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Veterinary medicine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 A veterinary technician in Ethiopia shows the owner of an ailing donkey how to sanitize the site of infection.
A veterinary technician in Ethiopia shows the owner of an ailing donkey how to sanitize the site of infection.

Veterinary medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, disorder and injury in non-human animals. The scope of veterinary medicine is wide, covering all animal species, both domesticated and wild, with a wide range of conditions which can affect different species.

Veterinary medicine is widely practiced, both with and without professional supervision. Professional care is most often led by a veterinary physician (also known as a vet, veterinary surgeon or veterinarian), but also by paraveterinary workers such as veterinary nurses or technicians. This can be augmented by other paraprofessionals with specific specialisms such as animal physiotherapy or dentistry, and species relevant roles such as farriers.

Veterinary science helps human health through the monitoring and control of zoonotic disease (infectious disease transmitted from non-human animals to humans), food safety, and indirectly through human applications from basic medical research. They also help to maintain food supply through livestock health monitoring and treatment, and mental health by keeping pets healthy and long living. Veterinary scientists often collaborate with epidemiologists, and other health or natural scientists depending on type of work. Ethically, veterinarians are usually obliged to look after animal welfare.

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So I'm here to talk to you about veterinarian profession. And I think it is something that is very near and dear to all of our hearts. I have two dogs. I know that Jim had mentioned earlier today he has a Lab. And Tommy mentioned you have a chocolate Lab. And even over lunch, we were talking about dogs. So this is something pretty important, I think, to all of us. But in the United States, we typically think of veterinary medicine as preventive and emergency care for our dogs, cats and horses. And this is very valuable to us. But just for the next 5 minutes, what I'd like you to do is just forget about that part. What I'd like to do is change your lens, so that you see veterinary medicine from a whole different perspective. When I served for six years in the U.S. Army Medical Service Core and this is when I realized what the veterinary profession was doing to make an impact in human, animal and environmental health. So in this slide, as you can see, the star represent the veterinary profession, and here are some of the ways that veterinarians do make a impact, which we lesser known, we don't usually think about. So according to the Food and Agricultural Organization, part of the UN, they did a study that looks at extreme poverty, they have about 1.4 billion people that fall into the category of extreme poverty. Out of that 1.4 billion, 1 billion are dependent or somehow living around the agricultural profession. And out of that, 0.5 billion are involved with live stock. This is pretty important. When we look at the UN Millennium Goals, which are outlined in this chart on the left hand side, where Ban-Ki Moon has placed some of most important factors that they look at. And come up with some idea that I have, where the veterinary profession can make a big impact in helping reduce the poverty and malnutrition globally. The healthy animal equation here -- obviously veterinarians are involved with healthy animals -- so what this means is you increase the work that each animal can produce. So for some people animals are their tractors, they're what's tearing the land. You increase the amount of product that each animal will make, so the amount of cheese, the amount of milk, the amount of meat. So this is very important in rural areas. And then, looking at the other side of the equation what you're minusing out, the more productive each animal is, the less land usage that you need for getting the same amount of product. As well as looking at transmittable diseases, which a lot of times we think of as big deals for avian influenza, swine flu, tuberculosis. These are just a few of them. So I'd like to quickly talk about some of my experiences, which has help develop my passion for veterinary medicine under this lens. This is a photo of me working in Cambodia, where this animal, this water buffalo, this is the tractor for the family. And simple measure such as deworming allows this animal to put on weight, work longer, live longer. And there is a reason it's called livestock. You think about it: this is their bank account, this is their stock, this is incredibly important to them. So the management of their stock, livestock, veterinary profession has a huge impact on what they have and their wealth. Another example quickly, is in China a School Milk Program I worked with some dairies in China and they have this program for rural children, to provide milk during their school program. So this allows children to get, for some of them, their only meal of the day. It allows them to go to school and learn as well as put on proper physical growth, which is important for them in order to go out, find a job and be productive in economic world. So this ties the idea together in some capacity where we talk about the human, animal and environmental health from a public health prospective. And looking at the educational aspects, allowing children to go to school and have healthy nutrition so that they can learn and learn trades, focusing on economic growth providing jobs in regions and agricultural and livestock development, and then finally leading to political stability which [might not be achieved] without economic growth. This is something we see, which you can see here that looks familiar -- Why does this impact you? So take a look at these headlines and rethink what's currently happening in the world today. And as future business leaders, I challenge you, the next time you bring your pet to the veterinarian, think about the global impact that the veterinarians are having in public health, economic and political stability. Thank you. (Applause)



Premodern era

 Page from an 18th-century manuscript of Shalihotra Samhita, showing an eye operation on a horse.
Page from an 18th-century manuscript of Shalihotra Samhita, showing an eye operation on a horse.
 Manuscript page of Hippiatrica (14th century)
Manuscript page of Hippiatrica (14th century)

The Egyptian Papyrus of Kahun (Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt) is the first extant record of veterinary medicine.[1] The Shalihotra Samhita, dating from the time of Ashoka, is an early Indian veterinary treatise. The edicts of Asoka read: "Everywhere King Piyadasi (Asoka) made two kinds of medicine (चिकित्सा) available, medicine for people and medicine for animals. Where there were no healing herbs for people and animals, he ordered that they be bought and planted."[2] Hippiatrica is a Byzantine compilation of hippiatrics, dated to the 5th or 6th century.

The first attempts to organize and regulate the practice of treating animals tended to focus on horses because of their economic significance. In the Middle Ages, farriers combined their work in horseshoeing with the more general task of "horse doctoring". The Arabic tradition of Bayṭara, or Shiyāt al-Khayl, originates with the treatise of Ibn Akhī Hizām (fl. late 9th century).

In 1356, the Lord Mayor of London, concerned at the poor standard of care given to horses in the city, requested that all farriers operating within a seven-mile radius of the City of London form a "fellowship" to regulate and improve their practices. This ultimately led to the establishment of the Worshipful Company of Farriers in 1674.[3]

Meanwhile, Carlo Ruini's book Anatomia del Cavallo, (Anatomy of the Horse) was published in 1598. It was the first comprehensive treatise on the anatomy of a non-human species.[4]

Establishment of profession

 Claude Bourgelat established the earliest veterinary college in Lyon in 1762.
Claude Bourgelat established the earliest veterinary college in Lyon in 1762.

The first veterinary college was founded in Lyon, France in 1762 by Claude Bourgelat.[5] According to Lupton,[6] after observing the devastation being caused by cattle plague to the French herds, Bourgelat devoted his time to seeking out a remedy. This resulted in his founding a veterinary college in Lyon in 1761, from which establishment he dispatched students to combat the disease; in a short time, the plague was stayed and the health of stock restored, through the assistance rendered to agriculture by veterinary science and art."[6]

The Odiham Agricultural Society was founded in 1783 in England to promote agriculture and industry,[7] and played an important role in the foundation of the veterinary profession in Britain. A founding member, Thomas Burgess, began to take up the cause of animal welfare and campaign for the more humane treatment of sick animals.[8] A 1785 Society meeting resolved to "promote the study of Farriery upon rational scientific principles."

 Minutes taken at the establishment of the Odiham Agricultural Society, which went on to play a pivotal role in the establishment of the veterinary profession in England.
Minutes taken at the establishment of the Odiham Agricultural Society, which went on to play a pivotal role in the establishment of the veterinary profession in England.

The physician James Clark wrote a treatise entitled Prevention of Disease in which he argued for the professionalization of the veterinary trade, and the establishment of veterinary colleges. This was finally achieved in 1790, through the campaigning of Granville Penn, who persuaded the Frenchman, Benoit Vial de St. Bel to accept the professorship of the newly established Veterinary College in London.[7] The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons was established by royal charter in 1844. Veterinary science came of age in the late 19th century, with notable contributions from Sir John McFadyean, credited by many as having been the founder of modern Veterinary research.[9]

In the United States, the first schools were established in the early 19th century in Boston, New York and Philadelphia. In 1879, Iowa Agricultural College became the first land grant college to establish a school of veterinary medicine.[10]

Veterinary workers

Veterinary physicians

 Surgery on a dog
Surgery on a dog

Veterinary care and management is usually led by a veterinary physician (usually called a vet, veterinary surgeon or veterinarian). This role is the equivalent of a doctor in human medicine, and usually involves post-graduate study and qualification.

In many countries, the local nomenclature for a vet is a protected term, meaning that people without the prerequisite qualifications and/or registration are not able to use the title, and in many cases, the activities that may be undertaken by a vet (such as animal treatment or surgery) are restricted only to those people who are registered as vet. For instance, in the United Kingdom, as in other jurisdictions, animal treatment may only be performed by registered vets (with a few designated exceptions, such as paraveterinary workers), and it is illegal for any person who is not registered to call themselves a vet or perform any treatment.

Most vets work in clinical settings, treating animals directly. These vets may be involved in a general practice, treating animals of all types; may be specialized in a specific group of animals such as companion animals, livestock, laboratory animals, zoo animals or horses; or may specialize in a narrow medical discipline such as surgery, dermatology, laboratory animal medicine, or internal medicine.

As with healthcare professionals, vets face ethical decisions about the care of their patients. Current debates within the profession include the ethics of purely cosmetic procedures on animals, such as declawing of cats, docking of tails, cropping of ears and debarking on dogs.

Paraveterinary workers

 US and South African army veterinary technicians prepare a dog for spaying.
US and South African army veterinary technicians prepare a dog for spaying.
 An eye exam of a kitten under way prior to the kitten's adoption.
An eye exam of a kitten under way prior to the kitten's adoption.

Paraveterinary workers, including veterinary nurses, technicians and assistants, either assist vets in their work, or may work within their own scope of practice, depending on skills and qualifications, including in some cases, performing minor surgery.

The role of paraveterinary workers is less homogeneous globally than that of a vet, and qualification levels, and the associated skill mix, vary widely.

Allied professions

A number of professions exist within the scope of veterinary medicine, but which may not necessarily be performed by vets or veterinary nurses. This includes those performing roles which are also found in human medicine, such as practitioners dealing with musculoskeletal disorders, including osteopaths, chiropractors and physiotherapists.

There are also roles which are specific to animals, but which have parallels in human society, such as animal grooming and animal massage.

Some roles are specific to a species or group of animals, such as farriers, who are involved in the shoeing of horses, and in many cases have a major role to play in ensuring the medical fitness of the horse.

Veterinary research

Veterinary research includes research on prevention, control, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of animals and on the basic biology, welfare, and care of animals. Veterinary research transcends species boundaries and includes the study of spontaneously occurring and experimentally induced models of both human and animal disease and research at human-animal interfaces, such as food safety, wildlife and ecosystem health, zoonotic diseases, and public policy.[11]

Clinical veterinary research

As in medicine, randomized controlled trials are fundamental also in veterinary medicine to establish the effectiveness of a treatment.[12] However, clinical veterinary research is far behind human medical research, with fewer randomized controlled trials, that have a lower quality and that are mostly focused on research animals.[13] Possible improvement consists in creation of network for inclusion of private veterinary practices in randomized controlled trials.

See also

By country


  1. ^ Thrusfield 2007, p. 2.
  2. ^ Finger 2001, p. 12.
  3. ^ Hunter, Pamela (2004). Veterinary Medicine: A Guide to Historical Sources, p. 1. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
  4. ^ Wernham, R. B. (1968). The New Cambridge Modern History: The Counter-Reformation and price revolution, 1559-1610, Volume 3, p.472. Cambridge University Press.
  5. ^ Marc Mammerickx, Claude Bourgelat: avocat des vétérinaires, Bruxelles 1971
  6. ^ a b J.L.Lupton, "Modern Practical Farriery", 1879, in the section: "The Diseases of Cattle Sheep and Pigs" pp. 1
  7. ^ a b Pugh, L.P (1962), From Farriery to Veterinary Medicine 1785-1795, Heffner, Cambridge (for RCVS), pp. 8–19 
  8. ^ Cotchen, Ernest (1990), The Royal Veterinary College London, A Bicentenary History, Barracuda Books Ltd, pp. 11–13 
  9. ^ Exacting researcher brought profession into modern age, American Veterinary Medical Association 
  10. ^ Widder, Keith R. (2005). Michigan Agricultural College: The Evolution Of A Land-Grant Philosophy, 1855-1925, p. 107. MSU Press
  11. ^ National Research Council, (US) Committee on the National Needs for Research in Veterinary Science (2005). Critical Needs for Research in Veterinary Science. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US). 
  12. ^ Sargeant, JM (2010). "Quality of reporting of clinical trials of dogs and cats and associations with treatment effects". Journal of veterinary internal medicine. 24 (1): 44–50. doi:10.1111/j.1939-1676.2009.0386.x. 
  13. ^ Di Girolamo, N (2016). "Deficiencies of effectiveness of intervention studies in veterinary medicine: a cross-sectional survey of ten leading veterinary and medical journals". PeerJ. 4: e1649. doi:10.7717/peerj.1649. PMC 4734056Freely accessible. PMID 26835187. 

Further reading

Introductory textbooks and references

Monographs and other speciality texts

Veterinary nursing, ophthalmology, and pharmacology

Related fields

External links

This page was last edited on 10 January 2018, at 06:56.
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