What the heck does that mean? Find out what your vet is talking about

Oct 6, 2021 | Pet Owners

Before you go in for your pet’s next veterinary appointment, check out these terms that a veterinary professional might use and what they mean.


  • Brachycephalic — Greek for “short head”, refers to dogs with a “smooshed” face, such as pugs, Shih Tzus, or bulldogs
  • Carpus —wrist
  • Dewclaw — the extra digit on the upper, inner part of a paw
  • Hock —ankles
  • Pinna — external flap of the ear
  • Stifle — knees
  • Thorax — chest


  • Acute — an illness or condition that lasts for a short period of time
  • Ataxia — abnormal gait while running or walking
  • Benign — a condition or tumor/growth that is not cancerous
  • Cestodes — tapeworms
  • Chronic — an illness that is persisting for a long time
  • Congenital — a disease or condition that has been present since birth
  • Gestation — period of time an animal is pregnant (from conception to birth)
  • Incontinence — inability to control urination or defecation
  • Lethargy — unusual lack of energy (acting tired)
  • Malignant — cancerous tumors that tend to grow rapidly and can also spread to other parts of the body
  • Neoplasm — an abnormal growth of cells or tissues that can be benign or malignant
  • Pathogen — a bacteria or virus that can cause disease
  • Pica — an appetite for non-nutritional substances like paper, hair, or dirt
  • Septic, sepsis — refers to the body’s extreme response to an infection
  • Zoonoses, zoonotic — diseases that animals can pass to humans


  • Antiseptic — a substance applied to get rid of germs such as bacteria
  • dDx — differential diagnosis, which is a list of potential diagnoses that your pet may have, which are then narrowed down to determine the diagnosis
  • Dx — diagnosis, which is what the doctor thinks is going on with your pet
  • qX — every X amount of hours, for example “q8” is every 8 hours
  • Radiograph — X-ray image
  • Rx — prescriptions
  • SID/BID/TID/QID: once/twice/three times/four times a day
  • Sx — surgery
  • Tx — treatment or therapy, the recommended plan to heal your pet or maintain your pet’s health
  • UA — urinalysis, a laboratory test that uses a urine sample

Now that you’re familiar with these veterinary terms, you’ll be more prepared to communicate with veterinarians and better understand your pet’s health.

Related Post

5 tips for a stress-free holiday for you and your pet

5 tips for a stress-free holiday for you and your pet

Help the holiday season go a little more smoothly with shopping advice, tips for snowbirds, and more. 1. Plan ahead Shipping carriers and retailers across the country are again expecting record demand during the holiday season. To allow for potential delays, consider...

4 min read

Pet poop: things to know

Cat, dog, or human — as different as we are, we all have one thing in common: we poop. Pet waste isn’t the most pleasant topic, but we can learn quite a bit from our pet’s bathroom habits. Here’s the scoop on pet poop. The color of your pet’s poop indicates their...

6 min read

What you need to know about pet cancer

National Pet Cancer Awareness Month is in November, and you can observe this month by learning more about this disease in pets. Unfortunately, cancer is common in both cats and dogs and it can affect them the way it affects humans. Despite this, technological advances...

6 min read

Connect with us

Our Prescription Management, Client Engagement, and Data & Insights solutions have made a difference for thousands of pet healthcare businesses. Find out how Vetsource can make a difference for you.