Veterinary Terminology | Let’s Decode It!

Here’s the scenario: You’re at the vets office. It’s time for little Fido’s annual shots, first shots, or whatever. The vet comes in. He/she starts examining cute little Fido. Then the vet starts sprouting out a foreign language. DA2PP? Boardetella? ANAL SACS?! It was like deja vu. You felt like you were at your own doctor. Not understanding what the heck the vet was talking about. Of course, if you’re like me – you’ll break out Google. Then your expert level will like gain 900XP! Veterinary terminology may sound confusing. But, in reality, it all can be broken down.

Before I worked at a veterinarian office, I was clueless. Sure, I loved animals. I had other pet industry gigs prior to that. I knew when they were fat, sick, or old. Sure, I felt like I was at expert level. That was until I began as a kennel technician at a local vet clinic. I was introduced to veterinary terminology. I was exposed right away. I sort of felt like I was on the set of the movie “Outbreak.” I felt taken over by the power of veterinarian medicine. There is SO much to learn. It’s insane. My brain was on overload. Who am I kidding?! It is STILL on overload.

There are medical terms for our common colds. I mean come on. What do doctors call strep throat? They call it Streptococcal pharyngitis. Yep. So, why would there be an exception to our furry family members? There isn’t. Somehow I believe there is a technical term for all words.

I love sharing everything with all of ya’ll who read my blog. So, now I want to share my brain overload with you. Get ready for brain overload in…

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veterinary terminology

Common Veterinary Terminology

Vaccines | There are core and non-core vaccinations. Core vaccinations are vaccines that are usually recommended for all pets. While non-core vaccinations are recommended based on the lifestyle of your pet.

Rabies | Core Vaccine | Rabies is a disease that can impact you and your pet. There is no treatment for cats with rabies. Most areas laws require that all pets have updated rabies vaccines.

Distemper  | Core Vaccine | Panleukopenia is the technical term for feline distemper. Feline distemper is a very contagious disease. Cats aren’t the only ones who can get distemper, though. Dogs can also get distemper. It can be just as deadly to them as well.

Herpesvirus | Core Vaccine | This is another recommend vaccine. It can cause a very dangerous upper respiratory problem. It’s also very contagious.

Callicivirus | Core Vaccine | Callicivirus is another very contagious upper respiratory disease. It also may cause joint pain in cats as well.

Feline Leukemia Virus | Non-core Vaccine | The Feline Leukeia Virus, also known as FeLV, is very contagious in cats as well. It’s also known to cause cancer. After an initial test is done to see if your cat has the virus, the vaccine isn’t usually recommended, unless the cats whereabouts are unknown. It may also be recommended if your cat spends time outside.

Bordetella | Non-core Vaccine | Ever heard the term kennel cough? Well, Bordetella is the fancy word for kennel cough. Kennel cough is usually seen mostly where there are animals housed close together. Such as, well, kennels. It’s an upper respiratory condition as well. It’s also very contagious. You’ll often hear about kennel cough outbreaks.

Leptospirosis | Non-core Vaccine | Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection. It can harm different organs of your pets body. Thankfully, Leptospirosis isn’t found everywhere. If it isn’t present where you live, it may not be recommended.

Lyme Disease | Non-Core Vaccine | I’m sure you’ve heard of the dreaded Lyme Disease. You may have thought you had it at one time. Pesky ticks spread the disease. But, thankfully, it also isn’t seen everywhere. Check to see if it’s present where you live and ask your vet on their recommendation for receiving it.

Coronavirus | Non-core Vaccine | The Coronavirus is a viral disease. The most common symptom seen with the coronavirus is diarrhea. Since the coronavirus doesn’t pose a huge threat, it may not be recommended. But, as always, consult with a veterinarian.

Giardia | Non-core Vaccine | The Giardia vaccine isn’t usually recommended. Mainly because it doesn’t protect against the infection of Giardia.

Canine Influenza Virus | Non-core Vaccine | The Canine Influenza Virus, also known as CIV, has became very prominent here lately. Mostly being seen in places like boarding facilities, grooming salons, etc. Most places you take your dog may require that this vaccine is current due to the recent outbreaks. But, it’s best to discuss this with a veterinarian.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus | Non-core Vaccine | Also known as FIV. Usually recommended for cats who explore or live outside. It is also a viral infection.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis | Non-core Vaccine | Commonly known as FIP. Another viral infection. Most of the time it is fatal. Not common in cats who are primarily indoors. FIP is seen more commonly in feral colonies.

It’s common for places to carry combo vaccines. These vaccines are a mixture of different vaccines. It still delivers what’s needed. It’s just in one syringe instead of having to poke your fur babies a gazillion time. There are also nice abbreviations for the combo vaccinations.

Decoding Combo Vaccines

DHPP | DHPP is a combo vaccine. It stands for: (D)istemper (H)epatitis (P)arainfluenza (P)arvovirs

DHLPP | DHLPP is a combo of also distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and the parvovirus. It also includes Leptospirosis.

DA2PP | DA2PP is a combo vaccine. It also includes distemper, parainfluenza, and parvovirus. As an addition, it includes the canine adenovirus-2 as well.

DHPPV | The DHPPV includes distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus.

FVRCP | FVRCP is a combo vaccine for cats. It stands for: (F)eline (V)iral (R)hinotracheitis (C)alicivirus (P)anleukopenia.

FVRCP-C | FVRCP-C is a combo vaccine for cats that includes the feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panelukopenia as well. But, as an addition, it also includes the vaccine for Chlamydia.

Test Results | Sometimes when you get a receipt from the vet that involved tests, there may be a lot of veterinary terminology on it. It would take me forever to count how many times clients called after getting their receipts. Wondering what something was that was listed on their receipt.

Fecal Exam | I think the name gives it away. It’s a test that’s performed by collecting some of your pets poop. It’s mixed with a solution and then observed under a microscope. Fecal exams are usually performed to check for parasites (worms). Fecal exams can also be done to check for the parvovirus.

U/A / Urinalysis / Urine Sample | Urine samples are often collected to check for urinary tract infections (UTIs), Some are done at the vet clinic. Others may have to be sent off to a laboratory for further investigation. A urinalysis checks many different factors of your pets urine.

BW / Bloodwork | Bloodwork may be done by individual tests. Or bloodwork may be done by “panels.” These panels may include many different factors in one test. Some vets can run bloodwork at their clinic. Some bloodwork may need to be sent off to a laboratory. Bloodwork is usually done by request or by veterinarian recommendation. Many veterinarians recommend yearly bloodwork for senior pets (7+ years old). Bloodwork is usually recommended prior to surgery as well. It also is helpful when determining why a pet is ill.

Eye Pressure Exam | An eye pressure exam is usually performed when glaucoma is suspected.

Schirmer Tear Test | This test measures how much tears your pets eyes are producing. Important in diagnosing dry eye. Dry eye can really irritate an eye.

Fluorescein Corneal Stain | If it is suspected there’s a laceration or cornea on a pets eye, this test may be performed.

Electroretinography (ERG) | The ERG tests that that retina is working the way it should.

Heartworm Testing | Heartworm tests, or HW tests, are tests where a small amount of blood is collected from your pet. It checks for heartworms, a roundworm parasite. Despite the name, these do not actually live in the heart. Heartwormsare found in the lungs. Heartworms can be life threatening. Their cheaper to prevent than to treat. Treatment can be expensive. All it takes is one mosquito bite from a mosquito that carries the heartworm disease. Dirofilaria immitis is the more complicated name for heartworms.

FeLV/FIV Combo Test | This combo test is performed on cats. It is used to detect if the cat has the Feline Leukemia Virus and/or the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

Parvovirus Test | The parvovirus test is usually performed on dogs who experience lethargy, sleepiness, severe vomiting, and severe diarrhea. The parvovirus may be treatable with continuous care. It’s also very contagious and can live outside for 7 years.

Cytology / Cytology Specimen / Smear / Cytosmear | These test usually consist of collecting some sort of sample from your pet. This could be a tissue sample, a sample of any body discharge, fluid, etc. It’s used to study the cells in that specific sample. Cytology test can be used to test for certain types of cancers. It can be used to detect diseases that may be pre-cancerous as well. It also may be used to help determine infectious diseases and other conditions as well.

Surgery Veterinary Terminology

Castration / Spay / Neuter | These are surgeries performed to remove your male pets “boy parts” and your female pets “girl parts.”

Dental Cleaning | A dental cleaning is a procedure where a vet deep cleans a pets teeth. It may also involve tooth extractions, plaque removal, etc.

Common Veterinary Terminology Abbreviations

WNL | “Within Normal Limits” is used when nothing out of the ordinary is found. Which is a good thing. Often seem on bloodwork results.

Tx | “Treatment.” Tx is the treatment plan the veterinarian intends to use.

SOAP: Soap stands for: (S)ubjective (O)bjective (A)ssessment (P)lan. This is pretty much a way for the vet to organize what’s going on and the plan to fix it. The subjective is the problem, the objective is the result you want but you’re not getting, the assessment is the examination, tests, etc. to determine the problem, and plan is what treatment will be done to help eliminate the problem.

TPR | TPR stands for: (T)emperature (P)ulse (R)espiration. This may be seen during monitoring during surgery.

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