Glossary of terms for pet insurance


  • Adrenal - small glands above the kidneys that produce hormones affecting the metabolism.
  • Alopecia - hair loss.
  • Anaemia - a condition in which the oxygen-carrying haemoglobin pigment levels are below normal in the blood. Signs include pale gums and listlessness.


  • Bronchi - tiny air passages of the lungs that conduct air from the windpipe into the lungs and then into the blood stream.


  • Cage - a self-contained pet cage with a wipe-clean base that can be used as a safe sleeping area for your puppy. Available through pet stores in various sizes to suit different size breeds. Can also be used to transport dogs safely in cars when travelling.
  • Canine parainfluenza virus - causes flu-like symptoms and a high temperature of 30C/102F or more.
  • Cat shampoo - don't use a human shampoo on your cat as it could irritate her skin. Look for a specific feline product instead.
  • Cataract - the lens of the eye gradually becomes less transparent.
  • Colitis - inflammation of the bowel.
  • Conjunctivitis - a bacterial or viral eye infection that causes a sticky discharge and irritation.
  • Cysts - blocked sebaceous glands on the skin's surface.


  • Ecto-parasiticide - a strong insecticidal formula used for external parasites.
  • Electro-magnetic - relating to the interrelation of electric currents or fields and magnetic fields.
  • Elizabethan collar - a plastic cone-shaped ruff worn round the neck that prevents the cat nibbling or licking any part of their body or paws.
  • Entire female - a cat that hasn't been spayed and is, therefore, capable of becoming pregnant and having kittens.


  • Gingivitis - gum disease characterised by reddened or bleeding gums at the base of the teeth.


  • Haemoglobin - cells that carry oxygen around the body.
  • Haemorrhage - an internal bleed.
  • Halti - a head collar for dogs that tend to pull on a normal lead and choke themselves.
  • Harness - designed to fit around the dog's body and legs, attaching on the back, in between the shoulder-blades. Designed to stop a dog pulling harshly on his lead.
  • Haunches - hind quarters/legs.
  • Hock - the joint in a dog's hind leg between the knee and the fetlock, the angle of which points backwards.
  • Hypersensitivities - extreme physical sensitivities to particular substances or conditions.
  • Hypo-allergenic - relatively unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.


  • Infectious canine hepatitis - a liver disease that a dog can pass on in his urine for up to six months after being cured.
  • Inguinal - affecting the groin.
  • Insecticides - chemical substances used for killing insects.


  • Ketones - substances made when the body breaks down fat or energy.
  • Kong - a cone-shaped, hard rubber toy which has spaces to insert treats.


  • Larynx - voice box.
  • Leptospirosis - carried by rats and foxes and passed from dog to dog in infected urine.


  • Metaldehyde - a form of insecticide used to kill slugs.
  • Microchip - a tiny device that's injected in the scruff of the neck and holds personal information about the pet permanently.


  • Neutered - a cat or dog that's had an operation to make it sterile i.e. unable to make a female pregnant or to have kittens, if female.
  • Neutering - a routine operation to stop a dog or cat being able to make a female pregnant or to stop a bitch from ever conceiving puppies. Male dogs are castrated, that is, they have their testes removed while a bitch will have the uterus and ovaries removed.


  • Ophthalmic - concerned with the eye and treatment of the disorders that affect it.
  • Otitis externa - outer ear canal.
  • Over-bite - in a dog, the teeth should mesh together when the animal bites but if the upper or lower jaw juts out further, this is an under-bite or an over-bite.


  • Periodontal - concerning the structures that support the teeth.
  • Pharynx - throat.
  • Plaque - a rough, sticky coating on the teeth that consists of saliva, bacteria and food debris, usually found at the margins of teeth and gums.
  • Puppy crate - a self-contained pet cage with a wipe-clean base that can be used as a safe sleeping area for your puppy.


  • Rex - the coat has a thick velvety feel due to the structure of the hairs being bred differently.


  • Satin - the coat has a rich, satin sheen and is due to selective breeding changing the structure of the coat.


  • Tartar - a hard, crust-like deposit found on the crowns and roots of teeth, formed when mineral salts from saliva are deposited in existing plaque.
  • Toxoplasmosis - a parasitic infection in cats that can be passed on via their faeces if left unwormed.
  • Training pad - an absorbent, waterproof-backed sheet that can be laid on the floor for your dog to wee on and thrown away after use. Available through pet stores and some vets.


  • Umbilical - the navel.
  • Urethra - the tube that carries urine out of the body from the bladder.


  • Warfarin - used as rat poison, causes massive internal bleeding.
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