How is science involved in a vet's job?

Written by stephanie fagnani
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How is science involved in a vet's job?
Veterinarians use microscopes to search blood for parasites and other abnormalities. (science image by guy from Fotolia.com)

Scientific discoveries coupled with technological advances are helping veterinarians diagnose, treat and contain various diseases that impact all types of animals, from domestic hamsters to wild Tasmanian devils. By studying and researching the links between animal health and certain diseases, veterinarians are increasingly able to prolong the life of many cherished pets while also protecting pet owners from transmittable illnesses.

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Types

Veterinarians rely on science equipment like magnetic resonance imagining (MRI), ultrasound and endoscopy to diagnose internal maladies in domestic pets, farm animals and those bred for human consumption. Scientific equipment is also used prominently in research facilities to examine blood cell composition and to calculate the probability of disease transmission. Science is also used by veterinary pharmacists when compounding drug mixtures and determining the proper dosage for different animals based on their biological and chemical characteristics.

Significance

Veterinarians that work in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration apply scientific principles when inspecting food supplies for safety. They examine livestock to make sure they do not have any transmissible diseases. All veterinarians also help to maintain the health of animals by determining what kinds of food they each need to consume to obtain the proper amount of specific vitamins and minerals.

History

Veterinarians have worked together with physicians and scientists to research ways to prevent and treat various human health problems for many years. In fact, according to the Sloan Career Cornerstone Center website, they helped to conquer malaria and yellow fever, solved the mystery of botulism, produced an anticoagulant used to treat some people with heart disease, and defined and developed surgical techniques for humans, such as hip and knee joint replacements or limb and organ transplants.

Considerations

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veterinarians are usually required to complete a course of study that emphasises the sciences. Typical classes would include organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, biochemistry, general biology, animal biology, animal nutrition, genetics, vertebrate embryology, cellular biology, microbiology, zoology, and systemic physiology. Some veterinary medical colleges also require mathematical courses like calculus, statistics, college algebra and trigonometry.

Potential

Veterinarians are making progress in diagnosing and determining the causes of cancer in both domestic and wild animals through scientific studies that examine the influence of human pollutants on habitat. According to the article "Cancer Kills Wild Animals Too" published on the Live Science website, certain viruses have been found to cause cancerous genital tumours in California sea lions and Burmeister's porpoises, for example.

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