Veterinary medicine has crossed a long, revolutionary road since its beginnings, from few thousands of years BC to modern veterinary clinician who has a wide variety of skills and tools available and who always strives to improve and upgrade his knowledge. Although its main focus is on prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease in non-human animals, veterinary medicine also helps human health through monitoring and controlling infectious disease transmition for example. But, let us go back, and start from the beginning.
Considering archeological evidences, the first medical treatment on animals dates back to around 3000 BC in Middle East. The fact is that there are even Egyptian hieroglyphs that are showing the usage of herbs in treating domestic animals. Furthermore, the oldest known medical text is called Kahun Papyrus, it came from Egypt and it dates back to 1900 BC. That text has a 34 specific topics, and one of them is animal gynecology. Obviously, in early days, most of the medical efforts were focused on cattle, since the cattle was one of the main resources in food production.
Middle Ages development was quite similar, except that the main veterinary focus was on horses, due to their huge importance to the whole society. In those times, horseshoeing was closely connected with the general medical care of horses. For example, in 1356, Mayor of London, after learning about the poor treatment the horses are getting, persuaded farriers to form a fellowship which will regulate and improve the process of horse treatment and care. Ultimately, that led to the creation of Worshipful Company of Farriers in 1674 – one of the first organized “veterinary” associations.
The first official veterinary school was founded in Lyon in 1761. According to several sources, after witnessing the cattle plague, Claude Bourgelat was trying to find the solution to the plague problem and he was the founder of that school. In a very short time his students were able to fight the disease and the health of stock was quickly restored. In the next few decades, veterinary schools were quickly being established in Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and that later on in the United States.
Modern times have brought us small animal practices and overall different treatment towards animals. Millions of people are considering pets as part of the family, and that is a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future. Today’s veterinarians are facing a number of challenges that their predecessors didn’t. Growth of technology, educational progress and oversupply of veterinary clinicians is just a small part of those challenges. However, there is one encouraging fact that should be mentioned – nowadays, the pet industry is one of the very few industries that can fight recession and has a constant growth. That’s why a modern, 21st century veterinary clinician should always invest in expanding his knowledge and necessary skills.