethan Collar
A medical device that is shaped just like a cone and is used to prevent the animal from biting, licking, and scratching at wounds and injuries while they heal.

A wasted condition of the body.


Inflammation of the brain.

Disease, damage, or malfunction of the brain.

Pertaining to hormones and the glands that make them. These hormones regulate an animal’s growth, physiology and sexual development.

A lighted medical instrument used to get examine organs such as the oesophagus, stomach or airways.

Endotracheal Tube
A breathing tube placed into the trachea. Commonly used during anaesthesia to facilitate delivery of oxygen and anaesthetic to the lungs.

Inflammation of the intestine, especially the small intestine

The act of injecting a poisonous material (venom) by sting, spine or bite.

Enzymes are proteins that increase the rate of chemical reaction. Almost all processes in a cell need enzymes to occur at significant rates.

The outer layer of the skin.

Technical name for bleeding from the nose.