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Basic Vet Abbreviations for Pet Owners to Know

When you're taking Fifi to the veterinarian for a check-up or because something is wrong, her chart can look like an intricate crossword puzzle. To make sense out of the "AS" and "Fel" veterinary abbreviations you see, learn a few basic vet abbreviations pet owners might encounter. To keep it simple, the list is broken down by what they might be used for, including treatment, symptoms, diagnostics and diseases.

Vet checking dog's teethVet checking dog's teeth

Animal & Body Location Abbreviations

Sometimes veterinary abbreviations can be as simple as using the first few letters of a word. However, since this is a medical specialty, veterinarians might need to get creative to differentiate Duke’s left ear from his right. For example, "AD" is the Latin abbreviation for "auris dextra" (or right ear), while "AS" is short for "auris sinistra" in Latin (or left ear).

Explore other common animal and body location abbreviations vets use. 

  • Abd - Abdomen

  • AD - Right ear

  • AP - Anterior-posterior

  • AS - Left ear

  • AU - Both ears

  • BDLD - Big dog/little dog

  • DLH - Domestic long-haired cat

  • DMH - Domestic medium-haired cat

  • DSH - Domestic short-haired cat

  • Fel - Feline

  • F/S - Spayed female

  • K9 - Canine

  • M/N - Neutered male

  • OD - Right eye

  • OS - Left eye

  • OU - Both eyes

Diagnostic Abbreviations

Your little Patches might have been hit by a car or possibly just isn’t acting right. When the vet looks at her, several diagnostic tests will be completed. When you look at her digital chart, you might see medical and vet diagnostic abbreviations that include: 

  • BP - Blood pressure

  • BPM - Beats or breaths per minute

  • Bx - Biopsy

  • CBC - Complete blood count

  • CHF - Congestive heart failure

  • CT Scan - Computed tomography

  • CXR - Chest X-ray (radiograph)

  • DDX - Differential diagnosis

  • DFW - Dog fight wounds

  • Dx - Diagnosis

  • ECG or EKG - Electrocardiogram

  • EEG - Electroencephalogram

  • EENT -  Eyes, ears, nose and throat

  • FAD - Flea allergy dermatitis

  • FBS - Fasting blood sugar

  • FNA - Fine needle aspirate

  • Fx - Fracture

  • HCT - Hematocrit

  • Hx - History

  • Inj - Injection

  • NAF - No abnormal findings

  • MRI - Magnetic resonance imaging

  • NSF - No significant findings

  • PCV - Packed cell volume

  • RR - Respiratory rate

  • Sx - Surgery

  • TPR - Temperature, pulse and respiration rate

  • UA - Urinalysis

  • US - Ultrasound

  • WNL - Within normal limits

Condition & Disease Abbreviations

Like humans, animals might face a number of conditions or diseases in their lifetime. These might be acute conditions that are treated quickly or long-term diseases that require constant treatment. To understand what disease your dog or cat might have, check out this list of basic animal conditions. 

  • AF - Atrial fibrillation

  • ANS - Autonomic nervous system

  • ARF - Acute renal failure

  • BPH - Benign prostatic hypertrophy

  • CD - Canine distemper

  • CHF - Congestive heart failure

  • CPV - Canine parvovirus

  • CNS - Central nervous system

  • COPD - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • CRF - Chronic renal failure

  • CV - Cardiovascular

  • DDD - Degenerative disc disease

  • DJD - Degenerative joint disease

  • Felv - Feline leukemia virus

  • FIA - Feline infectious anemia

  • FIP - Feline infectious peritonitis

  • FIV - Feline immunodeficiency virus

  • HD - Hip dysplasia

  • HW - Heartworm

  • Sz - Seizure

  • URI - Upper respiratory infection

  • UTI - Urinary tract infection

Symptom Abbreviations

Typically what takes you to the vet is when you notice that Mystic just isn’t acting right. Upon calling you back into the office, your vet will check your furry companion, looking at all her symptoms. The vet might write down "ADR" or "REM." After doing a little investigating, you'll find that ADR means Mystic "ain't doing right." Learn other common symptom abbreviations that vets commonly use.  

  • ACT - Activated clotting time

  • ADR - Ain’t doing right

  • BARH - Bright, alert, responsive and hydrated

  • BAR - Bright alert and responsive

  • BM - Bowel movement

  • BT - Bleeding time

  • CSVD - Coughing, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea

  • CRT - Capillary refill time

  • D - Diarrhea

  • FUO - Fever of unknown origin

  • HBC  - Hit by car

  • HR - Heart rate

  • NVL  - No visible lesions

  • PU/PD  - Polyuric/polydipsic (excessive drinking and urine)

  • QAR – Quiet, alert, responsive

  • REM - Rapid eye movement

  • R/O - Rule out

  • ROM - Range of motion

  • SC - Under the skin

  • V - Vomiting

  • V/D - Vomiting/diarrhea

Treatment Abbreviations

Thankfully, Midnight just has a small infection. When you get sent home with a prescription, you might not realize what "cap" or "QD" mean. Now, you are all kinds of confused! Not to worry. You can get a quick rundown of a few different treatment option abbreviations that include:  

  • Abc or Abx - Antibiotic(s)

  • Ac - Before meals

  • ADH - Antidiuretic hormone, Vasopressin

  • Ad Lib - As desired

  • BID - Twice per day

  • Cap - Capsule

  • CRI - Constant rate infusion

  • D/C - Discontinue

  • EOD - Every other day

  • ED - Every day

  • Fl - Fluid

  • IM - Intramuscular

  • IN - Internasal

  • IV - Intravenous

  • NPO - Nothing by mouth

  • PRN - As needed

  • Q - Every (e.g., q4hrs means every 4 hours)

  • QD - Every day (e.g., every 24 hours)

  • Rx - Prescription

  • S/R - Suture removal

  • TID - Three times daily, every 8 hours

Other Important Veterinary Abbreviations

Vets are busy people. The whole office is. That means that not all vet abbreviations are going to fit in a nice package. A few random abbreviations you might come across in a veterinary medicine that are important include: 

  • AI - Artificial insemination

  • Code/Code Blue - Emergency help

  • COR - Care of remains

  • O - Owner

  • OSI - Owner stopped in

  • OV - Office visit

  • PCFO - Phone call from owner

  • PCTO - Phone call to owner

  • STAT - Immediately

Being a Responsible Pet Owner

You might not think of understanding veterinary abbreviations as being part of a responsible pet owner’s job. However, when Fido is sick, knowing these abbreviations can save you some worry and help you to dissect his treatment. Now that you’ve mastered veterinary abbreviations, you might give nursing abbreviations a try. You'll be surprised to see that many abbreviations in the medical field are similar.

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