Historical overview of canine medicine in France

par François VALLAT*

*Dr vétérinaire, Dr en Histoire, email. francoisvallat@hotmail.com

The uses made of dog were mainly responsible for the evolution of Canine medicine. Treatment of canine diseases, after being virtually ignored by the ancient authors, was developed from the Middle Ages to the 18th Century mainly for hounds, and in the 19th Century for all hunting dogs, and for animal shows. Only the increase in living standards has led to a real medicalization since the 1960s. Following the identical progression to that of horses and ruminants, canine medical expertise is passed from the owner to the vet, but with an understandable delay: the dog did not meet any vital need, such as transportation or war, while in agriculture, its existence is confined to the role of guarding. Used by his masters to hunt or simply as companionship, his prolificacy gave little incentive to pay to extend his brief existence. The late arrival of canine medicine has followed the economic boom of the postwar years. The feline clinic and the “new pets” have experienced or are still experiencing a similar evolution. An insert summarizes the history of Distemper.

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