Veterinary Terminology



Anthelmintic: A product that kills helminths or worms

Antiseptic: A substance that can be applied to a surface to make it free from germs

Arrhythmia: A heart beat that does not have a normal rhythm

Ascities: An abnormal build up of fluid in the abdomen often causing it to look distended

Ataxia: An abnormal gait when walking or running

Aural: Relating to the ears

Auscultation: The act of listening with a stethoscope


Benign: A word used to describe tumours which do not spread

Bilateral: Meaning on both sides

Biopsy: Taking a small sample for further testing, usually refers to tumours or the skin

Bradycardia: A heart beat that is slower than normal


Cardiac:  Relating to the heart

Cestodes: Another word for tapeworms

Chronic: Used to describe an illness that has been going on for a prolonged period of time

Colitis: Inflammation of the large intestine producing diarrhoea, often with blood

Congenital: A condition that has been present since birth

Cryptorchid: One or both testicles have not descended and are retained in the abdomen

Cystitis: Inflammation of the bladder resulting in discomfort when urinating

Cytology: The study of cells through a microscope


Debride: Removing dead tissue from a wound

Defecation: The act of passing faeces

Diuretics: Drugs used to prevent or reduce water retention in the body

Dyspnoea: Difficulty with breathing

Dystocia: Difficulties in giving birth or whelping


Ectoparasites: Parasites that live on the skin such as fleas, lice and ticks

Endocrine: Relating to hormones

Endoscopy: Using a small light source and sometimes camera to visualise the inside of the stomach, lungs, nasal cavity or colon.

Extra-cranial: Anything outside the skull


Faeces: Solid waste produced from the rectum

Fibrosis: Replacing normal body tissues with scar tissue

FLUTD: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Flystrike:  When blowfly lay larvae on damaged skin which hatch into maggots and cause tissue damage, often extensive


Gastric: relating to the stomach eg. Gastritis is inflammation of the stomach

Gestation: The period of time for which an animal is pregnant

Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums


Haematology: The study of bloods cells

Haematuria: Blood in the urine

Hernia: Abnormal movement of organs or fat through a hole such as the umbilicus

Hormone: A chemical messenger produced by one organ and having an effect on another

Hyper-: Too much or an excess of something eg. Hyperthyroidism is an excess of thyroid hormone

Hypo-: Not enough or a deficit in something eg. Hypoglycaemia is a low blood glucose level

Hypertension: High blood pressure

Hypotension: Low blood pressure


Iatrogenic: caused by the veterinarian

Icterus: Another word for jaundice or yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes

Immune Mediated: A disease process that is caused by the body’s own immune system

Intestine: The intestines refers to the guts from the stomach to the rectum

Intra-cranial: Inside the skull

Intravenous: Into a vein, used to describe routes of administration of drugs


Jugular: The main vein in the body, returning to the heart


Lactation: Producing milk from the mammary glands

Laparotomy: Opening the abdominal cavity

Lateral: On the side eg. lateral recumbancy means lying on the side

Lethargy: Reduction in activity of an animal


Malignant: A word to describe a tumour that is likely to spread to other parts of the body

Mastitis: Inflammation and infection in the mammary glands

MucousMembranes: Moist membranes such as the gums and inside the nose


Nasal: Relating to the nose

Necrosis: Death of tissues eg. necrotic tissue is often found in wounds and abscesses

Neoplasia: Another word for tumours

NSAID: Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatory, a pain relief drug similar to Ibuprofen


Oncology: The study of tumours

Oral: Relating to the mouth

Orchitis: Inflammation of the scrotum

Otitis: Inflammation of the ear canal

Ovariohysterectomy: Removal of the ovaries and uterus as performed in routine neutering


Palpation: Another word for feeling eg. abdominal palpation is feeling the abdomen for abnormal masses.

Palliative: Care aimed at keeping an animal comfortable rather than treating a condition

Paralysis: Loss of use of a part of the body often the limbs

Parasite: An organism that lives off another animal eg. worms living in the intestines

Pathogen: An agent capable of causing disease such as a bacteria or virus

Perineal: Relating to the area around the anus

Peritoneal: Relating to the inside of the abdominal cavity

Pinna: The external flap of the ear

Platelets: Small blood cells responsible for blood clotting

Polydipsia: Excessive thirst

Polyphagia: Excessive hunger

Polyuria: Urinating larger volumes than normal

Probiotic: Bacteria that are beneficial to the health of the intestines

Purulent: Relating to pus eg. purulent discharge is pus like discharge

Pyometra: Infection in the uterus in un-neutered females


Radiograph: The proper term for an x-ray image

Regurgitation: Bringing up food as soon as it has been eaten

Renal: Relating to the kidneys

Respiration: The act of breathing


Sclera: The white part of the eye

Septic: Meaning something is infected

Splenic: Relating to the spleen


Tachycardia: A heart beat that is faster than normal

Thorax: Another word for the chest

Thrombus: A blood clot

Torsion: A twist, sometimes in an organ eg. a gastric torsion is a twisted stomach

Toxin: A poisonous substance capable of causing harm

Trachea: The wind pipe leading from the back of the mouth to the lungs


Unilateral: On one side

Ureter: The tube leading from the kidney to the bladder

Urethra: The tube leading from the bladder to the outside

Urination: The act of passing urine

Uveitis: Inflammation of the back and inside of the eye


Vascular: Relating to the blood vessels

Viscera: Another word for the organs


Zoonoses: Diseases that can be passed from animals to humans

Return to index