Veterinary medicine

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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 science that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, disorder and injury in 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) and veterinary scientists often collaborate with epidemiologists.

Contents

History

An injured horse being secured to "The Simplicity Equine" portable operating table in its vertically oriented position during World War I

The Egyptian Papyrus of Kahun (1900 BCE) and Vedic literature in ancient India offer one of the first written records of veterinary medicine.[1] (See also Shalihotra) One of the edicts of Ashoka reads: "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]

In Europe, 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 shoeing and generally caring for horses' hooves with "horse doctoring". 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]

The first veterinary college in Europe had been founded in Lyon, France in 1762 by Claude Bourgelat. In the ensuing 20 years similar colleges were established in other European cities. The Veterinary College of London was founded in 1791 by a group led by Granville Penn, a grandson of William Penn.[5] In the United States, the first veterinarians had been trained in Europe. However, Boston, New York and Philadelphia all had their own private veterinary schools by the 1850s. These urban schools concentrated primarily on the care of horses. By the turn of the 20th century, several American agricultural colleges had started their own veterinary schools which were focused on livestock animals. In 1879, Iowa Agricultural College became the first land grant college to establish a school of veterinary medicine.[6]

Veterinary workers

Veterinary physicians

Veterinary care 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.
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.

See also

By country

Notes

  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. ^ Hunter (2004) p. 4
  6. ^ Widder, Keith R. (2005). Michigan Agricultural College: The Evolution Of A Land-Grant Philosophy, 1855-1925, p. 107. MSU Press

References

Introductory textbooks and references

Monographs and other speciality texts

Veterinary nursing, ophthalmology, and pharmacology

Other fields related to veterinary medicine

External links