Decoding a Veterinarian Record Chart

kitten sitting on scale at vet's office

Have you ever wondered what all those abbreviations and acronyms mean that are on your cat's health record chart at the veterinarian's office? Sometimes, I think doctors, dentists, veterinarians, nurses (basically anyone who is educated and proficient in their field) have their own language, and it is meant to keep us "lay" persons guessing as to the meaning of certain things. In an attempt to demystify our pet's veterinarian records, here is a list of the ten most used abbreviations and their meanings.

ADR – "Ain't doin' right."

A cat owner brings his cat into the vet's office because the cat's behavior is just a bit "off." There is really nothing specific, just that the owner "knows" something is not right with the cat. Maybe the kitty's appetite is a bit off, or it is not playing with his toys as much. There are no obvious signs of illness or injury. Some vets use ADR and others use NDR ("not doing right").

BAR – "Bright, alert and responsive."

If your vet is examining the cat and it is feeling good, looking around at his environment and responding to the noises and visual stimulation in the exam room, the cat is BAR. Conversely, a cat who is a bit under the weather or has a more laid back personality might be QAR (quiet, alert and responsive).

C/S/V/D – "Coughing, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea."

During the veterinarian appointment, the vet will ask you about your cat and if it is having any of these symptoms. If so, this would be the abbreviation for those issues. A cat owner wants to see the following on their pet's chart – "C/S/V/D: None"

DDx – Differential diagnosis

Often, you may have seen this abbreviation on your own health record. If your cat is sick and his symptoms could be caused by one or more of several conditions, the vet will list the possibilities as "differential diagnosis." For instance, if the cat is brought in due to vomiting and diarrhea, the vet may write "DDx: Parasites, bacterial infection, dietary switch." These types of issues might be resolved using a diagnostic test such as a fecal test, x-ray or blood panel to narrow the possibilities.

DUDE – "Defecating, urinating, drinking and eating."

During the exam, a veterinarian will ask if your cat has had a normal appetite and water consumption level, as well as if the cat has been peeing and pooping regularly. If the answer is yes to all these questions, the vet may record "DUDE: Normal."

DZ – "Disease"

DZ is a phonetic shorthand for the word "disease. If the cat's chart reads "Renal dz" on the veterinarian's DDx list, you will know that the vet suspects renal (kidney) disease as a possibility.

NSF – "No significant Finds."

NSF does not mean the same as you see on your bank statement. NSF on your cat's record is a good thing as it means that your vet examined the cat and didn't find anything to cause any concern.

R/O – "Rule Out."

After a veterinarian runs diagnostic tests to narrow down the DDx, she/he may note that the tests are to "r/o" one or more conditions. Some veterinarians use r/o as a substitute for DDx.

T/G – "Tarter, gingivitis"

The veterinarian will characterize the amount of tartar buildup and the redness and/or swelling of the cat's gums on a four-point scale. T0/G0 means the cat's teeth are in pristine condition, and the gums are healthy. A rating of T4/G4 would indicate the cat's mouth is in need of major dental work. If there were a lot of tartar but not much gingivitis the score could be: T3/G1.

WNL – "Within normal limits"

During the cat's examination, a check of the heart rate, respiration rate and pulses in various major arteries will be done. If these various tests reflect normal responses, the veterinarian will indicate this by noting: WNL.

This list by no means covers all of the different abbreviations and acronyms that a veterinarian may use, but these are the most common and will assist you in understanding more of what is being written about your cat and what the veterinarian may be thinking about a particular issue your cat is experiencing.

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