Below are some terms you may come across in your veterinary adventures. Use the definitions below to help understand your animal’s issue, but never be shy about asking the veterinarian for further explanation about any term or phrase you would like explained.
acute renal failure
The animal’s kidneys no longer function.
Also known as: ARF
A refusal to eat or decline in appetite. In animals, often a signal of an underlying medical condition.
In guinea pigs, the feet can become red, swollen, overgrown, or have sores. In very severe cases, amputation may be required, so quick treatment is recommended.
The simplest preventative is to keep the guinea pig in a smooth-bottomed cage, instead of a wire-bottomed cage, and to keep the environment clean and dry. In cases that have gone beyond the basic remedies, the feet may have to be cleaned and treated and medications prescribed.
Also known as: pododermatitis
The part of the animal toward the tail, or cauda. The region toward the head is called the “cranial” region.
In lower vertebrates, turtles, birds, a tube used to pass body fluids include excrement and reproductive matter.
A “cruciate injury” refers to damage to ligaments in the knee, often apparent from limping or refusal to walk on the leg. Treatment, up to surgery, is required to prevent long-term damage.
Also known as: ruptured cruciate
Appears when the animal has had pressure applied to a specific point for too long – a skin or tissue is lost and a sore appears.
Also known as: bedsore
Diabetes occurs when the body lacks sufficient insulin (Type 1) or does not respond properly to the insulin present (Type 2). As a result, the body cannot convert glucose to energy for use by the organs and muscles. Diet and exercise are part of the treatment, but some animals will need insulin.
A phenomenon that occurs when a body part or muscle grows in a way that is not expected, or that is defective.
Eye infections have many causes, from foreign objects in the eye, to allergies, to conjunctivitis. Eyes appear red, or swollen, or watery. Get help as soon as possible, since permanent eye damage can occur.
epizootic catarrhal enteristis
In ferrets, this viral disease attacks the intestinal lining, so that the animal cannot absorb or digest food.
Symptoms include watery greenish diarrhea, black stools, weakness, or weight loss. ECE is treated with medication and possible changes to diet.
Also known as: ECE
In fish, fungal infections can attack several body systems, including the brain, liver, and kidney. Treatment varies but may include medicating the fish’s water or adjusting salt, calcium, and electrolyte levels, or even raising the tank’s temperature.
The Saprolegnia fungus appears as cottony growths on the fish, light grey in color. The fungus appears when dead and decaying organic matter is present in the environment.
The Ichthyophonus hoferi fungus is less common, and symptoms vary by fish species. All fish show small growths, black in color. It is most often caused by infected raw food.
Glucose appears in the animal’s urine.
Heartworm develops when an animal is bitten by an infected mosquito and acquires the parasite Dirofilaria immitis. Prevention offers the best approach, and medications are readily available to prevent heartworm.
Symptoms vary based on the species involved, and can include anything from coughing to weight loss and lethargy. Once established, heartworm can be difficult to diagnose or treat, depending on the species.
The science devoted to understanding how body tissue behaves.
When an animal is immune from a disease, they are cannot contract that disease. It’s important to know that if a vaccine fails or the animal does not react properly to the vaccine, the animal is not protected against the disease. A vaccination must succeed to product immunity.
inflammatory airway disease
In horses, inflammatory airway disease appears as a loss of energy or performance, along with nasal discharge, mucus in the airway, and coughing. No one knows exactly what causes this respiratory condition, but horses of all types can get it. There seems to be a correlation between horses that spend large amounts of time in dusty stables and the presence of the disease. Antibiotics typically clear the disease.
Also known as: IAD
low passage vaccine
A low passage vaccine is used on young animals. Vaccines are biological products that contain microorganisms designed to prevent animals from contracting the disease contained in the vaccine. In the low passage vaccine, the disease organism in the vaccine has been less weakened than that used in a “normal” vaccine, which may work more effectively with young animals.
In fish, lymphocystis is a viral disease that attacks both freshwater and saltwater fish, creating growths that resemble cauliflower. Sometimes medication is prescribed, but often no steps are taken because the disease does not harm the fish, and the medicine may not be effective.
Mange is caused by mites and occurs in dogs and cats. Animals may show patches where lesions occur. If more generalized, manage can be identified by red skin, loss of coat, or lesions and scales.
Also known as: demodicosis
metabolic bone disease
In reptiles, metabolic bone disease occurs when animals do not have the proper balance of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorous. The disease appears most often in reptiles fed only plants and insects. Reptiles that eat whole prey typically do not suffer from the problem.
Symptoms can include a soft lower jaw, limping, lumps on the jaw, legs, or spinal column, or bowed legs. Treatment can range from changes in diet to supplements.
Also known as: nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism
Membrane, such as those of the mouth and nose, that covers body cavities or passages that are exposed to the air. These specialized membranes often provide diagnostic signs – for example, dryness can indicate dehydration, while yellowing may indicate liver problems.
Also known as: mucous membranes
Hardening of the kidneys.
This canine viral disease spreads most often through contact with an infected fog or through an infected dog’s feces. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and significant weight loss. Young canines are especially vulnerable to catching it and are more likely to die from it. Some breeds are similarly susceptible, including Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and English Springer Spaniels.
Also known as: canine parvovirus, CPV
Pet insurance provides coverage for cats and dogs. Most companies cover only cats and dogs, but one company is available to cover exotics. Pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions. You may have to choose from a network of providers.
Also known as: pet health insurance
Inflammation of the membranes lining the inside of the lungs.
Can be fatal and can pass to and infect humans. A disease transmitted by virus spread by saliva from infected animals.
In sheep breeding, a ram is marked with colors on its chest- known as a raddle. These colors transfer to the ewe during mating, making it easy to determine which animals have mated.
In hamsters, watery diarrhea and pain mark this bacterial infection. The hamster may also have not want to eat or show a hunched posture. The disease is highly contagious, since spores disperse throughout the environment. Treatment includes antibiotics and possibly supplements.
Also known as: Clostridium piliforme
urinary tract infections
This disease of the bladder and urethra does not have a known cause. Sufferers may have blood in the urine, painful urination, frequent urination, or blocked urine flow. They may also urinate in unusual places. Treatment can be a simple as changing to a moist food diet or as complex as surgery for a blocked urethra.
Also known as: Idiopathic Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (IFLUFD), Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), Interstitial Cystitis, Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS)
A biological substance introduced to make the animal resistant to a specific disease. The vaccine often includes substances that are or are similar to the microorganism that actually causes the disease.
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The vital signs are temperature, respiration, and pulse; they indicate whether life is present or not.