Veterinary Medicine

Veterinary Medicine

History

The Egyptian Papyrus of Kahun (1900 BCE) and Vedic literature in ancient India offer one of the first written records of veterinary medicine. (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."

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, zoo animals or horses; or may specialize in a narrow medical discipline such as surgery, dermatology 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

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.

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