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10 veterinary acronyms you never want to see

  • Dr. Kim
  • Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on
    Staff Veterinarian and Pet Health Writer of Petplan


Acronyms have a way of making medical conditions sound a bit more menacing, especially when they are happening with your pet! While it’s true that some illnesses are scary no matter what, being able to decipher the acronyms your veterinarian is using can make the diseases sound a little less frightening.

 

Let’s get right to it - here are ten veterinary acronyms that stand for serious conditions:


  1. GDV = Gastric Dilitation-Volvulus. This mother of all emergencies occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with air and then rotates on its axis, cutting off its blood supply. Without treatment, this condition is quickly fatal.
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  3. IMHA or AIHA = Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia or Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia. These are two names for the same condition. IMHA occurs when the body’s immune system inappropriately attacks its own red blood cells, resulting in anemia. When the red blood cell level drops too low,weakness, lethargy and shortness of breath will occur.
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  5. DIC = Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation. DIC can occur in cats and dogs. It is a secondary condition that results when a primary illness continuously activates blood clotting mechanisms. When this occurs, the conditions are perfect for this blood clotting disorder that occurs inside the blood vessels, resulting in tiny clots that lodge in major organs and cause organ failure. When clotting factors are used up, uncontrolled bleeding can also occur.
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  7. HARD = Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease. As the name suggests, cats develop respiratory disease from immature heartworms. Though the immature heartworms may only live two to three months, symptoms of HARD can persist for up to a year.
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  9. FATE = Feline Aortic Thromboembolism. Cats with underlying heart disease can develop a blood clot that lodges in the aorta at the level of the hind limbs, causing a painful hind limb paralysis. For some owners, the development of this “saddle thrombus” is the first indication that their cat even has heart disease.
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  11. HBC = Hit By Car. Getting hit by a car is a scary thing indeed, whether you’re a cat or a dog. Some pets fare better than others. If you witness a pet getting hit by a car, you should seek veterinary care immediately, even if everything appears to be fine. Life threatening internal injuries may not be obvious from the outside.
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  13. DKA = Diabetic Ketoacidosis. DKA occurs in diabetic patients who have had chronically unregulated blood sugar levels. This may be a new, undiagnosed patient or one who has been receiving the incorrect dose of insulin.
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  15. ARF or CRF = Acute Renal Failure or Chronic Renal Failure. Kidney failure can occur in dogs or cats, but chronic renal failure is more common in senior cats. Over time, kidney function starts to decline, resulting in a host of clinical signs such as decreased appetite, increased thirst and increased urination.
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  17. CHF = Congestive Heart Failure. CHF can occur in cats and dogs. Heart failure results in (among other things) the accumulation of fluid within the lung tissues, which can cause respiratory distress. Part of the therapy for CHF includes medications to pull fluid off of the lungs to make breathing more comfortable.
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  19. SARDS = Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome. Vision loss resulting from retinal degeneration typically occurs quickly (in less than a month) in dogs with SARDS. The vision loss is permanent, but the condition is non-painful and blind dogs easily lead full, happy lives.

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