veterinarian /vet·er·i·nar·i·an/ (vet″er-ĭ-nar´e-an)

a person who is trained to give medical care and treatment to animals; an animal doctor; a person qualified and authorized to practice veterinary medicine; a person trained and authorized to practice veterinary medicine and surgery; a health professional who specializes in the causes and treatment of diseases and disorders of domestic and wild animals; a person who holds an academic degree in veterinary medicine; a licensed practitioner of veterinary medicine; a doctor of veterinary medicine.


1780–90;  < Latin veterīnārius,  equivalent to veterīn ( ae ) beasts of burden (noun use of feminine plural of veterīnus  pertaining to such beasts, equivalent to veter-,  stem of vetus  old, i.e., grown, able to take a load + -īnus -ine1 ) + -ārius -ary.


The Egyptian Papyrus of Kahun (1900 BCE) and Vedic literature in ancient India offer one of the first written records of veterinary medicine. (See also Shalihotra) One of the edicts of Ashoka reads: “Everywhere King Piyadasi (Asoka) made two kinds of medicine available, medicine for people and medicine for animals. Where there were no healing herbs for people and animals, he ordered that they be bought and planted.”

In Europe, the first attempts to organize and regulate the practice of treating animals tended to focus on horses because of their economic significance. In the Middle Ages, farriers combined their work in shoeing and generally caring for horses’ hooves with “horse doctoring”. In 1356, the Lord Mayor of London, concerned at the poor standard of care given to horses in the city, requested that all farriers operating within a seven mile radius of the City of London form a “fellowship” to regulate and improve their practices. This ultimately led to the establishment of the Worshipful Company of Farriers in 1674. Meanwhile, Carlo Ruini’s book Anatomia del Cavallo, (Anatomy of the Horse) was published in 1598. It was the first comprehensive treatise on the anatomy of a non-human species.

The first veterinary college in Europe had been founded in Lyon, France in 1762 by Claude Bourgelat. In the ensuing 20 years similar colleges were established in other European cities. The Veterinary College of London was founded in 1791 by a group led by Granville Penn, a grandson of William Penn. In the United States, the first veterinarians had been trained in Europe. However, Boston, New York and Philadelphia all had their own private veterinary schools by the 1850s. These urban schools concentrated primarily on the care of horses. By the turn of the 20th century, several American agricultural colleges had started their own veterinary schools which were focused on livestock animals. In 1879, Iowa Agricultural College became the first land grant college to establish a school of veterinary medicine.

“Veterinary Medicine.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 10 June 2013. Web. 27 September 2013.