Veterinary Abbreviations (Vet Tech Language)

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Veterinary Abbreviations are all about the funny (and not so funny) abbreviation terms veterinary professionals use when writing down information on patients’ charts or other documents at work.

bar veterinary abbreviations
Veterinary Abbreviations (Vet Tech Language) I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students

We’re going to list them here for you so it’s easy to understand how these little symbols can be helpful day-to-day while working with animals of all shapes and sizes!

Veterinary Abbreviations

If you’ve ever spent time in a veterinary clinic, you may have seen abbreviations on charts or paperwork. You might not know what they mean, but don’t worry!

We’re here to help. This blog post will tell you everything about bar abbreviations for veterinary terms and procedures that are used in our hospitals and clinics.

Vet Tech Language and Bar Veterinary Abbreviations – an Infographic

infographic on bar veterinary abbreviations
Veterinary Abbreviations (Vet Tech Language) I Love Veterinary - Blog for Veterinarians, Vet Techs, Students


hx – History
tx – Treatment
sx – Surgery
ROBO – Rolled Over By Owner
BAR – Bright, Alert, Responsive
WNL – Within Normal Limits
NSF – No Significant Findings
ADR – Ain’t Doin’ Right
HBC – Hit By Car
NPO – Nothing Per Os
ART – Achieving Room Temp
HWT – Heartworm Test
HWPHeartworm Prevention
N/C – New Client or No Charge
TGH – To Go Home
RTG – Ready To Go
DMITO – Dog More Intelligent Than Owner
OWB – (Written on patient’s records) Owner Will Bite
WPWW – Will Poop Without Warning
TTJ– Transfer To Jesus
Princess or Precious = SOS or Spawn of Satan

dog with tiara

SBI– Something Bad Inside
Sunshine Club – Difficult Clients
M.A.I – Money An Issue
AG – Anal Gland Expression
TNT – Nail Trim
Snow White – а female client with LOTS of small children with her.

Common Veterinary Procedural Terms

Abeceps – A vaccinosis resultant from the body’s extreme reaction to an inoculation.

Anastomosis – An intentional joining of two normally separate tubular structures for therapeutic gain, e.g., gastrojejunostomy.

Anesthesia, general – The controlled state during which a patient is unable to sense or respond to painful stimuli.

Anesthesia, local – The controlled state during which a patient is partly insensitive to pain and other sensory stimuli.

Antivenin – A preparation of antibodies against a particular venom used for neutralizing it in the body.

Anuria – Absence of urine flow.

Bar bar bar – Rodenticide product containing warfarin sodium.

Basophil – White blood cell with granules that stain blue when treated with Romanowsky stains; involved in allergy reactions, graft rejection, and some types of anemia.

Biopsy – Removal of tissue for laboratory examination.

Blood: Plasma: Serum ratio – The ratio in which plasma and serum is separated from whole blood in a centrifuge; indices based on this separation are used to determine the concentration of protein in the circulatory system.

Cage Reject – A rodenticide that has been used so often it can no longer be safely used.

Carter-Harrison – a combination of chlorophacinone and pyridylmethanol.

Caruncle – The small fleshy protuberances on the inner corner of the eyelids; sometimes refer to the third eyelid.

Catalepsy – An abnormal state caused by damage to the brain or nervous system, characterized by muscular rigidity and loss of awareness.

Caudal – Pertaining to the tail end of an animal body.

Chloroform – An organic solvent used as a general anesthetic. When mixed with oxygen, it becomes phosgene (carbonyl chloride), which is poisonous to living tissue.

Cholinesterase – An enzyme that prevents the accumulation of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. It has been used as an antidote for poisoning with organophosphate pesticides and nerve gases such as Sarin.

Chronic – A progressive but slow disease resulting from a long-term irritation or change in body chemistry or structure; often refers to infectious diseases that have become well-established over time, e.g., chronic pneumonia usually implies invasion by fungi or parasites rather than bacteria.

Cleft Palate – Congenital condition where the roof of the mouth fails to close completely, leaving a gap through which nasal fluids can pass. Also called a gap in the palate.

Clostridium novyi – A bacterial genus that includes C. perfringens type C and D, which produce gas gangrene in rodents.

Coenuriasis – Infection with coenurus cerebralis, a parasitic nematode of the central nervous system caused by Toxocara canis or Toxascaris leonina.

Contagious Coryza – A respiratory disease common in poultry, caused by Mycoplasma gallisepticum; also called infectious sinusitis.

Dacryocystitis – Inflammation of the tear sac at the corner of the eye near the nose due to blockage or infection; usually accompanied by swelling of the third eyelid.

Dicrocoeliasis – Infection with Dicrocoelium dendriticum, a parasitic fluke of the liver.

Distemper – A highly contagious viral disease affecting most species of nonhuman and human primates; characterized by fever and discharges from mucous membranes and eyes.

Commonly called hardpad in rabbits.

Ectoparasite – A parasite that lives on the outer surface or skin of an animal; refers to mites and ticks as well as fleas.

Enteritis – Inflammation of the small intestine.

Epizoology – The study of diseases that may affect populations (animal, plant, or other) as opposed to individuals.

Estrus – The period when a female mammal is receptive to mating; usually refers to the sexual receptivity of female rodents and bitches (female dogs).

Euthyroid – Having normal thyroid gland function, including circulating hormone levels within an acceptable range.

Familial Disease – A disease caused by a genetic defect that can be passed from one generation to another in an affected family line.

Fibrillation – Short-lived and uncoordinated twitching or contracting in place of normal muscular movement or rigidity; often seen in heart muscle after giving barbiturates such as phenobarbital. FIP = feline infectious peritonitis [An inflammatory disease of cats] also called eruptive peritonitis.

Fluid Therapy – The administration of intravenous fluids, usually to replace lost body fluids.

Fomite – An inanimate object that may serve as a vector for infectious disease; e.g., contaminated cage equipment or waste receptacles, dirty surgical instruments, hospital laundry, bedding, food bowls.

Formaldehyde – A chemical disinfectant usually used at low concentrations (0.25%) as household bleach; lethal to most viruses and bacteria but does not kill the spores of C. difficile.

Forced Feeding – A technique used to feed animals who are unwilling or unable to eat by using an enteral feeding tube passed through the animal’s nose into the stomach.

Fungal granuloma – A chronic fungal infection of the skin which appears as a distinct swelling.

Fungemia – Presence in the blood of fungi or components of fungi, either by direct invasion through injured walls of small vessels or when fungi are transported by leukocytes.

Furunculosis – Infection with Staphylococcus aureus in rabbits resulting in abscesses at multiple locations especially behind the ears and around the tail; commonly called “sore hocks.”

Ganglioneuritis – Inflammation affecting neurons and ganglia (nerve cells involved in sensation, coordination, brain function), e.g., bacterial infections of nervous tissue like Pasteurella multocida, T. gondii, Encephalitozoon cuniculi.

Gangrene – Death of tissue usually due to lack of blood supply (ischemia). Necrotic tissue is dry and dark; causes include hypothermia or barbiturate poisoning.

Gastritis – Inflammation of the stomach mucosa.

Glomerulonephritis – A chronic inflammation of the structures in which filtration occurs in the kidneys, usually caused by a hypersensitivity reaction but may follow bacterial infections such as leptospirosis.

Hapten-carrier complex – Chemical compounds which carry antigens on their surface and serve as the antigen receptor for antibody production after exposure to the antigen; i.e., carrier proteins like toxoids (inactivated toxins), subunits of toxins, or incomplete Freund’s adjuvant (IFA).

Hematoma – A localized accumulation of blood in tissues that manifests as a swelling. May be due to trauma or coagulopathies.

Keratitis – Inflammation of the cornea usually caused by bacterial or viral infections but may follow barbiturate overdoses that damage endothelial cells (layers lining vessels) to allow fluid leakage into surrounding tissues.

Lamina propria – A layer between epithelial tissue and connective tissue which contains lymphatic tissue, lymph vessels, nerves, and capillaries.

This is where immune responses in the oral cavity are initiated.

Laxatives – A compound that stimulates intestinal activity, e.g., barium sulfate suspension [white liquid barium] given orally to detect gastrointestinal obstruction by X-ray or barium enema [rectal barium] to outline colon by X-ray.

LCSALP – Abbreviation for “lateral recumbency, sternal position,” i.e., an animal is placed on its side and resting on the sternum (chest).

Leukocytes – White blood cells of various types and functions which defend against infectious agents and remove foreign matter from the body; agranulocytosis = lack of white blood cells called neutrophils which usually occurs when an animal receives barbiturate anesthesia.

Lipemia – Presence of abnormal amounts of lipids (fats) in the blood serum.

Malabsorption syndrome – Decreased ability to absorb nutrients due to lack of pancreatic enzymes, irritation, and inflammation of intestinal mucosa, or parasite infestation; may cause weight loss and diarrhea.

May be characterized by “spillage” into the colon where bacterial fermentation causes gas formation leading to bloating, pain, and flatulence. Use antibiotics cautiously as they may increase gas formation from rapid bacterial growth from unabsorbed food passing through the intestine before toxins are removed by the liver filtration system.

Also called “ileal dysfunction.”

Mediastinitis – Inflammation of the connective tissue and organs between two pleural membranes in the chest; often due to barbiturate poisoning.

Meningitis – Inflammation of the brain or spinal cord usually caused by bacterial or viral infections but may follow barbiturate overdose that damages endothelial cells (layers lining vessels) to allow fluid leakage into surrounding tissues.

Metritis – An inflammation of uterine mucosa; causes include barbiturate poisoning, Pasteurella multocida, Actinomyces pyogenes, and other infectious agents.

Mitral valve insufficiency = Mitral regurgitation = “leaking” of blood back into the atrium when ventricle contracts because the mitral valve is not closing properly.

Monocytes – White blood cells called macrophages which engulf foreign substances and certain microorganisms; they process these materials for presentation to lymphocytes.

Mucolytic – A compound that acts to thin mucus secretions, making it more liquid or less viscid.

Multinucleated giant cell – An unusual type of white blood cell containing more than one nucleus in its cytoplasm; often seen with barbiturate poisoning.

Myelography = myelogram = barium contrast study of the spinal cord via injection into subarachnoid space (fluid-filled spaces in tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord) followed by X-ray picture after barium has spread into the spinal cord. Also called “myelogram.”

May cause barbiturate poisoning if the animal is given barium instead of water orally while under anesthesia.

Myocarditis – Inflammation of heart muscle often due to barbiturate poisoning, bacterial or viral infections, or degenerative conditions; causes include rickettsiosis, leptospirosis.

Symptoms may be manifested by anorexia (loss of appetite), depression, weakness, coughing, and distended jugular veins in the neck due to low blood pressure (hypotension).

Necrosis – Injury or death of body cells that can lead to local destruction of nearby tissue; typically caused by infectious agents but barbiturate poisoning can also result in necrosis of tissues, especially liver.

Osteitis – Inflammation of bone caused by barbiturate poisoning or bacterial infections such as leptospirosis, Pasteurella multocida, Actinomyces pyogenes, or fungal agents.

Papillomas – Benign tumors containing finger-like projections on the surface which are due to viral infection; often seen in carrier animals and can multiply rapidly if the animal is pregnant because the virus is passed transplacentally causing birth defects in offspring.

Also called “warts” or “condylomata.”

Pericarditis – Inflammation of the fibrous sac surrounding the heart is often due to barbiturate poisoning but may occur secondary to Lyme disease, angioedema, pasteurellosis.

Pleural effusion – Collection of fluid in the pleural space between lungs and chest wall; may be due to barbiturate poisoning or cancer of the lung, liver, heart, stomach, kidney, or other organs.

Pneumonia – Inflammation of a lobe of lung tissue is often caused by barbiturate poisoning but also frequently results from bacterial infections such as Pasteurella multocida and Actinomyces pyogenes.

Symptoms include labored breathing (dyspnea), open mouth breathing (stertorous respirations), coughing up blood-tinged sputum (hemoptysis), tenderness over the affected area on thorax felt through the chest wall, rapid heart rate (tachycardia).

Pododermatitis – Inflammation of the skin of the feet is often secondary to barbiturate poisoning but also caused by bacterial or fungal infections. Symptoms include anorexia (loss of appetite), reluctance to walk on hard surfaces, swollen toes, redness, and inflammation of the affected area.

Polyarthritis/Polyarthralgia – inflammation in multiple joints at once; can be due to barbiturate toxicity, Lyme disease, bacteria such as Campylobacter fetus subsp. venerealis or Pasteurella multocida, or viral agents.

Symptoms include stiffness when the animal is walking which may progress into anorexia (loss of appetite) and reluctance to walk on hard surfaces, swollen joints (inflammation of multiple joints at once), redness, and inflammation of the affected area.

Toxicity = poisoning; barbiturate toxicity is the ingestion of barbiturate-class drugs or barium salts which interfere with normal brain and nervous system function causing depression, twitching, coma.

Symptoms include dilated pupils (mydriasis), difficulty moving eyes up/down/side to side (nystagmus), rapid weak pulse (tachycardia), rapid breathing rate (tachypnea).

Tremors – Involuntary shaking or shivering caused by barbiturate toxicity which can be seen in all four legs at the same time or just certain limbs being affected.

Trichocephalosis – Infection of skin or mucous membranes with Trichophyton. Symptoms include low body temperature, shock, respiratory problems, anorexia (loss of appetite), depression, blood-tinged fluid in the abdominal cavity due to a ruptured bladder.

If you liked this article, read “Vet Tech Appreciation Week” on our blog.

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