Veterinary medicine is the application of medical diagnostic and therapeutic principles to companion, domestic, exotic, wildlife, and production animals.
Veterinary medicine is informally as old as the human/animal bond but in recent years has expanded exponentially because of the availability of advanced diagnostic and therapeutic techniques for most species. Veterinarians assist in ensuring the quality, quantity and security of food supplies by working to maintain the health of livestock and inspecting the meat itself. Also pets nowadays often receive advanced medical care including hip replacements, cataract surgeries, and pacemakers. This is mainly a question of how much money the pet's owner is willing to spend on their animal. The same goes for equine and bovine medicine, though from a more financial or economical aspect. For a horse that is worth a lot of money it is economic to spend money to lengthen its lifespan, whereas other animals that do not have as high an economic value may not receive expensive veterinary care. Veterinary scientists are very important in chemical, biological and pharmacological research.
In many countries, equine veterinary medicine is also a specialized field. Clinical work with horses involves mainly locomotory and orthopaedic problems, digestive tract conditions (including equine colic, which is a major cause of death among domesticated horses), and respiratory tract infections and disorders.
Education in veterinary medicine
Many universities worldwide confer undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in veterinary medicine. In most countries, veterinary practitioners are regulated and registered on a national or state level. While the duration and exact content of undergraduate degrees in veterinary medicine varies, they are typically from 4 to 7 years in duration. They consist of several introductory years which may include some "pre-vet" or general scientific training. These pre-clinical years provide a basis in veterinary anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, pathology, parasitology, animal breeding, botany, animal feeding, radiology, virology, microbiology, zoology, animal physiology, physics, chemistry and other important subject areas. The final years of most veterinary medicine degrees consist of a greater proportion of practical clinical work (Internal Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics), in which students are guided to apply the theory they have learned in a supervised environment.
While veterinary medicine is conventionally practiced distinctly from human medicine, the emerging interdisciplinary field of conservation medicine involves both, employing multidisciplinary teams that include medical doctors, veterinarians, environmental scientists, and other researchers and clinicians. In 2004, Australia's Murdoch University School of Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences started courses for a Master degree as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Veterinary Conservation Medicine.
A medical and veterinary Ask A Librarian
This Ask A Librarian (http://old.lib.ucdavis.edu/healthsci/ask.html) is for Human Medical and Health and Veterinary Information. We can help you locate print and electronic information about human and animal health.The service is free and open to all (at this time - 2/1/05). This 24/7 service is sometimes done in realtime and at others is via email. (NOTE: if/when this link ceases to work please contact: email@example.com and say the wikipedia entry needs updating).