Since the development of veterinary anesthesia as an independent discipline in veterinary health care during the 1960s and 1970s, the science and art of anesthesia and pain management in animals has much matured.
The Association of Veterinary Anaesthetists (AVA) was established in 1964 by a group of veterinarians in the United Kingdom who intended to promote the usage, research, and study of anesthesia in veterinary medicine.
In 1975, the American College of Veterinary Anesthesiologists (ACVA) as predecessor of the American College of Veterinary Anesthesia & Analgesia (ACVAA) was founded as the first North American veterinary specialty organization establishing guidelines for training of veterinarians in anesthesia and pain management following the established model of the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).
In 1993 the European sister organization, the College of Veterinary Anaesthesia & Analgesia (ECVAA) was launched to regulate qualifications in veterinary anesthesia in Europe, followed in 1996 by the Academy of Veterinary Technician Anesthetists (AVTA) and in 2003 by The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) as a unique organization dedicated to promoting, enhancing, and advancing pain management in animals.
Many other veterinary specialty disciplines such as surgery, internal medicine, neurology, emergency and critical care, radiology and diagnostic imaging, interventional radiology, oncology, dentistry, and dermatology have evolved over the same time period and dramatically changed animal health care in the 21st century.
These specialists today already offer their services in many academic and private referral centers and increasingly rely on advanced anesthesia and pain care as part of their services.
In parallel, the public awareness and expectation in both North-America and Europe has grown in regard to the need for quality anesthesia and analgesia care in animals suffering from pain as a result of disease and/or veterinary interventions.
Accordingly, the ACVAA, American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the German Equine Veterinary Association (GEVA), the AVA and other veterinary organizations across the globe have developed in recent years standards or guidelines for anesthetic and pain management of small animals and/or horses that members are expected to follow.
Also much concern exists among the general public as to adequate anesthesia and pain management in animals undergoing ever more sophisticated laboratory research.
Notwithstanding increasing expectations of improved anesthesia & analgesia care within the veterinary community itself and the general public at large and regardless of the before mentioned standards/guidelines that call for adequately trained personnel delivering anesthesia & analgesia care, up to date formal training programs in basic and advanced veterinary anesthesia and analgesia for veterinary nurses/technicians and young postgraduates, are sparse even though they are the ones most frequently charged with delivering anesthesia care to animals undergoing diagnostic, surgical, or experimental procedures in the non-academic (private sector) and research laboratory setting.
Various organizations including the ACVAA, AVA, and German Veterinary Practioner Organization have recognized this problem and are currently calling for solutions to fill this apparent training gap.
Though growing, the number of veterinary anesthesia & analgesia specialists continues to be too small to broadly cover services in the private veterinary sector. In addition, worldwide the vast majority of veterinary anesthesiologists continue to serve in veterinary teaching hospitals rather than in the private or research setting. Here technological advancements in electronic data transfer as they are already now used in telemedicine and sophistication of audiovisual communication technology opens already now and even more so in the near future avenues to deliver advanced anesthesiologist expertise, when and where private practices need them.