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) 

This page covers the years up to 1800...about the time things really start to get cooking. 

Many of the items listed are about veterianry medicine which is the topic of this web site, but many of the time line items are about medicine in general, major historical events to give perspective, or listed simply because I thought they were interesting.

On Other Pages

Introduction to the History of Veterinary Medicine












Veterinary History: The 2000's   

Women & Minorities in Veterinary Medicine 

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)


Why some vets are so expensive

Abscesses The treatment of wounds, lacerations etc

Arthritis, Lameness, Joint and Bone Problems

Behavior Issues & Treatment


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.

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

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

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   
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.”