What does that mean?

As New Englanders, we love to adopt our own terms and jargon for things. When you are from New England you don’t use your directional in your car, you put on your “blinkah” to signal that you are going to turn. Veterinary medicine is no different. Here are some routine medical terms and a guide to what they are called by many locals in this part of the country.

Ovariohysterectomy – This is the term for the surgery that removes the ovaries and uterus from a female pet to prevent estrus cycles and pregnancy. It is commonly referred to as getting the pet her spay or spayed, or spayded or even just fixed.

Estrus or Estrous – This is the term for the portion of the hormone cycle when a female pet is able to become pregnant and is often interested in romance. Female dogs are often clingy and will have some bleeding while female cats may howl to get out to the males. You may be more familiar with the term heat or in heat.

Orchidectomy or Orchiectomy or Castration – These are all medical terms for the surgery that removes a male’s testicles to prevent testosterone-driven male behaviors and prostate problems. Commonly it is referred to as getting your pet neutered or fixed.

Immunizations or Inoculations or Vaccinations – Are also known as shots, yet even more interesting are the local terms for a particular vaccine. One of the core vaccines for dogs is combo distemper-parvo vaccine, often nicknamed the distemper vaccine. This vaccine is sometimes referred to as a temperament vaccine but has nothing to do with the temper of the dog. The vaccine protects against the fatal disease that was long ago named distemper for its harmful effects on the brain. For cats there is also a core vaccine that was long ago nicknamed distemper or temperament vaccine. This vaccine is for protection from a virus that is related to canine parvovirus, called feline panleukopenia. Neither of these vaccines will do anything to change the disposition of your pet but are both very important for protection against fatal viruses.