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What made the biggest impact?

27 Mar, 13 | by sarahbrown

Veterinary Record is 125 years old this year!

125 year banner

To mark the occasion, we have compiled a list of 10 developments that have had a significant impact on or been significantly impacted by the veterinary profession. To find out more and cast your vote, go to our anniversary website and you will also be in with the chance of winning an iPad mini!

Here are our 10 developments – click through to see some of our relevant publications for free.

Eradication of rinderpest

Rinderpest, also known as cattle plague, was the first animal disease to have been eradicated through human effort and, after smallpox, the second disease to be eradicated worldwide.

Developments in anaesthesia and analgesia

From on a wing and a prayer to maximum control, developments in drugs and their administration have improved the welfare of all animals after trauma or undergoing surgery or medical treatment.

UK foot-and-mouth disease outbreak (2001)

Important economic, social and political lessons in disease control were learned during and in the immediate aftermath of the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak of 2001.

Diagnostic imaging

The ability to see inside patients without having to perform surgery has had significant implications for the diagnosis and treatment of animals, in practice and the field.

Emergence and control of BSE

Restrictions on animal feed from 1988 onwards did much to control this disease, but the consequences of BSE continue to impact on cattle practice and food safety regulations.

Recognition of One Health

The ‘One Health’ concept is starting to come of age by offering insights into the prevention and control of neglected zoonoses, such as rabies, and opening up new avenues for clinical research.

Specialisation in practice

With the growth of specialist, referral and corporate practices, the level of service provided is being affected and, possibly, the nature of the profession itself.

Introduction of the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS)

The launch of PETS in 2000, marked a significant change in the  UK’s approach to preventing rabies.

Growth of the Internet and e-learning

The internet has meant that anyone, not only vets, can have ready access to animal health information. Social media and the web have also enhanced communication between vets, their colleagues and their clients.

Effective antibiotics and anthelmintics

Antibiotics and anthelmintics have had a huge impact on both human and animal health. More recently, concerns over resistance to these treatments have and will continue to affect the way that products are being used.


What do you think of our 10 influential moments? Do you agree or do you have some suggestions of your own? Post your comments below!

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  • abigail woods

    I don’t think there’s much thought gone into this. If you really want to know about what the vet profession had an impact on, or was impacted by, then you need to go beyond a narrow technical skill set to think about society and politics. How about vets’ contributions to the health of horses up to and including WWI? Or their contribution to the milk supply in WWII? Or the 1881 / 1948 veterinary surgeons acts which restricted the title and then the practice of veterinary medicine to qualified vets? Or the 1919 / 1979 legislation against sexual discrimination which first allowed women to enter the profession and then to achieve parity with men. In any case, the really interesting issues are not about what impacted, but how and why. Why not ask the Vet History Society next time you want to draw up a historical list?

  • Jonathan Wray

    Back in 2005 I wrote a letter to the VR and an extract from it reads

    “..In companion animal general practice over the past 20 years, there has been change, and if I were to reflect on a top 10 most significant changes for me they would be, in no particular order: the development of effective and safe ectoparasiticides; the recognition of and treatment for feline hyperthyroidism; the development of computerised practice management systems; the need to comply with new legislation in respect of health and safety and employment law and medicines; a rise in client expectation; year-on-year change in client and pet numbers with the knock-on effect on the business plan; the development of new fixation systems for fractures seen in everyday practice; the development of safe and potent non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs; the development of nutritional support for clinical disease; and the development of formal management systems..”

    What you are offering as the ten most significant things in my world, which spans a thirty year career in general practice doing what most of the profession do, i.e. companion animal practice, doesn’t correlate with your list.
    How can I possibly comment on your list?

  • disqus_3r3A4UBOMY

    One immediate thought of one momentous change that you have omitted would be the development and formalisation of the Veterinary Nurse and her career within practice at all levels. Without our qualified nurses the animals we treat, the veterinary surgeons doing the treating, and the animal owning public would be so much the poorer.

    George Cooper

  • sbrownvet

    Good comments, thank you. Please keep them coming.
    The development of the veterinary nurse across the disciplines and how the profession has changed for women over the years were certainly on our long list among others; it was very difficult to choose only 10! We’ve chosen a number of areas that have had an impact on small animal practice but we couldn’t ignore other sectors of the profession.

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