4 Reasons Why We Should Celebrate Veterinarians

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Veterinarians make important contributions to the health of animals, people, and the environment, and World Veterinary Day on the 30th of April is the perfect time to celebrate their role in our communities and the world at large.

“Veterinarians are essential healthcare workers. Their work ensures the optimal health and welfare of all animals, including companion animals, livestock, and wildlife,” says Dr. Tarryn Dent, Business Unit Lead: Companion Animals at Zoetis South Africa, a global animal health company.

Of course, as World Veterinary Day highlights, veterinarians do more than just treat animals. They are involved in food safety inspections, disease surveillance, and laboratory research. They are also at the forefront of One Health activities, which keep our animals and community healthy and safe from exotic pests and diseases.

“One Health is a movement that recognises that human, animal, and environmental health are intrinsically linked and interdependent,” says Dent. “The health of animals impacts people and vice versa, which makes working towards a sustainable and balanced ecosystem so critical for the future of our planet and communities.”

“Veterinary work is both indispensable and diverse, particularly when it comes to animal health and responding to the threat of diseases, including diseases that can spread from animals to humans. Veterinarians improve animal welfare and farm productivity, which helps to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all South Africans.”

In celebration of World Veterinary Day, here are 4 ways that veterinarians contribute to society.

1. Research and education

The research that veterinarians conduct may be about animals, but it’s crucial to humans too. Through their findings, they can find better ways to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases and they can educate the public.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to preventing the spread of zoonotic diseases, which are diseases like Ebola that spread from animals to humans. Their findings help people in society take precautionary measures to avoid being infected by such diseases.

However, pet owners understand how important their veterinarians are when it comes to advice keeping their pets healthy and diagnosing and treating any illnesses.

2. Food safety

The availability of safe food is often taken for granted, and yet veterinarians, together with other health experts, play a significant role in ensuring that we all have access to safe and healthy food.

Veterinarians are able to stipulate best farming practices and they collaborate with farmers to ensure that animals are kept in the most hygienic state.

In abattoirs, veterinarians advise on the best slaughter and food process practices for animals for consumption and they provide training, advice, and information to livestock farmers on ways they can prevent, control, and eliminate any food safety hazard.

They also ensure the effective and safe use of veterinary drugs and biological products.

3. Protection of the environment

All animals play a critical role in the ecosystem. For example, the high sense of smell that dogs have is helping researchers identify other animals and plants that could further research work. Bees are responsible for pollination – which impacts all the food we grow – and even animals like sea lions are used to travel to deep places in the ocean that are too risky for humans to monitor factors like water pressure, salinity, and temperature.

Veterinarians conduct crucial research but they also focus on how to maintain a balance that ensures animals can continue to positively impact the sustainability of the planet.

4. Public health

If food safety is concerned, veterinarians are involved. They issue health certificates to ensure that both food safety and animal health standards are maintained (which links back to how we can all rust our food sources).

“Ultimately, without veterinarians, pets would no longer enjoy the help they get when they fall sick or get injured, abused animals wouldn’t have anyone to protect their rights, humans would not be able to prevent, eliminate, or detect zoonotic diseases, and livestock farmers would be unable to access the help they need to ensure the wellbeing of their animals,” says Dent. “World Veterinary Day is a way to remember how vital the role is of one of our most essential healthcare workers.”