Medical Terms & Definitions

ACTH stimulation test – Commonly used for diagnosing Cushing disease, this test is to monitor your dogs’ reaction to the administration of ACTH (a glucocorticoid). In normal, healthy patients the brain triggers the release of ACTH via the adrenal glands. In the case of Cushings’ disease, the body overproduces this hormone, resulting in immune system compromise, sodium and potassium imbalance, unregulated blood pressure, fluctuating glucose levels and improper metabolism of the bodies nutritional intake.

Anal glands – These are glands (one on either side of the anal opening) that discharge an odorous liquid into the feces during a bowel movement. Sometimes the liquid material becomes too firm to be excreted by the natural muscle movement and becomes impacted within the gland. This requires the manual expression by human hands. Depending on the nature and frequency of the impaction, it can usually be expressed by yourself (your veterinarian will teach you how) or by a pet groomer. More difficult situations (painful abscesses and resulting infections will need medical treatment).

Atopy or Atopic – having to do with the surface of the skin, mainly allergenic in nature.


  • Stifle – The animal’s knee joint.
  • Hock – Foot joint (ankle in humans).
  • Tarsus – The section of leg between the tibia (lower leg bone) and the foot.
  • Stop – Forehead .
  • Muzzle – Snout/whole nose and mouth area.
  • Pinna – Ear flap.
  • Carpus – Wrist joint.
  • Thorax – The chest cavity.
  • Abdomen – The portion of the body from the base of the ribs down to the pelvis.
  • Ventral – Along the underside of the animal (throat, chest, abdomen, groin).
  • Dorsal – Along the back of the animal (from head to tail).
  • Lateral – Along the sides of the animal, and the outside of the fore and hind limbs.
  • Medial – Along the inside of the fore and hind limbs.
  • Cranial – Towards the front of the animal.
  • Caudal – Towards the rear of the animal.

Anemia – decrease in the number of red blood cells by volume in the blood.

Antibiotics – These are substances (liquid or powder) that are cultured from organisms, or synthetically replicated, to kill of select types of bacteria, fungi and other harmful micro-organisms. Antibiotics are generally prescription medications, but there are some alternative products (see the chapter on Alternative Care)

Atrophy – This is the wasting away of (predominately) muscle tissue from lack of use, most commonly due to an injury that prevents normal movement.

Aural Hematoma – This is a swelling of blood in the pinna of the ear. Generally caused by an untreated infection in the ear, the pet begins scratching at and shaking the ear. The tissue fibers in the pinna (flap) of the ear separate and start to bleed. This blood accumulates rapidly in the flap of the ear, giving it a puffy shape. The ear flap becomes quite painful from all this pressure and usually this is when pets will bite if someone touches it. The two most common treatments are 1) to drain the blood into a negative pressure sterile syringe and inject an anti-inflammatory back into the ear, or, 2) to surgically open the flap of the ear, drain the contents, flush the wound and stitch the flaps back together, not along the incision site where it was cut, but actually through both front and back layers to pull the tissues back together that tore apart in the first place. This is to prevent a reoccurrence. Option one is much less expensive, but it not always successful and generally must be done more than once before it heals.

Ausculation (Aus) – meaning the listening for noises in the thorax (chest cavity) or abdomen, as well as the heart, for unusual noises (murmurs, gasses, crackling, etc.) for diagnostic purposes.

BID – Twice per day (usually every 12 hours).

Bilateral – meaning “both sides”.

Biopsy – Surgical removal of a small amount of abnormal tissue to send away for diagnosis to determine if its state. Usually done with a local freezing, or under sedation if necessary depending on the location and size of biopsy being taken and, the temperament of the animal itself.

Blocked – (urinary obstruction) A dangerous medical condition most predominately found in male cats where urinary crystals or stones have become lodged in the urethra (due to its narrow size) and are preventing urine from draining from the bladder. This condition is extremely painful as the bladder continues to increase in size much larger than its natural capacity will hold. If not rapidly treated, the urine will leak from small ruptures in the bladder due to pressure causing self-poisoning and death.

Bloodwork Definitions:

  • CBC – Complete Blood Count
  • PAB – Pre-Anaesthetic Blood profile
  • Hemoglobin – an iron compound protein found in red blood cells for transporting oxygen.
  • Hematocrit – measurement of the percentage of erythrocytes  (mature red blood cells).
  • Platelets – thrombocytes , they mix with fibrin for blood clotting ability.
  • Neutrophils – a member of the white blood cell group.
  • Eosinophils – part of the white blood cell family, reacts to allergic response and deactivates histamine.
  • Basophils – leukocytes capable of ingesting foreign proteins and produce both heparin and histamine.
  • Lymphocytes – member of the white blood cell family, they attack infectious agents.
  • Creatinine – a product of metabolism formed in muscle tissue, it is used as an indicator of renal kidney function.

Brief exam – Similar to Comprehensive Exam, but does not include core temperature and scanning the entire body for lumps and bumps. Main purpose is to check gum colour, lymph nodes, eyes, and abdominal organs through palpation to assess general overall health, usually for administering medications, giving vaccines, etc.

Castration (Neutering) – The most common of all surgeries performed on male dogs and cats. The procedure involves the permanent removal of the testes from the scrotal sac. This prevents sperm form being secreted, as well as greatly reduces the animal’s ability to produce testosterone, thus calming its behaviour.

Catheterization – The procedure of inserting a thin, flexible urinary tube into the urethra for the purpose of collecting a sterile urinary sample or dislodging impacted urinary stones or crystals stuck in the urethra, especially in the case of a “blocked” ureter.

Clip and Clean Wound – A procedure where an injured or infected are has the hair shaved off and the wounded area flushed and cleaned with an antibacterial agent to prepare for treatment.

CNS – Central Nervous System. This is the main nervous system of the body and incorporates the nerves of the brain and spinal column.

Complimentary Exam – Many clinics offer this exam (same as a Brief) if you end up having to perform radiographs, have to purchase expensive medications, or have a chronic on-going, slow resolving issue that needs constant monitoring.

Comprehensive exam – Full exam includes checking ears, eyes, mouth, teeth, lymph nodes, palpating the abdomen, heart rate, elbows and stifles (knee joints), shoulders, feel general body condition and surface for lumps and bumps, trim nails, take core body temperature if needed (for presenting illnesses).

Congestive heart failure –  a serious condition where the heart is no longer able to pump blood adequately through the body.

Cornea – The transparent, outermost layer of the eyeball.

CRT– Capillary Refill or Recap Test. This is where the index finger is pressed against the gum line of an animal and the released to see how fast the colour returns to that spot for determining the blood profusion/oxygen circulation of the body.

Cruciate Ligament Tear- One of the most common injuries to dogs (very rare in cats), this is the partial or complete rupture of one of the main ligaments in the stifle (knee) joint. There are two main ligaments (caudal and cranial), one of which literally rips partially, or fully, usually during heavy exercise or play (and occasionally due to a sudden slip or fall) Presents with lameness on the affected hind leg (usually immediately) and can be diagnosed via palpation of the joint by your vet, and usually requires radiographs with sedation for confirmation (especially with a partial tear). For dogs under 20 lbs in weight, it is quite possible for them to get by without surgery, unless they are very active. Dogs over that weight rarely do well without surgical repair with a full rupture. They can however, heal up relatively well with a partial tear following a strict regimen of rest then modified exercise, however, if not surgically repaired, there is a high chance of re-injury resulting in a full rupture.

Cystitis – inflammation of the bladder. Generally caused by an infection, bladder stones or cystals.

Cysts – An abnormal sac structure of tissue containing pus (infection) and/or sebum (an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands to seal the skin against water loss) Antibiotics may be required to help get rid of the underlying cause of the issue. Sebaceous cysts are generally caused by the glands overproducing the oily material and becoming bigger, which results in the oily matter becoming trapped and hardening up under the skin.

Daily Professional Care – This covers the cost of your veterinarian’s time and care. It includes monitoring the effectiveness of drugs given, vital stats, reading bloodwork, conversing with other veterinarians in unusual or unresponsive cases, conversing with specialists and with the owner via updates.

Debriding – The process of cleaning and removing necrotic (dead) tissue from a wound so that the new healthy tissue can grow. It is usually performed under anaesthetic or local freezing using a scalpel blade or surgical laser unit.

Degenerative Myelopathy – degenerative condition of the myelin (fat-like substance that covers the nerve fibres for transferring nerve impulse signals ) in the spinal column.

Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism) – This mainly dog-oriented disease is caused by an overproduction of the hormone cortisol by the adrenal glands. Cortisol affects many organs in the body, resulting in a variety of symptoms in the animal. Some of these symptoms include hair loss, bloated stomach appearance, flaky or scaly skin, increased appetite, increased drinking and increased urination. Testing is complex and usually involves an ACTH Stimulation Test (see chapter on Terminology and Defenitions)

Depending on the results of the tests, various options are available, usually starting with medications to reduce the output of cortisol into the system and possibly antibiotics to treat urinary tract infections and yeast infected skin. Testing will need to be followed up on a regular basis to determine the effectiveness of the medication in the body.

Diabetes – This is a disease in which the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, preventing the body from properly utilizing sugars, proteins and fats. When insulin is not produced, the body begins to accumulate sugar in the blood, which is rapidly filtered into the bladder via the kidneys. High sugar levels lead to tiredness, lethargy (loss of energy), eye problems and chronic infections (especially in the bladder and skin). Fats and proteins are not able to be properly metabolized by the body and the animal will generally lose weight from poor nutrition.

Blood glucose level testing is necessary for the first couple of weeks until the optimal dose of insulin is achieved. Bloodwork will be performed later at regular intervals to ensure the body is responding properly.

Lyme Disease – This disease is carried by infected ticks which transmit the disease to their host when they bite (puncturing the skin) to feed, passing the bacteria into the tissue. Symptoms usually take three to six months to be noticeable (at least three weeks in a blood test) and signs include lethargy, loss of appetite, sore joints (resembling arthritis), fever and swollen lymph nodes. Left untreated, it can worsen in some cases and attack the kidneys, casing failure and death. Prevention is the best protection against Lyme disease.

Hypothyroidism – This condition is when the thyroid glands produce fewer hormones than required for regular bodily functions. Symptoms include weight gain, a dull, poor fur coat, flaky looking skin, lethargy, and in chronic cases skin and ear infections. Bloodwork is used to definitely diagnose this condition, and to monitor medication levels in future testing.

Pancreatitis – This disease is an inflammation of the pancreas. The job of the pancreas is to            . Symptoms usually include lethargy and in a sudden attack, severe pain in the abdomen along with vomiting. In a severe case your dog will slowly go into shock in a matter of hours. Prognosis at this point is guarded and usually turns fatal. Moderate cases are treated the same with intravenous fluids and pain medications.

Dx – Diagnosis.

Ear Swab – This procedure involves the process of obtaining a sample smear of the debris-contents inside our pet’s ear with a cotton swab. The smear is then placed on a microscope slide, dyed with various chemicals to identify individual types of bacteria (see types) and viewed under a microscope.

Entropian – This is a condition where the upper (most commonly) or lower eyelid folds inward, causing the eyelashes to rub on the cornea of the eye. This painful irritating condition generally results in a continual infection and damage to the eye – usually due to bacteria and debris being put into the eye by the pet’s feet, or rubbing against the irritated eye on the carpet, etc. Surgical correction under anaesthetic is required, which involves removing a portion of the eyelid, which in turn pulls the fold back out where it belongs so that the eyelashes grow outward in a natural manner.

Euthanasia – Commonly referred to as “putting to sleep”, this is the procedure of ending a pet’s life via administration of sedation overdose. The drug used is a potent sedative that, when given in excess, causes an immediate lapse into unconsciousness, followed by the heart and lungs stopping, causing death. The drug (a liquid) is injected directly into a vein. In some cases, a calming sedative is given a few minutes prior to calm stressed or aggressive animals.

Eye/Corneal Staining – This procedure involves instilling a few drops of flourosene into your  pet’s eye to look for damage (scratches/foreign body) on the surface (cornea) of the eyeball. The dye coats the eyeball and the veterinarian will examine the eye with a special coloured light with an autoscope. If there is a scratch or foreign body the stain will seep into that area making it visible to the vet. This is a very important test that should be done if you notice anything wrong with your pets eye(s). Bacteria can replicate rapidly and cause severe eye damage in only a day or two.

Fascia – the connective tissue (including fat) that covers all the muscles and organs beneath the skin.

Fatty Lump/Deposit – Known medically as a lipoma, these are growths that start below skin level usually arising in the connective tissue between skin and muscle. These are not considered cancerous, or defined as a tumour. Some will stay small, while others may continue to get larger as more fat grows there. Lipomas do not usually ever need to be removed unless they 1) cause an infected cyst to appear, or 2) are somewhere uncomfortable (such as the pets’ ribcage where they lie on it, or in the armpit, groin, etc.). A Fine Needle Aspirate (see below) is usually performed to test whether they are just fat or a tumourous growth.

FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration) – This is a procedure where a fine hypodermic needle is inserted into an unusual mass or just under the skin for the purpose of drawing out a small amount of its contents for diagnosis under the microscope. Commonly used to test cysts (for being sebaceous or possibly cancerous), this test is virtually painless and does not require a local freezing of the tissue.

Fructosamine Test –  Fructosamine is a protein that binds very strongly to the glucose in blood. A fructosamine test will give your veterinarian a better “picture” of how the glucose has been managed by the body in the past few weeks. This test should be run at regular intervals to ensure your pets’ insulin dose is in the optimal range.

General Anaesthesia – This is a full drug-induced sleep in which most surgeries are performed. The patient is kept under full sedation via intubation (where a tube is passed into the trachea of the patient) and they are kept asleep via drugs (usually isoflourane vapour) and oxygen being pumped in via an anaesthetic machine.

Granulation – The natural process of fibroblasts reproducing over an area of open wound (where there is a lack of skin tissue to stitch back together), providing the base for the epithelium (skin tissue) to grow across.

Hepatic – meaning related to the liver.

Hepatitis – inflammation of the liver.

Hip Dysplasia – A hereditary disease wherein the ball on the femur does not fit well into the socket of the pelvis, causing a loose “sloppy” joint. This joint is unable to properly bear the animals weight, resulting in mobility issues and lameness.

Histopathology – The specialized process of testing a tissue sample for confirmation of the cellular structure and make-up of the material sent. This involves sending full masses or growths that have been removed, or sending biopsies (small test sections) of larger growths for accurate identification. Most testing is done to confirm or rule out cancerous growths. Testing usually takes a few days as the tissue is specially prepared and dyed and put through various stages of examination at a specialized facility.

Hospitalization – This includes the actual care of your pet by veterinary technical staff. It covers feeding, cleaning of the kennel (cage), taking out for bathroom breaks (which generally involves disconnecting and re-connecting to the intravenous pump), changing & cleaning bedding, providing warming blankets and warming bags, monitoring food and liquid intakes, monitoring the excretion of stool and urine, monitoring IV fluids, and the administering/recording of medications.

Hyperthyroidism – The over activity of the thyroid gland producing excess levels of thyrotropin (T3) This results in on overactive metabolism and inability to properly absorb essential nutrients. This generally causes weight loss, hair loss, a compromised immune system, lack of energy, and general over-aging.

Hypoallergenic – meaning a food protein that is not readily recognized as an allergen, or any other substance administered to an animal that does not trigger an allergic reaction (such as certain topical ointments and creams, shampoo, medications, etc.)

Inflammation – Is the natural response of the system to an invasive stimulus on, or in, the body. The body responds by infusing the area with leukocytes and proteins in the blood. This is where the redness and swelling come from. Inflammation can be either “acute” or “chronic”. Acute inflammation is new or quite recent (such as from an injury earlier today or in the past couple days) whereas Chronic inflammation is a condition that has been ongoing for weeks or months due to improper or non-treatment. Inflammation refers to any condition that contains the suffix “itis”

Internal Parasites & Worms:

Hookworm: These parasites are rarely seen outside the body due to their small size, and their nature of having a hooked end which they use to attach themselves to the lining of the intestinal walls. Humans can get these parasites (more common in children). They present with diarrhea and an itchy anus (pets will “scoot” along the floor). Since they cannot be readily seen, confirmation is via a fecal analysis at your veterinarian. Treatment is easy and inexpensive. Can be treated with natural products (see chapter on Alternative Care) or with a product from your veterinarian.

Roundworm: An internal parasite in the digestive tract, these worms can reach several inches in length and look like strands of spaghetti. Usually passes out in the stool, several worms at a time. In heavily infested pets, it can migrate up into the stomach and be vomited out. This parasite can be transferred to humans (especially children) by the ingestion of their microscopic eggs. They are easily treated with a product from your veterinarian or other sources (see the Alternative Care chapter) These parasites cause a lack of nutrients being absorbed & gastric issue such as diarrhea & irritable bowel syndrome)

Whipworm: A difficult to diagnose intestinal parasite, these worms grow up to 7 cm in length and are not seen outside the body. They attach themselves to the intestinal wall, feeding on blood. The eggs are only passed intermittently by the female, thus they do not show up on every fecal sample that is tested. Once eggs have shed out of the body, they can live in carpets, basements, pets bedding, and even in the yard for years in a hospitable environment. They cause diarrhea, weight loss, poor fur coat, and other conditions related to the inflamed bowels not absorbing nutrients properly. Severe infestations from lack of treatment can result in serious health problems including anemia, dehydration and internal infections from immune deficiency.

Tapeworm: Another internal parasite in the digestive system, they can reach several inches in length. Long and flat “ribbon like” parasites, they are recognized by the small “rice like” segments found around the anus, in the fur around the anal opening and on bedding where the pet sleeps. Transferrable to humans (children are especially at risk due to hygiene issues and constant contact with the pet) causes mal-absorption of nutrients, weight loss, diarrhea, gastric upset, foul smelling gas and other issues. Usually needs to be treated with a prescribed medication as over-the-counter products rarely kill tapeworms.

Giardia– A parasitic organism found in the intestines, it presents with diarrhea, usually containing mucous and blood. Diagnosis is via a fecal sample, and is relatively inexpensive to treat with products from your veterinarian. Giardia is contracted through the ingestion of contaminated feces (either eaten, or even touched with the nose and ingested via licking) Some forms can attack the liver.  Due to the serious nature of this parasite, pet store remedies are not advised

Coccidia A bacteria found in the digestive tract that can be difficult to diagnose. As with other intestinal parasites, it presents with diarrhea and can usually only be revealed at your veterinary clinic once there is a rampant enough amount of cells to be viewed under the microscope. Fecal samples sent to a special laboratory through your veterinarian can diagnose this condition sooner. Like Giardia, it is contracted through the ingestion of contaminated stools from other dogs and cats.

Heartworm – This parasite (transferred to pets via infected mosquitos) is the deadliest type of worm your pet can get. Reaching several inches in length, and growing dozens thick, these parasites reproduce in the bloodstream with the adults lodging in the animals’ heart where they clog up the main heart valves causing gradual heart failure. Heartworms need to be prevented rather than being treated after an infection. Treatment after the fact is very expensive (well in excess of $1000), and depending on how far the disease has progressed, may be too late for your pet. There are several treatments required and severe complications possible with the treatments (nausea, pain, fever, risk of compromised heart function, shock & heart failure). Preventatives for this disease are available at your veterinarian and some pet stores. There are no known natural preventatives.

Laparotomy – A procedure in which a large incision is made in the abdominal wall for the purpose of investigating the condition of an animal’s spleen, liver, intestines, etc. Generally performed when bloodwork shows an internal issue that is not coming up visible on radiographs (X-rays) or ultrasound, or to further investigate an issue (such as growth or tumour) or an organ that did show up as some form of imagery.

Laser surgery vs scalpel blade – Laser surgery still involves the same removal or repair that traditional surgery, however, instead of cutting the tissue with a scalpel blade, a laser is used. The laser beam cauterizes blood vessels as it cuts, causing very little bleeding and very little trauma to the surrounding tissue. This enables incisions to heal much faster, eliminates contamination from the scalpel blade and causes less discomfort to your pet.

Laser Therapy – Known as Cold Laser Therapy or Low Level Light Therapy. This is a relatively new treatment modality that involves the use of laser light penetrating skin and muscle tissue for the purpose of cell regeneration, reduction in pain signal transmission, nerve regeneration and increasing the speed of the bodies’ natural response to localized injury healing. Most common uses are for pain due to arthritis and muscular issues, dental applications, infections of tissue and various causes of inflammation.

Mange – Sarcoptic and Demodex – A type of skin condition caused by parasitic mites living in your pet’s skin tissue. Sarcoptic Mange mites burrow deep into the pet’s skin, while Demodectic Mange lives in the hair follicles. Demodex is found mostly in animals where the immune system is low or compromised. Both types need treatment or the red, itchy patches and loss of hair caused by the mites feeding on, then defecating into the surrounding tissue.

MM – Mucous Membranes (found in the mouth and throat) the tissues that cover the entire oral cavity. Color and …. of this tissue indicates how the animals circulatory sytem is doing . Healthy pink means blood is circulating normaly, Hyper pigmented – very red, means the blood pressure is very high (usually from pain, shock from an accident, etc) and Bluish, meaning the oxygen level/blood profusion  is poor White indicates a totally lack of circulation of blood, usually from severe anemia or complete organ failure. Yellow is a sign of jaundice which is caused by excess bile pigments in the blood (generally caused by liver failure).

Ovariohysterectomy (Spaying) – The most common of surgeries for female dogs and cats. The procedure involves the permanent removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes, rendering the pet sterile to prevent unwanted litters. It also greatly reduces the production of estrogen hormones, thus reducing the risk of mammary and cervical cancers.

Over-the-counter Medications – Nutritional supplements, general de-wormers (hookworm, whipworm), essential oils for skin and coat, joint supplements for hips, spine, elbows, stifles, etc. affected by arthritis, non-medical skin and coat cleaners, shampoos, etc., skunk odour remover.

Per Os – Orally, meaning taken “by mouth”.

Pericardium – the fibrous sac surrounding the heart. Congestive heart failure is when this sac fills with interstitial fluid and compresses against the heart causing compromised function.

Prescription Medications – These are drugs that can only be dispensed to your pet by a veterinarian, or scripted out to a human pharmacist. Most of these medications are antibiotics, steroids, pain medications, liver and kidney drugs, thyroid medications, heart drugs, anti-anxiety drugs, anti-seizure medications, some flea, tick and heartworm preventatives, tapeworm medications, eye ointments (especially those containing steroids or anti-bacterial ingredients) and  anti-itch creams and sprays containing steroids.

Pyometra – A serious condition found in older female dogs and cats that have not been spayed (have had an ovariohysterectomy). The condition occurs when an unchecked infection in the uterus begins to flourish in the warm, moist environment and infects the fallopian tubes and ovaries. Pus fills up the uterus and if unable to drain, begins to leak into the body. Signs usually begin as lack of energy (lethargy), loss of appetite, sometimes abdominal pain, trouble urinating. Left untreated, death can result in just a couple days.

QID – Four times per day.

Re-check Exam – A brief exam mainly to just follow-up an issue that is being currently treated (i.e. ears, eyes, skin infection, new medication administration, etc.).

Rectally – via the rectum (anal opening).

Renal – having to do with the kidneys.

Renal Failure – loss of function of the kidneys.

Ringworm – Commonly mistaken as an actual “worm”, ringworm is actually a fungus and not a parasite, which burrows into the skin. It is highly contagious and transferrable to humans. It requires treatment via a prescription from your veterinarian. Usually presents itself in pets as small circles of hair loss with irritated looking skin at the base.

Rx – Prescription.

Sedation – This is a drug induced state of calmness that can be mild, moderate or severe (see General Anaesthesia). Sedation drugs are mainly administered via injection or intravenous and sometimes via face mask. Usually used for keeping an animal still while performing non-major treatments or surgeries.

SID – Once per day.

Skin Scraping – This multi-step procedure involves obtaining a small tissue sample of various layers deep. A veterinarian uses a scalpel blade to scrape (not cut) the affected tissue and place it in oil on a slide for microscopic viewing. A further step of this process involves obtaining a smear on a sterile swab which is packaged in a special tube or solution and sent to a laboratory for diagnosis. Most skin scrapings are typically used for determining types of mange ( Demodex or Sarcopties), as well as types of bacteria living within the tissue.

Steroids – In veterinary medicine, most of the steroids used are corticosteroids. This family of steroid are synthesized laboratory hormones that mimic those produced by the adrenal cortex. They are generally used to treat and regulate various inflammations and inflammatory responses in the body by reducing the immune suppression of the body. Many steroids have the side effect of making pets eat and drink more, and thus increased urination.

Stomach torsion/bloat – A serious condition that occurs mainly in deep-chested dog breeds. This is a condition where the stomach has rolled over on itself preventing gastric gasses from escaping. The stomach continues to fill with gasses and swell, resulting in the cutting off of blood supply to the affected areas. This usually happens after the dog has played too hard, rolling around on its’ side of completely rolled over. This condition shows up quickly, presenting first with signs of pain, followed by an increased abdomen size, lethargy, reluctance to get up and move about. If not treated within the first hour, extreme pain and shock set in as blood flow to the constricted tissues begin to cause organ failure. Another hour beyond that results in the death of the animal. There are no non-medical treatments for this condition once the stomach has flipped. Surgery needs to be commenced within 90 minutes of the initial onset, or the animal be euthanized.

Struvites (crystals) and Stones (Bladder/Kidney) – Chemicals in the urine start to form crystals. Clumps of crystals can form together into lumps called Urolithetor Calculi. These can be found in the bladder, kidneys or urethra. Crystals and stones irritate the lining of these organs and cause damage which gets inflamed, then infection appears. A serious issue develops when a stone gets trapped in the urethra (especially in male cats) jamming it closed and urine continues to build up in the bladder like an overinflated balloon. Severe pain develops within hours, then without medical treatment, death will result as the bladder begins leaking urine into the abdominal cavity.

Surgical Pack Preparation – All surgeries require at least one surgical pack and may require several. Surgical packs are groups of surgical instruments that are specific to the type of surgery being performed. Common examples are spay packs (the term given to a complete pack of instruments used in the spaying of an animal and various & bone packs (consisting of specialized instruments and tools used in the repair of fractures, breaks, cruciate ligament repairs, hip surgeries, and other bone related issues). Spay packs and retractor sets are also commonly used in laparotomies (exploration of the abdominal cavity) as well as foreign body removal. Several packs are used when removing a foreign body from the colon as the instruments are contaminated once the intensives have been opened. Each instrument can only be used once and discarded off the surgical suite and the new sterile instruments are used for each step.

Surgical pack instruments are all individually cleaned and specially packed into kits which are then autoclaved for the next surgery. An autoclave is a machine that heats up the instruments wrapped securely in the pack to a temperature of approximately 285 F for a set period of time. This high temperature forces steam into the packs which sterilizes the instruments. After the set time under high pressure, the packs are dried to remove any traces of moisture that may trigger bacterial growth and are ready for use. Indicator strips placed in the packs signify whether or not the pack reached the proper temperature and pressure. If not, the pack is discarded and another must be used. This time-consuming process is done several times per day depending on how many surgeries are performed and how many packs were used.

Surgical Pack Prep Fee – This is a fee applied to many surgeries to cover the cost of preparing the required surgical pack(s) needed for a particular surgery. Many common or routine surgeries have this fee already built into the cost of the surgery and in this case, it will not show up on your bill.

Technical Assist – This is a fee applied to most major surgeries to cover the cost of additional technical or veterinary personnel in the undertaking of the surgery. All surgeries have one veterinary technician who monitors the patient’s vitals, and an assistant who preps the surgical suite (surgical packs, bedding on the operating table, moves the IV poles to and from surgery, etc.) but larger, more invasive surgeries require additional trained staff to scrub in and gown up to assist in the actual surgery. This fee covers their time as they will be unable to work elsewhere in the clinic or other surgeries until they are relieved and the patient fully recovered.

TID – Three times per day (morning, early afternoon and evening).

Toxic – meaning noxious or poisonous in certain doses.

Tumours – A tumour is any growth that is defined as neoplastic (meaning abnormal) in size, shape, colour or form. There are three types of tumours, 1) Benign – meaning a harmless growth, and 2) Pre-malignant – a pre-cancerous type of growth, and that many easily become malignant, and 3) Malignant – a definite cancerous growth. Fine Needle Aspirates (FNA) and Biopsies are usually used to determine the makeup of a tissue in a mass for identification. (see their definitions).

Tx. – Treatment.

“Units” of Time – A unit refers to a specific amount of “time” usually for surgical or anaesthetic purposes. Most clinics use 10 minute segments. Thus a surgery that will take the surgeon 30 minutes to perform will require 3 units of surgical time, plus 3 units of anaesthetic time that your pet will be under anaesthesia. These times will match in almost all cases.

Urinalysis – This is a medical test where urine is analysed for specific gravity (to measure dilution) and under a microscope or urine test strip to look for bacteria, blood cells, crystals (struvites )  specific gravity (pH concentration), and glucose. Urine is either collected by “free catch” (involving catching urine manually in a sanitary container as it passes naturally from your pet) or via cystocentiis which involves inserting a long hypodermic needle into the bladder through the abdominal wall and collecting a “pristine” sterile sample free of any contaminates such as hair, debris, dirt that may affect the sample’s integrity.

Vaccine Protocol – For puppies and kittens the general rule for proper vaccine administration is 1st vaccine at 7-8 weeks, 2nd booster 4 weeks later (at 11-12 weeks of age) and the final booster at 15-16 weeks of age (again, 4 weeks after the 2nd booster). If the pet is already over 3 months of age, most veterinarians will just do two vaccines instead of three. The 2nd booster will need to be done 3-4 weeks after the first.

Some vaccines are only guaranteed by the manufacturer to be effective for 1 year (these include Leptospirosa, Bordetella (kennel cough), feline Leukemia, feline Rabies and feline FVRCP. These need to be discussed with your veterinarian and decided upon based on your pets age and lifestyle – which will dictate his/her risk level ( for example : is your cat an outdoor cat, or does live exclusively indoors ?, does your dog play with other dogs, or is an indoor couch potato?, will it need to be boarded at a kennel facility?)

Vaccines that are classed as a Three Year Vaccine are only effective after they have been given two consecutive years in a row to a previously unvaccinated dog. Thus, a new puppy would have a Rabies vaccine in its first and second year then not again for three years. Older dogs that have had several Rabies boosters in their life will be able to go to a three year schedule even if their last Rabies vaccines were not two consecutive years in a row.

As your pet ages, vaccines should be given less frequently, and only the essential ones (such as Bordetella, which protects against the kennel cough virus. This primarily airborne virus is also passed through communal water bowls at dog parks, dog daycare facilities and out in front of stores that put water out for pets in the heat of summer).



Rabies– A deadly viral infection, Rabies has no cure. It is transmitted through saliva, via a bite wound, from an infected carrier (bats, groundhogs, foxes, etc.) In most countries, a Rabies vaccine is a legal requirement for all dogs and cats (due to the ability of it being transferred to humans)

Distemper- A highly contagious virus, it produces severe health issues in puppies (including death). Presents with discharge from the eyes and nose, coughing, fever, lethargy and sometimes loss of appetite.

Hepatitis A virus that attacks the hepatic system (liver) and creates changes in the blood.

Adenovirus A virus that predominately infects the upper respiratory system.

Leptospirosa – A contagious virus that damages the kidneys and liver and other major organs. It is passed in the urine of infected animals (other dogs, racoons, skunks, foxes, etc.) that have urinated in standing water where your pet may drink from, as well as standing water in fields, parks, swamps and marshes. It is also transferrable to humans who come in contact with your pets infected urine.

Bordetella- An airborne flu virus similar to the flu in humans. Very contagious, can also be spread via direct snout contact and drinking from contaminated water bowls (such as communal bowls at dog parks, etc.)  Depending on the strain, and if you have a very young, or senior dog the illness can be very serious. Causes an inflamed respiratory system & congested lungs. Presents with a hacking cough and weepy discharge from the eyes and nose.

Lyme- A bacterial virus transmitted via bites from infected ticks. Causes inflammation of the joints, lethargy, and if not diagnosed soon enough, causes kidney failure in many cases. If caught early enough, it can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Prevention is the best course of action – to have your pet not bit in the first place by using a repellent to keep the ticks off your pet.

Parvovirus- A highly contagious virus that attacks the intestines. Most serious in puppies (especially between their first sets of vaccines before they build up antibodies) Causes profuse diarrhea, then the addition of extreme abdominal pain, lack of appetite and severe dehydration from loss of fluids. If not treated quickly (within 24 hours of onset) it is usually fatal. With quick treatment, survival rates are usually over 80%. Once your pet has reached 2 years of age plus, the risk of contracting parvo is much less, as is the health consequences.


Leukemia – A virus that attacks the immune system. It is transferred through infected saliva, urine and feces (commonly from stray cats roaming about).  Once it affects the immune system, your cat is highly vulnerable to any illnesses going around and they can rapidly become serious as your pet cannot fight them off in its’ compromised state.

Distemper- Also known as panleukopenia, this is the feline version of the parvovirus. Highly contagious, can be fatal if not treated quickly. Presents as sudden onset of vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Virus can live in the environment for an extended period of time thus proper sterilizing of your home is necessary to prevent other cats from contracting the same.

Upper Respiratory Disease – A highly contagious disease primarily caused by the rhinotracheitis virus and the calicivirus. Can cause serious respiratory issues. Presents with runny nose, discharge from the eyes, fever, a lack of appetite and occasionally may produce ulcers in the mouth.

Virus – an infectious organism that is smaller than bacteria. It is unable to thrive (reproduce) outside of the host cell.

Zoonotic – Defines something that is transferable trans-species to humans. Includes such viruses and conditions as: rabies, tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm, leptospirosa, and ringworm.

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