When people think of the medical field, most people overlook the veterinarians who keep our best animal friends alive and well, and they need quality surgical equipment just like the rest of the field. What you might not know is that the evolution of veterinary medicine is not as old as the human race, and the practice did not start with caring for domesticated pets.

In fact, one could argue that the field of animal medicine originated in the farm paddocks of the Middle East, where farmers had to care for both the sheep they shepherded and the herding dogs that ran alongside them. From this modest beginning sprouted an entire medicinal practice that evolved alongside human medicine, and in this blog post we’re going to briefly take a journey through this transformation.

The Earliest Days: Salves and Fragments

From what historians can piece together, the practice of administering medical care to animals did indeed begin in the fields of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where shepherds passed knowledge to one another. Sheepdogs were a valuable resource, and sheep their livelihood, therefore they worked to keep these crucial animals alive until they could be sold.

The next hint as to the changes in animal medicine appears in 4000 to 3000 BC in Egypt. In the days when this civilisation reigned powerful, they contributed so much to the base of knowledge we all have today. Egyptians were also extremely fond of felines, domesticating them and praising them as deities in the household and caring for them with salves and herb-based remedies. Medical instruments like the ones we know today were non-existent—the scalpel alone was not invented until the early 1900. However, tools like the mortar and pestle are featured prominently.

In fact, the Egyptians left one of the largest collections of early knowledge behind in the form of the Kahun Papyri (dated 1825 BC), which have been gathered by historians and painstakingly pieced together. In 1889, following the discovery of the papyri, these historians discovered an entire branch of the texts dedicated to the medicinal diagnosis and treatment of animals such as dogs, fish, birds, and even cattle.

Breaking into Modernity: Medical Instruments and Schools

These pieces of history serve to show that animal medicine is certainly not new, but the actual field of veterinary medicine did not come into existence until 1761 in Lyon, France. The very first veterinarian school was founded there by Claude Bourgelat, mainly to teach students how to treat livestock diseases, as well as to prevent the spread of epizootic diseases, particularly in cattle and horses.

Happily, the creation of a recognised veterinary medical field resulted in the continued invention of improved medical instruments that would help vets to achieve greater success. Some examples of these instruments are:

  • Xenon lamps. Much like the evolution of human medicine, veterinary medicine’s transformation was aided by peripheral instruments like the xenon lamp. They illuminate the OR, allowing surgeons to operate with perfect clarity and at any time of the day or night without tiring their eyes.
  • Cholangiogram forceps. These are used to secure catheters when operating on gallbladders or bile ducts, and you can find either single-use or steel versions. The use of these instruments encouraged non-invasive treatment, which in turn creates better recovery times and patient outcomes.
  • Headlight-mounted cameras. These give surgeons a clear and illuminated field of view no matter where they look, and can magnify the field for more delicate operations.

The modern-day veterinarian cares for everything from cows to cockatoos, and with these tools of the trade (and many more) at their disposal, they’ll continue to be the ones we go to for help saving our best friends.

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