Vet Terminology starting with S on – from Scale to Systemic


Accumulation of loose fragments of the top layer of the skin.

Schiff-Scherrington posture
A condition, caused by a lesion in the spinal cord, in which the front legs are held rigid and straight, and the rear legs are weak or paralyzed. Sometimes, the neck may be hyperextended, with the head held up and over the back.

A hardening of tissue, usually the result of chronic inflammation.

In turtles and tortoises, the plates which cover the bony portion of the shell. In snakes, the larger, thicker scales on the underside of the body which provide support, protection, and traction.

Sebaceous adenitis
Inflammation of a sebaceous (oil-producing) gland. In dogs, sebaceous glands are found on the top of the tail near its base, and at the junction of mucous membranes with skin. In cats, these glands are found on the chin, lip margins, and the top of the tail.

Sebaceous gland
A gland in the skin which produces an oily substance.

Second generation
A description of medications developed from an earlier form of the medication. First generation medications were developed from the original form of the drug; second generation medications are adaptations of first generation drugs; third generation drugs are adaptations of second generation, etc.

Secondary infection
Infection which occurs because the tissue and its natural defenses have been damaged by another condition.

Secondary response
The faster and greater immune response produced by an animal who has previously encountered that specific antigen. Memory cells are responsible for this more efficient response. Also called ‘anamnestic response.’

Seizure threshold
The level of stimulation at which a seizure is produced. Raising the seizure threshold makes it less likely a seizure will occur.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor(SSRIs)
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: Medications which slow down the ability of nerve cells to absorb serotonin, a neurotransmitter (chemical that serves as a messenger between nerves). Example: Prozac.

Separation anxiety
A behavioral condition in which the pet becomes anxious when separated from the owner. Dogs with separation anxiety tend to ‘shadow’ their owners, greet them exuberantly when they return after being gone, and sometimes vocalize, chew destructively, and urinate or defecate when separated from their owners.

The presence of toxins in the blood or other tissues; the toxins are produced by bacteria or other microorganisms.

A condition caused by an infection e.g., with bacteria or fungi, or toxins they produce.

A disease affecting many organ systems due to toxins in the blood which are released by bacteria or other microorganisms. Signs include fever, pinpoint bruises on mucous membranes, and lesions in the joints, heart valves, eyes, or other organs.

Laboratory testing for antibody-antigen reactions and antibody levels.

A subdivision of a species of microorganism, e.g., a bacteria, based upon its particular antigens.

Thin and watery.

The fluid portion of the blood after it has clotted and the cells have been removed.

Shedding (of organisms): A term used to describe the release of organisms (bacteria, protozoa, viruses) into the environment from an infected animal. The organisms may be in the stool, urine, respiratory secretions, or vaginal discharges. The ‘shedding’ animal may or may not be showing symptoms of disease.

Skin cytology
Examination, with a microscope, of a skin scraping or material from swabbing the skin. The material may be stained and checked for the presence of yeast, bacteria, tumor cells, etc.

Skin scraping
Scraping some material from the surface of the skin and looking at it under a microscope, e.g., to check for skin mites.

Smooth muscle
The type of muscle found in the internal organs such as stomach and intestines (not the heart).

Soluble carbohydrate
Also, soluble fiber. Easily digested carbohydrates like starch.

Sleepiness, a condition of semiconsciousness approaching coma.

Somogyi effect
A condition in which the blood glucose level increases if too much insulin is given. It occurs when insulin causes the blood glucose level to go so low it stimulates the production of other hormones in the body such as epinephrine, which promote the breakdown of glycogen (the chemical compound which the body uses to store glucose) and increases the blood glucose level above normal. It is also called rebound hyperglycemia or insulin-induced hyperglycemia.

Sterilization by surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus of a female animal.

A ring-like band of muscle that constricts a passage or closes an opening, e.g., the anal sphincter constricts to close the anus and relaxes when the animal is passing stool. The urethral sphincter closes the urinary bladder.

A type of bacteria which is long, slender, and assumes a spiral shape. Leptospira species and the bacteria that causes Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi) are spirochetes.

Part of the immune system of an animal. A large, tongue-shaped organ in the abdomen containing many lymphocytes. The spleen filters blood and removes damaged cells. It can also manufacture new blood cells if the animal’s bone marrow is damaged.

Scaly-bodied reptile including lizards and snakes.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors: Medications which slow down the ability of nerve cells to absorb serotonin, a neurotransmitter (chemical that serves as a messenger between nerves). Example: Prozac.

In the gastrointestinal tract, a condition in which the food does not move through normally, but remains in one section, e.g., food does not pass from the stomach into the intestine.

Status epilepticus
A condition in which the animal exhibits one severe (Grand Mal) seizure right after another, with no time to recover in-between.

The narrowing of an organ of passage such as a blood vessel or intestine.

Stress-induced hyperglycemia
A condition in cats in which the blood glucose level becomes abnormally high when the animal is stressed, e.g., in the veterinarian’s office.

The narrowing of an organ of passage such as a blood vessel or intestine.

A chemical compound, magnesium ammonium phosphate, which is made by the body and can form crystals and stones in the urinary bladder.

Under the skin; often called ‘sub Q.’

A partial dislocation of a joint in which the bones become out of alignment, but the joint itself is still intact.

Relative to the husbandry of reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals, the substrate is the material that lines the bottom of a cage.

A class of antibiotics which contain sulfur. They are bacteriostatic (they stop the growth (reproduction) of bacteria, but do NOT kill them).

Having a litter with more than one father (or breeding).

Supraventricular tachycardia
A condition in which the heart beats very rapidly because of signals coming from the atria (chambers of the heart that receive the blood) or near the junction of the atria with the ventricles (the chambers of the heart that pump the blood to the body or lungs).

Producing effects similar to the ‘flight or fight’ response, which means the body is alerted to a danger of some sort and prepares to basically run or fight. Sympathomimetic effects include increased heart rate, sweating, and increased blood pressure.

The temporary loss of consciousness; fainting.

An agent that enhances the action of another.

Pertaining to a joint made up of bone ends covered with cartilage, ligaments, a cavity filled with synovial fluid (joint fluid) and an outside fibrous capsule, e.g., hip joint, elbow joint.

Throughout the body.