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A list of words, phrases and terms... all related to dogs.

There are 288 entries in the dog dictionary.
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Term Definition

Leishmaniasis is a protozoan infection spread by a species of sandfly that injects the protozoans while feeding on a victim. Humans as well as Dogs are subject to infection. The disease progresses very slowly and can take many years before symptoms become apparent. These include weakness, lethargy, intolerance to activity, loss of appetite, weight loss, and chronic diarrhea. These symptoms may apply to other infectious diseases, but 90% of Dogs will develop dry lesions that lose hair beginning on the muzzle, forehead, earflaps, paws and footpads and then move to other parts of the body. Leishmaniasis is very difficult to treat in Dogs.


A bacterial infection primarily attacking the kidneys and liver. Leptospirosis is spread when a dog comes into contact with the urine of an infected animal either by licking the urine from a surface directly or by drinking contaminated water from a ditch or puddle,heavily used pasture, or stagnant water. Common carriers of the disease include cattle, deer, rabbits and raccoons. Symptoms include dark urine, yellowing of the eyes and vomiting.The vaccine is more volatile than others, meaning it can result in more side effects and allergic reactions. Vaccines against bacterial infections are shorter lived in general and need to be administered more frequently to protect the dog.Not all strains of Leptospirosis are covered by current vaccines. Question your veterinarian if a Leptospirosis vaccine is needed in your area and for your situation. If infected, EARLY treatment with antibiotics is effective in knocking down the bacteria and shortening the bout with the disease. Advanced cases may require intensive therapy to treat kidney function and liver disease.

Level Bite

When the upper and lower jaws are closed, the edges of the upper and lower incisors touch evenly without any overlap. This is considered acceptable by many but is not correct.


Fibrous tissue made from collagen that connects one bone to another bone.

Luteal Hormone

Commonly abbreviated as LH, Luteal Hormone is found in small quantity in the bloodstream of a Bitch. During Estrus however, the Pituitary Gland secretes LH. The surge in LH initiates ovulation.


Lutein is in the group of compounds known as cartenoids which provide pigment to plants and help protect them from damage during periods of excessive sunlight. Animals use Lutein as an antioxidant, and it accumulates in the retina, where in much the same way it protects the eye from strong sunlight. Lutein is found in large amounts in green leafy vegetables especially kale and also in eggs where it gives the yolk its bright yellow color. Studies have shown that lutein and another cartenoid, zeaxanthin, which also accumulates in the retina, help reduce the risk of macular degeneration as well as limited the growth of age related cataracts. Freeze dried organic kale powder added to your Dog's meal is a great way to supplement your Dog's diet with Lutein and zeaxanthin. (See cartenoids, zeaxanthin, macula.)

Lyme Disease

An infection caused by a bite from a tick that carries the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi. The tick must feed on the dog for some hours before transfer of the Spirochete begins. Many dogs do not develop symptoms and are diagnosed through routine blood screening. Dogs that do develop symptoms may have joint pain, alternating lameness from limb to limb, lethargy and/or a stiff gait. The immune system may produce large amounts of antibodies to combat the infection which must be filtered through the kidneys and over time may disintigrate their cleansing performance.Routine urine tests are suggested to detect early signs of kidney failure. Antibiotic therapy is used to fight infection in both asymptomatic dogs and affected dogs. Although the bacteria is never fully eliminated from the body it is usually knocked down to a manageable level in most dogs. (See Borrelia burgdorferi and Quantitative C6 test.)

Lyme Nephritis

Even with antibiotic treatment Borrelia burgorferi is never fully eradicated from the body. The continual presence of the Lyme bacteria can cause some dogs to be constantly producing antibodies to defend itself against the invading spirochete. Antibodies must be filtered through the kidneys and can over time deposit in the kidneys destroying the filtering capability. Dogs that have tested positive for Lyme should have urine analyzed on a regular basis for protein loss. Late detection of kidney involvement in Lyme disease can prove fatal.


Lymphocytes are white blood cells in the immune system that help the body fight infection and disease. The 2 main types of lymphocytes are B-cells and T-cells. B-cells are responsible for the production of antibodies that attack foreign invaders directly. T-cells attack the body's own cells that have been infected by a virus or cancer. Over the course of time, B and T cells leave behind cells for each specific antigen battled. These "memory cells" enable the Dog to jump start a quick response if the same invader is encountered again.


Lymphoma is one of the most common forms of cancer occuring in Dogs. Affected animals are mostly genetically predisposed to the disease, although there is evidence that exposure to herbicides and pesticides increases the risk of contracting the disease. In lymphoma, white blood cells are somehow altered, and begin to multiply improperly. The body fails to recognize the cells as pathogens and the cells continue to grow unchecked. Tumors can be found on the lymph nodes at the armpits, at the throat under the jaw, in the groin and in the lower back legs behind the stifle. Internal tumors affect the liver, spleen, or gastrointestinal tract. (See lymphocytes.)


Lysine is one of the ten essential amino acids that Dogs must ingest from their diet. It is important in the production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies as well as fundamental in the building of muscle tissue and the utilization of calcium.


A Major is a show where larger numbers of Dogs are entered in the conformation classes. There are enough competitors entered to award the winning class Dog either 3, 4, or 5 points. Smaller shows are only worth 1 or 2 points depending on the number of entries. A Dog must win at least 2 major shows under 2 different judges to achieve a Championship.


Lower Jaw

Mast Cells

Mast cells are leukocytes, a type of white blood cell, that is produced in the bone marrow and migrates to most all tissues in the body, particularly to the skin, intestines, lungs and air passage ways. Because these locations are doorways to the environment, mast cells act as early responders to invaders which result in the immediate release of compounds, such as Histamines to prepare and alert the body to counteract a toxin of some kind. (See histamines.)


The upper jaw.


(immiticide)is a drug used to kill adult heartworms and administered by injection directly into the muscle.


Gregor Mendel, (1822-1884) laid the foundation for the modern theories on inheritance with his work with pea plants. He was the first person to calculate and track physical traits over many generations and explain how these traits are inherited. His fundamental discoveries about genetics include: 1.) Each parent delivers half of the genetic information to the offspring. 2.) Some traits are "dominant" over others. 3.) Different offspring of the same parents receive different genetic combinations. Mendel's work led to understanding pedigrees and predicting the probability of passing an inherited disease to the next generation as well as passing desired characteristics.


Tissue in the stifle joint that cushions the impact between the femur and the tibia. There are two; the medial meniscus and the lateral meniscus. Most miniscus surgery in Dogs is to the medial meniscus, while damage to the lateral meniscus is relatively rare.


A study on Alaskan team sled Dogs in the Yukon valley has shown that Dogs fed a local natural diet that includes black bear, pike and salmon, have higher levels of mercury. The study has linked elevated mercury levels to compromised antioxidant capacity in these Dogs. In humans, increased mercury levels has shown to damage the colon and is associated with many health issues. Investigate if seafood formula feeds contain mercury and if your veterinarian offers mercury free vaccines. (See thimerosal)


A muzzle that is medium in length and width.


Metabolism refers to all the bio-chemical interactions in the cells of all living organisms that produce and maintain life. Metabolism is divided between Catabolism which are processes that break down materials through enzymatic activity or other chemical reactions, and Anabolism which uses bio-chemical reactions and energy to build cell components, amino acids, nucleic acids and proteins. Nutrition, digestion, physical activity, excretion, and genetics all affect metabolism. The metabolic rate of an animal determines how much food it will need, and how often it will need to feed in order to survive.


Metronidazole is an antibiotic used to treat protozoa infections such as giardia or coccidia. The brand name is Flagyl. Metronidazole is becoming less complete in treating protozoan infections and many veterinarians now choose fenbendazole. (See Fenbendazole.)


(Interceptor) is a monthly heartworm preventative. It kills microfilariae. (See Heartworm)

Milk Thistle

Milk Thistle is a very common field plant in the Aster family. The active flavanoid in milk thistle is silymarin, and is available in health food stores in capsule, liquid or powder form. It is suggested to be used only on ailing Dogs and not as a daily preventative supplement. Silymarin is administered for certain liver disorders because it concentrates in the bile and improves liver cell function. It is a potent antioxidant and studies have shown that it can retard tumor growth especially in prostate cancer and malignant melanomas although more research is needed. Read about Milk Thistle and talk to your veterinarian if you are thinking about giving it to your Dog.

Mitral Valve

The valve between the Left Atrium and the Left Ventricle that prevents blood from slipping back into the Left Atrium.


A condition where the dog only develops one testicle. This is not to be confused with one-sided cryptorchidism where only 1 testicle drops into the scrotum and the 2nd testicle remains up in the abdomen.


Inflammation of the kidney.


A kind of white blood cell that accounts for 50% to 75% of all white blood cells. They fight bacterial infections and foreign invaders.


(See Vitamin B3)


The highest point of the skull at the back of the head

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