The History of
Veterinary Medicine
by Roger Ross, DVM
On This Page:


An Introduction to the History of Veterinary Medicine

The word amateur comes from the Latin root word "to love".  An amateur is someone who does something out of love as opposed to a professional who does things for money.

I'm an amateur historian. And in the sense that I love veterinary medicine as well as animals, I am both an amateur and a professional veterinarian.

These pages about the history of veterinary science are mostly in the form of time lines from the notes I have taken over the years.  But there are also lots of comments, articles, and a few historical surprises that I hope you will find interesting.

Toward the bottom of this page I credit and thank all the authors of books and other websites from whom I have liberally copied bits and pieces of information.

I hope you enjoy.

On Other Pages

Time Line of major or interesting events before 1800

1800-1850

1850-1880

1880-1900

1900-1910

1910-1920

1920-1950

1950's    

1960's    

1970's    

1980's    

1990's

Veterinary History: The 2000's   
 
Also

Women & Minorities in Veterinary Medicine 


A very interesting profile of the very first female veterianry students from Cornell's website

Wars that started because of pigs   

The interesting battle against Hoof and Mouth Disease on the Mexican Border,   
Black Leg Disease, and Anthrax

A short history of Biological Warfare

History of Antibiotics including the critical role played by the Pfizer Company

A little history about some milestones in treating heart disease

Veterinary History of South Carolina

A history of the Pet Food Industry

On Our Other Pages
(not about History)

Home/Contents

Why some vets are so expensive

Abscesses The treatment of wounds, lacerations etc

Arthritis, Lameness, Joint and Bone Problems

Behavior Issues & Treatment

Birds

Bladder & Kidney Problems Infections, Stones, Crystals, Incontinence

Blood Disorders; Strokes, Vascular Diseases, Anemias, DVT, DIC, Blood Parasites, Rat Poison, Bleeding disorders etc

Cancer; Masses, Lumps and Bumps.  Surgical Treatment of Masses

Cats: Fun or interesting stuff about cats and a discussion about the diseases common in our feline companions to include Leukemia, Feline AIDS, & Cat Scratch Fever.

Cats that just aren't feeling well

Dentistry Discussion about the great importance of gum health and Oral Hygiene.

Diabetes
About the diagnosis and treatment of this very common problem in both cats and dogs

Dogs:  a hodge podge page of stuff about dogs.

Ear Problems
How I treat ear mites, ear allergies, aural hematomas, and ear infections.  This is my forte.

Eye Problems  and Ophthalmic Diseases Including:
Cataracts, Corneal Ulcers, Ingrown Lashes, Disautomia, Retinal problems, and Excessive Tearing

Exotics:  Pocket Pets, Rabbits, Hamsters and other little creatures

Heart disease; Cardiac diseases, vascular diseases, Stroke, heartworm treatment and prevention

History of Veterinary Medicine; lots of interesting stuff    

History of the Discovery of Antibiotics

The Human-Animal Bond
Comments & Stories about this topic close to my heart

Infectious Diseases  Colds, Distemper, Parvo, Lepto, Bruceellosis, Panleukopenia, Feline AIDS, Leukemia, Hepatitis, Kennel Cough, Ringworm, Rabies, FIP, Canine Herpes, Toxic Shock Syndrome, & More

Insurance:
Why I like and recommend Pet Insurance

Intestinal problems:diarrhea, constipation, torsion, indigestion, and gas.  Parvo, Dysentery

Kidney Diseases

Lab Tests; what they tell us

Liver Diseases     

Medications/Pharmacy Page

Metabolic Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's, Addison's, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease

Neural Problems and Diseases: Epilepsy, Rabies, Distemper, FIP, Paralysis, Tetanus, Seizures, Disc Disease, Toxoplasmosis & others

Nutrition & Diet: General information
Including a surprise; who makes the diet your pet is eating?

Nutrition: Therapeutic Prescription Diets used to Treat Diseases To Include:
Diabetes, Diseases of the Gastro-Intestinal Tract, Heart Disease, Joint Diseases, Skin problems, Weight problems, Urinary Tract problems, and Kidney Disease.

Parasite Problems; Fleas, Ticks, Heartworms, Intestinal Worms, Mosquitos, Lice, Mites, and other welfare recipients

Poisons  Snakes, Insects, household chemicals, plants, and foods that might poison your pet

Reproduction/Sex/Babies
Discussion about problems related to the reproductive tract such as uterine infections, False Pregnancy, lack of milk, Infection of the mammary glands and trouble giving birth.  But also fun stuff like new born care. Aso about undescended testicles.

Respiratory Diseases

Senior Pet Page: Geriatric Medicine

Skeletal-Muscular Problems Arthritis, Fractures, ACL, Ligament Injuries, Disc Disease, Pannus, and many other problems of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments

Skin Problems: allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems

Surgery: Spays, Castrations, Testicle Recipes, Soft Tissue Surgery, Hard Tissue Surgery (Bones), C- Sections, Declawing, Tumor Removal and Cancer Surgery

Wounds, punctures, injuries, and abscesses

Urinary Tract Diseases and Problems

Vaccine and other preventive health recommendations

WildLife Page:  Taking care of baby bunnies, squirrels, and birds.  A very funny story about beavers, and other misc information

Zoonotics: Diseases People get from Pets, Worms & other Parasites People get from Pets.



On Our Other Sites

About  Our No Kill Shelter   

About Our  Veterinary Clinic  
























Home; Animal Pet Doctor    Our Veterinary Hospital in beautiful Seneca, South Carolina    Our No-Kill Shelter
There are many more links to our other pages below on your left      May the Peace of the Lord Be With You


Introduction

The mental image of a veterinarian as being a bright and earnest young woman caring for pets is a very recent phenomenon:  Most veterinarians graduating from veterinary schools over the last 10 plus years have been women.

But women veterinarians were rare as recently as 30 years ago.

And veterinarians that treated pets exclusively were rare ... and considered somewhat sissy...as little as 50 years ago.

But now most veterinarians earn their living taking care of pet dogs, cats, and horses.
Dogs, cats, and horses that are so pampered and loved that they are treated like family members that sleep in our beds.  Well, not the horses.  And no expense is spared.

Prior to World War II,  very few people would consider paying more than a token amount for the medical care of their pets any more than the average person today would consider taking an injured chipmunk to the vet. 

And prior to World War I, it probably wouldn't have done much good to take your sick or injured pet to the vet:  Antibiotics were yet to be developed.  Dependable anesthetics weren't available.  Surgical skills were minimal and crude.  Most of what we take for granted today was not yet invented.

Prior to World War I, cars and trucks were relatively rare and people and goods were transported by oxen, horses and mules.  Lots of mules.























More than half our population worked on farms to raise food.

When countries went to war, hundreds of thousands of horses and mules went to war as well.  So did thousands of dogs.

People were in close contact with farm animals on a daily basis, and where ever there are cattle, horses, hogs, sheep, and poultry there is feed and foddor, manure, and filth.

And this means rodents, flies, ticks, lice, and fleas.

So, while people "in the old days" were much more likely to have close and intimate relationships with a variety of animals ... even in urban areas ... than people today, that relationship was usually more practical and functional than loving.

Animals, including dogs and cats were considered a source of filth, pestilence, and disease best kept out of the house.




And then came the amazing cultural shocks, revelations, and changes of the 1800's.

-Darwin

-Slavery, which was prevalent world wide for centuries is ended, for the most part starting in northern Europe and then in the Americas.

-The American and French Revolutions took place just before the 1800's, but the end result of the French Revolution was Napoleon. 

Because of Napoleon, millions of people were slaughtered, most of Europe and much of the western world was left staggering, wounded, and often rearranged. France and especially Spain were left so weak that their extensive empires would soon brake apart as one colony after another exploded in revolution after revolution.

-Britain's empire would remain mostly intact (with the huge exception of the United States) during this century, but it too, would soon collapse as one nation after another in Asia, India, and Africa fought for independence.
























Meanwhile, on the scientific front there was

-Pasteurization

-Canned food that lasted for years

-Refridgeration

-Germ theory and the confirmation that epidemics are indeed often associated with the rodents and parasites that are a part of being in close contact with animals.

-The beginnings of modern medical practice

- And invention after invention. Discovery after discovery.
 
-And one amazing advance after another in our understanding of disease and our ability to fight and control it. 

Modern man has no inkling of how many people died before reaching 40 due to disease prior to the advent of modern medicine, modern sanitation, modern food storage and handling, and the development of vaccines, antibiotics, anesthesia, modern medicines, and modern surgical and treatment techniques.  NO IDEA AT ALL.


Maiwand, Afghanistan - the last stand of the 66th; the dog in the painting is Bobbie, the mascot of the British 2nd Battalion, of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, the only survivor of the battle of Maiwand in 1880, during the British 2nd Afghan War. Bobbie received the Afghan Medal from Queen Victoria the following year in 1881; he died the year after, run down by a cab.



Thanks & Recognition:

These pages about the history of veterinary medicine are NOT a serious adedemic endeavor: most of the information is simply material I found pertinent and more or less copied and organized into a timeline style outline.

Credit, thanks, and recognition deserves to go to:

John Clewlow
BVSc, MPhil, MRCVS
Editor, Veterinary History (the journal of The Veterinary History Society)
1 St James Court, Grange Park Drive Biddulph, Staffordshire, ST8 7XX, UK

Kevin Easley

K-9 History Website: The Dogs of War

The University of London Veterinary College Museum

The Iowa State Veterinary
School Museum

The History of Iowa State Veterinary Hospital
written by Donald Adams, DVM

The USDA

Susan D Jones; author of a superb book about the history of American Veterinary Medicine called
"Valuing Animals".

This book focuses on our society's changing outlook and relationship with animals over the last 150 years. 

I don't agree with some of her seemingly queer theory-feminist implications that early veterinarians were male sexist pigs motivated mostly by economic greed and political power complicit in our culture's use of animal body products.

(I think she means meat)

However, having made these critical comments, please note:

1.  She's an expert; both a professor of history and a onetime practicing veterinarian.  I'm strictly an amateur historian.

2.  I may be misinterpeting her viewpoints unfairly and, besides, she may be right.

Indeed, I think she's mostly right.  For example, I'm sure that most vets in the early 1900's were in fact male chauvanists who believed that veterinary practice was unsuitable for women. 

What I disagree about is the significance:  So what?  This chauvanistic attitude was the norm for the times in most professions...not an indication that the veterianary profession was especially evil or flawed. 

It's certainly a situation that was quickly corrected; the profession is now dominated by exceptional women who as far as I can tell are motivated by the same things as their male counterparts: service to the animal, medical, and food-livestock industies, a love of animals, economic survival, and so forth.

3.  Whatever your feelings on such matters, the book is excellent, thoughtful, and fair.   I've liberally used her material as a source for the timeline and comments on these pages.  Enjoy.

4.  Her book is available from Amazon.


And many thanks to veterinarian James Porter for his 1956 book about American Veterinarians combatting foot and mouth disease in Mexico.

Veterinarians, along with animal and plant biologists, and certainly physicians ...first in Europe in the 1800's and later dominated by Americans in the 1900's, played a major role in the development of modern disease control and treatment.  It's an exciting story.


Very early veterinarians were mainly concerned with the care of livestock and horses and mules.

But by the 1890's, many veterinarians were involved in figuring out and controlling those diseases that affect humans and our food supply:

In 1891, Dr. Leonard Pearson initiated the tuberculosis testing of cattle to help stop the spread of this disease to both man and other cattle.























Dr. Evan Stubbs isolated the avian influenza organism.

Dr. Karl F. Meyer saved America' s canning industry by developing a method to prevent botulism.

Veterinarians helped to create the Bureau of Animal Industry which played a very important role in protecting the American livestock and assuring the safety of the food supply. 

Veterinarians have been at the forefront of controlling many major diseases:

-Rabies

-Hog Cholera 

-Hoof & Mouth Disease

-Tuberculosis. 

-Brucellosis

-and many more.  I will mention many of these diseases again in the following pages.

Veterinarians have been involved with experimental medicine and surgery throughout the 1900's.  Whenever a new technique or surgery was being developed or tried, it was often done on animals first ...for better or worse...and veterinarians were there.

Veterinarians are the vanguard of our modern food inspection services.  Recently our media went "ape" when one cow with "Mad Cow Disease" was detected entering the US.  That cow was quickly detected and isolated BECAUSE of a well run livestock and food inspection service staffed and run by veterinarians and agricultural scientists.!

They have been instrumental in the development of organ transplantation, transgenics, and almost every other important medical development.


Veterinarians in the United States Armed Forces and The Center for Disease Contorl help to assure the security of our nation and are essential in the efforts to protect us from the threat of bioterrorism.

Throughout the developing world, you will find veterinarians alongside of agricultural scientists helping less advanced nations to maintain safe water supplies, to control parasitism, and to develop safer and more reliable food supplies.

In more recent years, advances in pet animal medicine have allowed our pets to live significantly longer, healthier, and more comfortable lives.

When one looks at all of the contributions that have been made to our society by the veterinary profession, it quickly becomes obvious that those contributions touch almost every aspect of our lives and that our lives have been improved by those contributions.

Imagine the miracles to come.
Roger Ross, DVM






Sir Ronald Ross
In 1902 my ancestor, a British Army physcian, polymath, and founder of the Ross Institute of Tropical Diseases won the nobel prize for identifying the life cycle of malaria and more importantly identified the mosquito as the carrier.  Think how many lives that discovery saved.

He was involved in the medical aspects of  big projects in the 1800's all over the world, including the Suez Canal.

His father was Sir Campbell Ross, Major General of the British Army in India.
The picture above is the 1st state veterinary college founded in the United States.  (The building has been remodeled since 1903 when it was first built).  Cornell, a private University taught veterinary classes as early as 1865 and founded a separate veterinary college in 1894.   Canada established the first veterinary school in North America at Guelph, Ontario in 1862.  And the Spanish Empire had a veterinary college in Mexico City before that.  Lyons, France 1762, is credited with establishing the first college of veterinary medicine in the modern era.
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"What To Expect When You Go To The Vet"
if your pet should have a problem with ...

Abscesses, wounds, and injuries

Arthritis, Lameness, Fractures, and Ligament Injuries
To include Femoral Head Removal, Hip Dysplasia, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries, Panosteitis, Radiographic Demonstrations, Disc Disease, and Bone Surgery

Bladder, Urinary Tract, & Kidney Problems

Blood Diseases, Anemias etc
Strokes, Vascular Diseases, Anemias, DVT, DIC, Blood Parasites, Rat Poison, & Bleeding disorders

Cancer, Masses, Lumps and Bumps

Cardiology  Heart disease in Cats, Cardiac Hypertrophy, Valvular disease, Cardiac Insufficiency, Congestive Heart Failure, Heartworm Disease, and a little history about the milestones in treating heart disease

Cats: general information page and directory of diseases and problems specific to cats including vaccine recommendations, leukemia, feline viral infections, feline upper respiratory disease and cats that just aren't feeling well.

Dentistry and problems of the mouth and throat

Dermatology: Skin problems including allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems

Diabetes

Ear Infections and Other Ear Problems

Eye Problems  and Ophthalmic Diseases

Exotics:  Pocket Pets, Rabbits, Hamsters etc

Fleas, Ticks, and other parasite problems

Heart disease; Cardiac diseases, vascular diseases, stroke, & heartworms

Hormone Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease

Infectious Diseases  Colds, Distemper, Parvo, Leptospirosis, Bruceellosis, Panleukopenia, Feline AIDS, Leukemia, Hepatitis, Kennel Cough, Ringworm, Rabies, FIP, Canine Herpes, Toxic Shock Syndrome, & More

Intestinal problems: diarrhea, constipation, torsion, indigestion, and gas. Also pancreatitis, vomiting, esophagitis, colitis, parvo and other types of dysentery

Kidney Disease

Liver Diseases     

Metabolic Diseases: Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Cushing's Disease or Hypercortisolism, Addison's disease or Hypocortisolism, Pancreatitis, obesity as a disease

Neural Problems and Diseases: Epilepsy, Rabies, Distemper, FIP, Paralysis, Tetanus, Seizures, Disc Disease, Toxoplasmosis & others

Obesity; new information and about Pfizer's new FDA approved treatment

Pancreatitis

Parasite Problems Fleas, Ticks, Heartworms, Intestinal Worms, Mosquitos, Lice, Mites, and other welfare recipients

Poisons  Snakes, Insects, household chemicals, plants, and foods that might poison your pet

Respiratory Diseases

Senior Pet Page: Geriatric Medicine

Skeletal-Muscular Problems Arthritis, Fractures, ACL, Ligament Injuries, Disc Disease, Pannus, and many other problems of the bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments

Skin Problems: allergies, rashes, bacterial infections, and itching. Hair Loss, Yeast Infections, Hormonal Problems

Surgery: Spays, Castrations, Testicle Recipes, Soft Tissue Surgery, Hard Tissue Surgery (Bones), C- Sections, Declawing, Tumor Removal and Cancer Surgery

Wounds, punctures, injuries, and abscesses

Urinary Tract Diseases and Problems


Other Topics on This Site

The Human-Animal Bond

History of Veterinary Medicine; lots of interesting stuff    

Zoonotics: Diseases, worms, and parasites people get from pets.

Lab Tests and what they tell us

Medications/Pharmacy Page

Nutrition & Diets
Includes information about Prescription diets used to treat disease, and a discussion about the pet food industry

Reproduction, breeding, & rearing information
Includes information about feline and canine heat or estrus, breeding, C-Sections, pyometra or Infected Uterus, dystocia, no milk, mastitis, & brucellosis
Also newborn care, undescended testicles, and alternative to spaying and castration

Vaccine and other preventive health recommendations

WildLife Page:  Taking care of baby bunnies, squirrels, and birds.  A very funny story about beavers, and other misc information

Our Dog Page:  a directory of problems of concern in dogs including parvovirus, distemper, canine herpes, and other diseases

Veterinary Pet Insurance