Chris Kouwenhoven

What do all the initials mean?

Like most things, veterinary medicine has its share of initials and acronyms that, while saving time in both writing and reading, can be extremely confusing if you are not sure just what they mean. I want to define some of the more common ones today so that I won't lose or confuse you in future issues of The Virtual Veterinarian.

**V.M.D. = Veterinary Medical Doctor and it means the same thing as Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.). The only difference is that some colleges of Veterinary Medicine award one degree and some award the other degree. Of the two, DVM is the more common; however, the two degrees are identical in training and license requirements.

**BUN = Blood Urea Nitrogen. This is a rapid test done to help assess the ability of the kidneys to function in the removal of waste products.

**RBC = Red Blood Cell. The oxygen carrying cell in the blood.

**WBC = White Blood Cell. The cells that protect the body from invading organisms like bacteria, viruses and parasites. Many different types of WBC are present and the relative increase in numbers of certain types of WBCs help make a diagnosis of what type of organism is involved.

**CBC = Complete Blood Count. This is a count of specific WBCs to determine which types are elevated. This information tells us how the body is responding to infection or invasion and allows us to treat the problem accordingly. Includes percentages of specialized WBCs such as neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes, and monocytes.

**FIV = Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. This virus causes a marked depression of the feline immune system and makes cats very susceptible to a variety of other infections.

**FIP = Feline Infectious Peritonitis. A viral disease that affects both large and domestic cats worldwide. A fatality rate approaching 100% is common in outbreaks.

**FeLV = Feline Leukemia Virus. Primarily a disease of domestic cats, infection results in depression of the immune system and a variety of malignancies. Many organ systems may be affected, including reproductive, blood, urinary and others.

**ICH = Infectious Canine Hepatitis. Viral disease of dogs seen worldwide. Fatality rate is highest in young dogs. As the name implies, it is a transmissible disease that severely damages one of the most important organs, the liver.

**NASID = Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs. A large group of chemical compounds that are utilized in reducing fevers, combating inflammation, and reducing pain. Used in a wide variety of longer term treatments in which the use of steroid drugs might cause additional complications. This is a very common class of drugs used in many species, including humans. Human drugs in this class include Naproxen (Aleve), Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and acetaminophen (Tylenol).

** PO = Per os. This is a shorthand from Latin meaning "by mouth". Generally you will see this on prescriptions or in directions for giving medications at home.

**BID = means give or take twice a day. Again, shorthand from Latin.

**TID = means give or take three times a day.

**QID = same as above except that this is given four times a day.