Veterinary medicine is the branch of science that deals with the application of medical, surgical, public health, dental, diagnostic, and therapeutic principles to non-human animals, including wildlife and domesticated animals, including livestock, working animals, and companion animals. Practitioners of veterinary medicine are known as veterinarians. In most developed countries, veterinarians are highly qualified professionals with advanced educations.
Veterinary science helps human health through the monitoring and control of zoonotic disease (infectious disease transmitted from non-human animals to humans, and veterinary scientists often collaborate with epidemiologists.
A pillar in Vaishali, India, displaying edicts of Emperor Asoka (272—231 BCE); the pillar records King Asoka building hospitals for both humans and animals.
"The Simplicity Equine," a portable operating table for horses used by the field veterinarians of the US Army Signal Corps in World War I
An injured horse being secured to the vertically oriented table
With the table rotated to its horizontal orientation and supported by a drum on one side and folding cot-like legs on the other, a veterinarian operates on a horse.
The Egyptian Papyrus of Kahun (1900 BCE) and Vedic literature in ancient India offer the first written records of veterinary medicine. (See also Shalihotra) One of the edicts of Ashoka reads: "Everywhere King Piyadasi (Asoka) erected two kinds of hospitals, hospitals for people and hospitals for animals. Where there were no healing herbs for people and animals, he ordered that they be bought and planted." The Talmud does state that no mares were exported from Egypt in Roman times without being subjected to a hysterectomy, which tend to prove that successful surgery was implemented in such an early period.
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