Introduction to
Anatomy & Physiology
Introduction to Anatomy and
• All parts of an animal’s body are like components to a machine.
• These components include:
• As future RVTs it is your responsibility to adequately understand this
machine and how it works, in order to effectively care for it.
• We must be able to differentiate “normal” from “abnormal”.
Anatomy and Physiology
• Anatomy: the form and
structure of the body and its
• What it looks like and where it is
• Physiology: the function of the
body and its parts.
• How things work and what they
Types of Anatomy
• Microscopic anatomy: anatomy of structures so small that a microscope is
required to view them clearly.
• Macroscopic anatomy: anatomy that deals with body parts large enough to
be seen with the unaided eye such as organs, muscles and bones.
• AKA- gross anatomy
• Regional anatomy: study of individual areas or “regions” of the body.
• Systemic anatomy: study of individual systems of the body.
• There may be overlap in some of these areas.
Main Body Systems
• Skeletal: bones and joints.
• Integumentary: skin, hair, nails and hooves.
• Nervous: Central Nervous System (CNS) and peripheral nerves.
• Cardiovascular: heart and blood vessels.
• Respiratory: lungs and air passageways.
• Digestive: Gastrointestinal (GI) tube and accessory digestive organs.
• Muscular: Skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle.
• Sensory: Organs of general and special sense
• Endocrine: Endocrine glands and hormones
• Urinary: Kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra.
• Reproductive: Male and female reproductive structures.
• We need specific anatomical terminology to be clear
and accurate with descriptions of body parts.
• Anatomical terms are based on imaginary slices,
called planes through the animal body that can be
used as points or areas of reference.
• Anatomical terms are also based on directional
terms that have opposite meanings of one another.
Describe this dog’s injury
The 4 anatomical planes of
Anatomical Planes of
• The 4 anatomical planes of
reference are:
1. Sagittal plane:
A plane that runs the length of the
body and divides it into left and right
parts that are not necessarily equal
2. Median plane (mid-sagittal
A special kind of sagittal plane that
runs down the center of the body
lengthwise and divides it into equal
left and right halves.
Planes of
3. Transverse plane:
A plane across the body that divides it into cranial (head-end) and
caudal (tail-end) parts that are not necessarily equal.
4. Dorsal plane:
A plane at right angles to the sagittal and transverse planes. It divides
the body into dorsal (toward the back) and ventral (toward the belly) parts
that are not necessarily equal. In humans, this is known as the frontal plane.
Directional Terms
• Provide a common
language for accurately
and clearly describing
body structures,
regardless of the position
of the animal’s body.
• Terms generally occur in
pairs that have opposite
meanings and are used to
describe relative positions
of body parts.
Directional Terms
Individual’s left
Individual’s right
Toward the head end of the body
Toward the tip of the nose (head only)
Toward the tail end of the body
Toward the back
Toward the belly
Toward the median plane
Away from the median plane
Toward the center (whole body or part)
Toward the surface (whole body or part)
Toward the body (extremity)
Away from the body (extremity)
“Back” of forelimb distal to carpus
“Back” of hindlimb distal to tarsus
“Front” of forelimb & hindlimb
distal to carpus & tarsusl
Domestic Animal
Deep (internal)
Superficial (external)
Deep (internal)
Superficial (external)
Directional Terms
• Left and right refer to the
ANIMAL’s left and right.
• Cranial and caudal refer to the
two ends of the animal as it
stands on four legs.
• cranial = toward the head
• caudal = toward the tail
• Rostral means towards the tip of
the nose and only describes
positions or directions on the
• Dorsal and ventral refer to “up
and down” or towards the back
and towards the belly.
Directional Terms
• Medial and lateral refer to positions relative
to the median plane
• medial = toward the midline
• lateral = away from the midline
• Deep and Superficial refer to the position
of something relative to the center or
surface of the body.
• deep = toward the center of the body
• superficial = toward the surface of the body
or a body part (external).
• Proximal and distal describe positions only
on extremities relative to other parts of the
• proximal = toward the body
• distal = away from the body
Directional terms of the limbs
• Based on whether one is referring to the distal or proximal
portion of the limb and whether it is the front or hind limb.
• The proximal/distal dividing line for the front leg is the carpus
(wrist) and for the rear leg it is the tarsus (ankle).
• The front surface of both the front and hind limbs is termed
“cranial” proximal to the carpus and “dorsal” distal to the carpus.
• The back surface of both the front and hind limbs that is proximal
to the carpus/tarsus is called the caudal surface.
• The back surface of the front leg distal to the carpus is called the
palmar surface.
• The back surface of the back leg distal to the tarsus is called the
plantar surface.
Directional terms of the limbs
Dorsal surface
Palmar surface (Fore)
Plantar surface (hind)
Describe this dog’s injury
Describe this injury
General Plan of the Animal’s Body
• Bilateral symmetry is the idea that left and right halves of
animal’s body are essentially mirror images of one
• kidneys, lungs, arms
• Single structures in the body are generally found near the
median plane.
• brain, heart, GI tract
General Plan of the Animal’s Body
• Body Cavities: animals have two
main cavities (spaces).
1. The dorsal body cavity contains the
brain and spinal cord (CNS)
• spherical cranial cavity (cranium)
• long, narrow spinal cavity (spinal
2. The ventral body cavity is much
larger than the dorsal one and contains
most of the soft organs (viscera) of the
• divided by the diaphragm into:
the cranial thoracic cavity (thorax),
which is covered by pleura
the caudal abdominal cavity
(abdomen), which is covered by
Levels of
• Cells - basic functional units of all life.
• smallest subdivision of the body that are capable of
• Tissues - when specialized cells group together.
• 4 basic tissue types:
• 1. Epithelial: cells that cover body surfaces
• 2. Connective: holds body together and gives it support.
• composed of cells and a variety of intercellular structures that
add strength
• 3. Muscle: moves body inside and out
• Skeletal, smooth, cardiac
• 4. Nervous: transmits information around the body and controls body
• Organs- groups of tissue that work together for a common purpose
• System-groups of organs that have a common set of activities
• The state of normal anatomy and physiology.
• Disease can result when these are abnormal.
• Maintaining health may be a difficult and complicated
• Health of the body as a whole depends on the health and
proper functioning of each of its systems, organs, tissues,
and cells.
• All structures and functions in the body are interrelated to
produce optimal health.
• The maintenance of a dynamic equilibrium in
the body.
• All the processes that maintain an active balance
of all of the structures, functions, and properties
of the body
• processes that monitor and adjust all the various
essential parameters of the body
• processes that help maintain a fairly constant
internal environment in the body as conditions
inside and outside the animal change.

Welcome to Anatomy and Physiology