I hope that the following time line will interest you. For me, researching this subject, has more than anything, made me very grateful to live in the modern world. As you scan the items in the time line, imagine what it must have been like to live in a place and time without modern medicine, modern sanitation, and when most pets (and many humans) died young of worms, parasites, and disease. And that was accepted as normal.
Early Chinese Writings: Traditional Chinese Medicine was practised before 1766 BC but the first medical text was the Nei Ching Su Wen (Yellow Emperor's Classic of Internal Medicine), c. 300BC. The Nei Ching detailed the AP system as well as other medical knowledge. Horses were very important and "horse priests" practised their trade from at least 1766 BC. Many texts on veterinary medicine were written in the period 221 BC to 1608 AD.
2600 BC The Egyptian Imhotep describes the diagnosis and treatment of 200 diseases
500 BC Alcmaeon of Croton distinguished veins from arteries
460 BC Birth of Hippocrates, the Greek father of medicine begins the scientific study of medicine and prescribes a form of aspirin
300 BC Diocles wrote the first known anatomy book
280 BC Herophilus studies the nervous system
Ancient Greece: Presereved writings indicate an interest in animal diseases.
Cato (c 200 BC): Roman agricultural writer who recommended the use of olive oil dregs, lupine extract and good wine for sheep scab.
130 AD Birth of Galen. Greek physician to gladiators and Roman emperors
Time of Christ: Various written records that mention the treatment of horses. Fairly detailed diagrams of horse anatomy and acupunture points from China. It is said that horse anatomy/acupuncture books in China predate human acupunture maps because horses were so much more valuable than people.
Columella: (c 70 AD) thought that it was better to get rid of suppuration with the surgeon's knife, rather than with medication, and then to wash the wound with warm ox urine and bind it up with linen bandages soaked in liquid pitch and oil. Even at this early time it was obviously appreciated that an infected wound would not heal without first removing infected tissue.
c60AD Pedanius Dioscorides writes De Materia Medica
330Byzantium. Apsyrtus mentioned as the “father of veterinary medicine” 450Rome. Vegetius books on veterinary skills was influential for years
910 Persian physician Rhazes identifies smallpox
1010 Avicenna writesThe Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine
1249 Roger Bacon invents spectacles
1350 Italy. Laurence Rusius wrote Hippiatria, a book on horse medicine that became widely circulated 200 years later (once the printing press was invented)
1490 Veterinary schools were established in Spain... much earlier than in France which is credited with the first veterinary college in the modern era. But alas, these early schools in Spain, established just before the discovery of the New World didn't last long. Note; the same fate happened to many veterinary colleges in the United States ...including 2 veterinary colleges in South Carolina ... in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Gaston Phoebus (1387-8): in his Le Livre de Chasse, devoted two chapters to the care of hounds. Wounds were not sutured and only bite wounds were treated. These were covered with raw wool drenched in olive oil, the dressings being changed every day for three days. The wound was then left open to the fresh air and the healing effect of the dog's tongue. This would have been a reasonably effective treatment as lanolin (present in raw wool) and oil have an emollient as well as a light anaesthetic and antiseptic effect.
1489 Leonardo da Vinci dissects corpses
1522 Spain. Francisco de la Reyna Book of Veterinary
1528 Vegetius, the Roman guy that wrote the book in 450AD about the art of veterinary medicine gets printed in Switzerland as Mulo-Medicina and is widely distributed
1543 Vesalius publishes findings on human anatomy in De Fabrica Corporis Humani
1565 Thomas Blundeville writes the first major English veterinary book on horses
1576 George Turbeville writes the first English book about diseases of dogs
1590 Zacharius Jannssen invents the microscope
1598 Carlo Ruini of Italy first anatomy of the horse prefacing the start of modern veterinary science... and as you'll read below, deception in the horse trading business. Now there's a shocker.
Renaissance: inventors and scientists such as Leonardo da Vinci and Ruini were just two of several contributors to the advancement of equine dentistry;
Some advancements included surgical descriptions about how to cut the lip of a horse to better accommodate the bit.
Information was passed between horse traders, farmers, and commoners.
Deception in the horse trading business exploded as owners learned how to alter their horse's dentition to mimic the tooth shapes and characteristics of younger horses. This art of creative grinding became a crime.
Leonard Mascall 1605: First Booke of Cattell; under the heading of 'Impostumes in beastes to helpe', advised to 'open the place with an yron, and when it is cut, then shall yet crush forth all the ill humour and matter therein'. He next suggested washing the wound with warm wine to cleanse it and using a mixture of 'Cherpi, (so called in French)', 'tarre' and 'oyle Olive' to 'close the sore therwith'.
1617: William Harvey of the Royal College of Physicians publicly proposed that the blood circulates in the body, pumped into the arteries by the muscular walls of the heart. His discovery of the circulatory system destroyed previous theories of the ebb and flow of blood into the vessels, and disproved the theory of the four humors. Several scholars added to Harvey's theory, Richard Lower (1631-1691) showed that blood was effected by exposure to air in the lungs. Lower also conducted some of the first blood transfusions, firstly between two dogs, and even between sheep and man.
The transfusion of blood has been practised in human medicine ever since, although with a high mortality rate. In many cases an allergic response was triggered. It was not until the compatability of blood groups was considered, and routine blood testing took place, that transfusions reached a reasonable success rate.
1628 William Harvey publishes An Anatomical Study of the Motion of the Heart and of the Blood in Animals which forms the basis for future research on blood vessels, arteries and the heart
1683 Anton van Leeuwenhoek observes bacteria.
From the1631 edition of The Whole Art of Husbandry byConrad Heresbach:
'be great and in a fleshie part, or any other part where conveniently you may, best stitch it up with a needle and redde silke, then taynte it with Terpentine, Ware, & clarified Hogges-grease of each like quantitie, and halfe so much Verdigrease"
1639 Thomas de Grey of England writes a book on horses, hereditary diseases and about common procedures done on horses.
1656 Sir Christopher Wren experiments with canine blood transfusions
1664 France. Jacques de Sollysel wrote about glanders, a bacterial disease affecting humans and other animals but a major problem in horses
1670 Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovers blood cells
From the 1676 edition of Markham's Cheap and Good Husbandry:
'Of the Imposthume in the ear, Pole-evil, Fistula, Swelling after blood-letting, any gall'd back, Canker in the Withers, Sitfast, Wens, Navel-gall, or any hollow Ulcer. ... the most certain cure is to take clay of a Mud or Lome-wall, without Lime, the straws and all, and boyling it in strong vinegar, apply it plaister-wise to the sore, and it will of its own nature search to the bottom and heal it; provided, that if you see any dead or proud flesh arise, that then you either eat or cut it away.'
1701 Giacomo Pylarini gives the first smallpox inoculations
1711 Both Giovanni Lasci of Italy and Thomas Bates of England get credit for establishing effective methods to control rinderpest, a virus that causes plague in cattle, deer, and other ruminants. Unfortunately, these methods were not used and this disease continued to cause widespread, worldwide devastation.
(In June of 2011, the United Nations FAO confirmed the disease was eradicated, making rinderpest only the second disease in history to be fully wiped out, following smallpox)
1720England. William Gibson surgeon–farrier advances humane treatments, rational medication and education. (2014 update: These are still issues today!)
1747 James Lind publishes his Treatise of the Scurvy stating that citrus fruits prevent scurvy (2014 update: I still see several scurvy cases each year in guinea pigs and reptiles, both of which, like humans and primates, need Vitamin C from their diet.)
In his Gentleman's Farriery (1764), John Bartlet refers to La Fosse, farrier to the King of France, who had had success using puff-balls to stop bleeding, a method used about 160 years previously by the German surgeon Felix Wurtz on humans.
Bartlet's recommendations were applauded by John Wood in his A New Compendious Treatise of Farriery (1752) and for a soothing ointment for irritating wounds he advised:
'Take Half a Pound of Leaf-tobacco, and boil it in a Quart of Red Wine to a Pint. Then strain off the Liquor, and add to it Half a Pound of Tobacco finely Powdered, a Pound of Hogs-lard, a Quarter of a Pound of Rosin, four Ounces of Bees-Wax, and two Ounces of the Roots of Round-Birthwort in Powder. Make these Ingredients into an Ointment.
1761: The first organized teaching on animal medicine in Lyons, France followed soon by similar schools in England, Germany, and other European countries.
1763 Claudius Aymand performs the first successful appendectomy
1776: The American Revolution
The most populous city in North America at the time is near Clemson, SC; a Cherokee Indian town who make the historical mistake of siding with the British
William Youatt (1776-1847): was a very influential veterinarian at this time who wrote books on The Horse, Cattle, Sheep, The Pig and The Dog. These works were the equivalent of modern-day textbooks, containing a wealth of information. (Dr Youatt was influential because he had a veterinary practice near the newly founded London Veterinary College... the first veterinary college in England.... and he took it on himself to teach and mentor many of the students that were drawn to his clinic. I like to think I play the same role with the many future veterinarians that work and hang out at our clinic because of our proximity to the agricultural and pre-vet school at Clemson University.)
William Buchan (1729-1805) was a Scottish physician, born at Ancrum. He practiced at Edinburgh from 1766 until 1778, when he moved to London. He published Domestic Medicine (1769), which was the first popular work of the kind, and was translated into many European languages. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
... the “average farming household held very few if any books, supposing it had members who could read… By the eighteenth century, the Bible was reputedly accompanied in every Scottish croft by William Buchan’s Domestic Medicine (1769) and a copy of Culpeper’s Herbal…
1778 James Clark of Scotland writes a notable book, introducing the concept of hygiene and advocates veterinary schools
1783England. Francis Clater writes many "horse doctor" books starting with "Every man his own farrier"
1791: the founding of the London Veterinary College:
Around this time in England, the famous racehorse Eclipse had died after an amazing and unbeaten career on the racetrack and it is worth remembering that the vast majority of racehorses today are the direct descendents of this awesome talent.
Monsieur Charles Benoit de St. Bel from the vet school in Lyon happened to be the only qualified veterinarian in the UK at that time, and was therefore asked to perform the post-mortem to ascertain the secret of Eclipse's successful life. It must have been a lonely job as the only vet in the UK so Monsieur St. Bel decided to establish a veterinary school: in Camden Town, London in 1791; four students starting the course in January (Other historicals accounts don't mention the niether the horse nor the Frenchman, but say that the college was founded with Sainbel as first Professor.)
1793 - Invention of cotton gin
1794 - Thomas Jefferson's moldboard of least resistance tested
1795 Jenner figures out that milkmaids that have had cowpox are immune to the much more deadly smallpox disease. Within a year he invents the first vaccine, perhaps the most important medical invention of all time ! There should be more statues dedicated to this man. (Note; the word vaccine comes from the Latin for Vacca or "Cow". So even though the milkmaid didn't get any credit, at least the cow did)
1796: Edward Jenner develops the process of vaccination for smallpox, the first vaccine for any disease
The invention of a smallpox vaccine was and is a BIG BIG deal, not only for the many victims like the young man in the picture above, but because this discovery eventually led to the invention of vaccines for many other diseases. We take it for granted now, but vaccines save more pets, animals, and people than anything else in medicine combined.
The British Royal Army Veterinary Service was founded in 1796 by public demand, outraged that more Army horses were being lost by ignorance and poor farriery than at the hands of the enemy.
Parliamentary debate and media attention obliged the Committee of General Officers to take positive action and the Army Veterinary Service was born ‘to improve the practice of Farriery in the Corps of Cavalry’. A Principal, Professor Edward Coleman, was appointed and graduates of the London Veterinary School, of which Coleman was the Head, began to be recruited to the regiments of cavalry.
John Shipp was the first veterinary surgeon commissioned into the Army. He joined the 11th Light Dragoons on 25 June 1796, a date now recognised as the Foundation Day of the RAVC - John Shipp Day. (The 11th Light Dragoons are famous for their sacrifice in "The Charge of the Light Brigade" in the Crimean War in the 1850's)
1797 - Charles Newbold patented first cast-iron plow
1799 Rosetta Stone discovered
1809: Scottish anatomist Allan Burns demonstrates the association of high blood pressure with angina (chest pain) and sudden death due to heart attacks (which had previously been attributed to "acts of God") The demonstration is still valid today: put a tourniquet on your bicep and then exercise the arm. It won't be long until extreme fatigue and pain sets in and the arm goes limp. Remove the tourniquet and soon all is well. This mimics what happens to the heart if coronary arteries (arteries supplying the heart with blood and nutrients) are restricted due to clogging (the most common form of severe heart disease today)
Some of the great advancements made in the 1700’s were the result of John Hunter, a Scotsman.
He left an important legacy not only by his research and writing, but through those he trained as well.
Up until this time, veterinarians consisted of mostly self-declared practitioners, farriers, blacksmiths, herdsmen, and local granny-witch doctors who were mostly illiterate.
And there was also the ethic that animals are put on this earth to serve mankind and that they were unable to feel pain as humans did.
These ideas often fostered a sense of callousness and cruelty in people who were around animals.
The more disgusting and harsh the treatment of disease the more effective people thought they would be.
Note that in many ways, human medicine was at a similar level.
in the 1700’s along with the Enlightenment, there appeared a new type of veterinary practitioner known as the surgeon-farrier.
Individuals like John Hunter were part of this emerging group.
There was a dramatic change in the type of individuals who were interested in treating animals.
These men were often physicians, surgeons or apothecaries who for various reasons turned to treating animals.
For the first time, there was an active practitioner who could write about his research, experiences, and treatment activities.
Most of the early literature focused on the horse—obviously one of the most important animals in the culture and often the most valuable.
At an early age, Hunter became an assistant to his brother William, a renowned physician, anatomist and medical educator. John became an avid anatomist and took to surgery and dissection and research with enthusiasm. After working with and learning from his brother for 12 years, he served as a surgeon in the army.
He then learned dentistry through association with the Spence family. For 30 years, until his death in 1793, Hunter examined everything from hearing in fish to dentistry.
He contributed more written work on domestic animal husbandry and veterinary science than anyone had published in the previous 125 years.
Originally most of the papers were published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, but were republished in 1792 in a compiled work “Observation on the Animal Oeconomy.”