International Day of Veterinary Medicine – December 9, 2021

International Day of Veterinary Medicine is celebrated on December 9 every year. It recognizes the important work done by organizations such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) whose vision and mission is to promote a strong and unified veterinary sector that can protect animal as well as human health and welfare.

History of International Day of Veterinary Medicine

The practice of taking care of animals and preventing and curing diseases that ail them goes back all the way to the Neolithic period, which contains the first recorded evidence of a cow that had undergone trepanation, or trephination – a type of skull surgery involving the drilling of holes to treat injury or pain. ‘Horse doctoring’ was one of the first organized veterinary professions to emerge in the Arabic world in the 9th century because of the economic and military significance of horses. The horseshoe makers, or farriers, of London were even encouraged by the Lord Mayor to form a ‘fellowship’ in 1356 to improve their practice of tending to horses.

Professionalisation efforts in France received a boost after the outbreak of rinderpest among cattle, and the first veterinary school was established in 1762 by Claude Bourgelat, who is now a legend in the field. Other societies linked to agriculture and industry also played a vital role in establishing the profession of veterinary care due to the overlapping interests between the fields. Britain got its first veterinary school in 1790 while America had to wait almost a century more for the first public veterinary college offering a four-year degree in Iowa State University.

According to the latest figures published by the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are 133,394 veterinarians in the U.S. and 309,144 veterinary doctors in Europe. The profession is only growing in global significance with the rise of zoonotic diseases that spread from animals to humans.

International Day of Veterinary Medicine timeline

2nd Millennium B.C.
First Extant Record of Veterinary Medicine

The “Papyrus of Kahun” from the 12th Dynasty of Egypt is known to be the first written record of veterinary medicine still in existence.

3rd Century B.C.
A Treatise on Horse Medicine

During the rule of Emperor Ashoka in India, a treatise titled “Shalihotra Samhita” records that “Everywhere King Piyadasi (Ashoka) made two kinds of medicine available, medicine for people, and medicine for animals”.

1762
The First Veterinary School is Established

Rinderpest, or cattle plague, sweeps through Europe in the 18th century and gives Claude Bourgelat the opportunity to open the first veterinary school in Lyon, France.

1863
American Veterinary Medical Association

Practitioners from seven states in the U.S. convenes to form The United States Veterinary Medical Association (USVMA), which becomes AVMA in 1898.

International Day of Veterinary Medicine FAQs

What are some of the trends in veterinary medicine?

Digitization has caught up with the sector as well. Ear tags and smart collars for livestock can monitor temperature, movement, and even catch early signs of disease by tracking their appetite. There are also sound diagnostic tools that can monitor respiratory illnesses and intelligent applications for prediction apart from advances in vaccine technology.  

What are some of the latest advances in pet care?

Pet wearables can now monitor mood, track exercise, and diagnose disease. Similarly, telemedicine is making healthcare access easier for people with animals. There is also a growing interest in fruit, plant, and insect proteins and sustainability in the pet food sector.    

What jobs can I get if I study veterinary sciences?

There are many options in the field. Apart from studying to be a medical professional, job roles encompass nutrition, physiotherapy, ecology, research, writing, and so on. 

How To Observe International Day of Veterinary Medicine

  1. Schedule a health check-up for your pet

    If you have pets at home but have been neglecting to take them to the pet clinic or hospital for their annual visit, now is the time to schedule it. Once they are examined, vaccinated, and groomed for the new year, maybe it is time for you to book a health check-up yourself! As they say, prevention is better than cure.

  2. Thank your veterinary doctor

    Veterinary doctors perform a vital job without the recognition bestowed on a human doctor. Even if it’s not a thankless job, they are definitely thanked less than other doctors so it’s not a bad idea to set the record straight today. Send them a note or a card expressing your gratitude for their service.

  3. Visit a pet adoption center close to you

    If you have never had a pet, you are missing out. As Anatole France said, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened”. Even if you have had pets before but don’t have one currently, you can consider visiting your local animal shelter or adoption center. Take the plunge again and make room for a lovable critter.

5 Facts About Veterinary Medicine

  1. Bourgelat also started with horses

    The founder of the first veterinary school was first the director of the Lyon Academy of Horsemanship.

  2. Cows helped cure cervical cancer

    Research on cattle diseases led to the development of a vaccine against the Human Papilloma Virus, which causes cervical cancer in women.

  3. Poultry catalyzed the cancer cure

    Similarly, a vaccine developed for the poultry sector was also the first anti-cancer vaccine for humans.

  4. Pets improve our health

    There are now many studies that show decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and risk of stroke among families with pet animals.

  5. Zoonotic diseases are rising

    60% of emerging diseases among humans are zoonotic or transmitted by animals, especially wildlife.

Why International Day of Veterinary Medicine Is Important

  1. Animal health is linked to human health

    Many medicinal breakthroughs in the veterinary field have helped improve human healthcare and treatment. Apart from vaccines, even organ transplants were first developed in animal care, and of course, pet animals have great therapeutic abilities.

  2. Animal disease is linked to human disease

    We need to be more vigilant about animal health, welfare, and engagement if we are to ensure a healthy human population. Ebola, Zika, and SARS all have animal origins and more diseases are likely in the future if we don’t alter the way we deal with animals.

  3. Veterinarians deserve recognition

    Despite the clear linkages with human health, animal doctors are sidelined in the medical profession and are not seen as equal to medical practitioners focused on humans. This discrimination has to end and veterinarians must be recognized for serving a vital function in the healthcare sector as a whole.

International Day of Veterinary Medicine dates

YearDateDay
2021December 9Thursday
2022December 9Friday
2023December 9Saturday
2024December 9Monday
2025December 9Tuesday

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