History of Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, disorder and injury in animals. Veterinary medicine today is widely practiced, both with and without professional supervision. Today, it includes the use of pharmaceuticals, herbal supplements, essential oils, iridology, massage/reflexology, among other forms of treatment.

It is thought that man acquired the art of medicine by studying the manner in which animals and birds treated themselves. Accordingly, animals and birds were by this theory the first veterinarians and, by extension, were the pristine source of medicine. The first medicines were plants.

Veterinary medicine is rooted in the early management of stock breeding, when man had to initiate medical care for their herds. Horse doctoring was the major impetus for the development of this trade from ancient times up through the early 20th century in most cultures around the world. Horses, together with oxen, were essential to the general economy, civilian and military transportation, wars, etc. and therefore the most carefully looked after.

Many scholars state that the story of veterinary medicine goes back to a person named Urlugaledinna, who lived in 3000 BC in Mesopotamia, and was claimed to be “an expert in healing animals”. As a recognized profession, veterinarians are mentioned in the early second millennium in Mesopotamia (Code of Hammurabi, reign: 1792–1750 BC).

The ancient Indian author, Salihotriya, whose writings are approximately 6,000 years old, provides an early known designation of the veterinarian in the word ‘Salutri.’ In ancient Egypt the papyrus of Kahun, 12th dynasty: c.1850 BC, mentions animal healing. Both the ancient Indian and the Egyptian veterinarians of this period, proved themselves a success or failure based upon their results as a practicing demonologist.

The Chinese in the 22nd century B.C. originated its veterinary medicine when man began to tame wild animals. By the 16th century B.C., they were carving medical practices on pieces of bone. Full-time veterinarians were in practice by the 11th century B.C.

The earliest Greek evidence so far discovered for veterinarians called hippiatroi (horse doctors) is an honorific inscription of c.130 BC. Between 500-300 BC, the Greek physicians practiced indiscriminately upon the horse and its rider. In Rome, an equarius medicus (horse doctor) is attested by the end of the 1st century BC. Afterwards, terms such as mulomedicus (mule doctor), medicus veterinarius, medicus iumentarius, or medicus pecuarius (livestock doctor) are attested in the late-Roman empire, albeit rarely. A man who explored the viscera of animals was also the nation’s meteorologist.

During the ninth century in England a large collection of medical and veterinarian remedies were compiled in the Bald’s Leechbook. This manuscript takes its name from læca, the Old English word for physician. (Læca later became associated with leeches.) Its recipes are drawn from Greek and Roman authors and several late Antique authors.

The first formal veterinary school was founded in Lyon, France in 1761 by Claude Bourgelat, and that’s when the profession of veterinary medicine officially began. The school focused on studying the anatomy and diseases of sheep, horses and cattle in an effort to combat cattle deaths from a plague in France.

Between 1840 and 1949 traditional veterinarian medicine fell into disfavor in China. Western schools took root in the country at the start of the 20th century. Those who practiced folk medicine carried the practice into the 1950’s when there was a resurgence.

The first American veterinarian school was not established until 1879. At that time farriers often served as the health-care specialists for animals. Although, medical doctors also took on the care of animals.

Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ

Jolene Griffiths, Staff ND, The Health Patch – Cultivating Naturopathic Care for Total Health

1024 S. Douglas Blvd, Midwest City ph: 736-1030, e-mail: [email protected]

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.