What is Veterinary Anatomy?

The anatomy of animals is the branch of biology concerned with the study of the form and structure of the specific individual. Here, the article will answer the question – ‘what is veterinary anatomy?’ with an example.

Quick answer: veterinary anatomy, the branch of anatomy, deals with the form and structure of the principal domesticated animals and birds. It has three significant branches: gross, microscopic, and developmental or embryology.

Here, I will define vet anatomy with its major and minor branches. You will also understand why this vet anatomy is essential for veterinarians.

Again, this article will provide the study methods of animal anatomy with examples. So, let’s get into the article to know the definition of veterinary anatomy first.

What is veterinary anatomy?

The term “veterinary anatomy’ literally translates as “to cut apart.” This is because it acknowledges the main role of dissection in studying animal body structures.

So, etymologically, the animal anatomy means –

  • Ana – apart or separately, and
  • Tome – cut,

Thus, the full meaning of the word “anatomy” – is cutting apart or disassociation of the part of the animal body.

But in contemporary usage, the word anatomy has come to refer more generally to science. It deals with the form and structure of the individual organism or animals.

Complete definition: veterinary anatomy is the branch of anatomy that deals with the forms and structures of animals and birds.

But the question is, what are the forms and structures?

The form means the size, shape, length, weight, height, diameter, and thickness of the specific parts of the individual. Thus, it means all the physical properties of the particular organ or part of the animal’s body.

Again, the structure means the compositions and parts. The composition includes the muscle, bone, cartilage, ligament, membrane, any tissue, vein, nerve, and others.

The parts of the structure are the lobe, head, neck, body, cortex, medulla, base, and apex.

So, let’s summarize the definition of animal anatomy in Table 1 –

What is veterinary anatomy?The branch of anatomy deals with FORMS and STRUCTURE.
What is form in anatomy?All physical properties of specific organs or parts of the animal body
Example: size, shape, length, weight, diameter, height
What is a structure in anatomy?It means the COMPOSITION and PARTS of the specific organs of the animal body.
What is composition?By which the specific organ of the animal body is made
Example: muscles, ligament, cartilage,
What are the parts?It is the particular portion of that specific organ
Example: lobe, head, neck, cortex, and medulla,
Definition of Vet Anatomy

Example of veterinary anatomy

Cow lung: The cow has two lungs (right and left), and let’s describe their anatomy. Here, I will not describe all the anatomical features of the lung. But you may find a detailed guide to cow lung anatomy from other articles of anatomy learners.

Example of Vet Anatomy
Example of Vet Anatomy

According to the definition, the lung has a specific size, shape, length, and weight. So, all these are the physical properties of the lung (forms).

Again, the cow lungs are made with specific lung tissue, vessels, nerves, and other structures. These are the composition of the animal lungs.

However, both the right and left lung of the cow has lobes. You will find 4 lobes in the right lung and 2 lobes in the left lung of the cows. According to the definition of anatomy, these are the parts of the cow lung.

Thus, the composition and parts form the structure of the cow lung together.

You will also find the form and structures of other organs (heart, kidney) of the animal body.

Major branches of veterinary anatomy

There are three major branches of the veterinary anatomy –

  • Gross or macroscopic anatomy – the study of gross anatomy is often based on the dissection of animals,
  • Microscopic anatomy or histology – deals with the forms and structure of the cells and tissue of an organ with the help of a microscope and
  • Developmental anatomy or embryology deals with the entire development phase during which tissue is formed (zygote to the fetus).

What is veterinary gross anatomy?

This is the study of the form and relative position of the structures of the animal body with an unaided eye. Dissection is mandatory for studying the gross anatomy of any organ of the animal body.

After the dissection of the animal, the palpation and direct observation of the grossly visible structure provide the following –

  • It provides the real concept of the texture of the specific organs of the animal body,
  • You will get the actual shape and location of the specific organ of the animal body, and
  • It will provide the relative position and relationship between the adjacent organs,

Other branches of animal anatomy

Other than three major branches, you will also find the below-mentioned branches of the vet anatomy –

Comparative anatomy – it deals with the description and comparison of the structure of the animal and forms the basis of their classification.

So, the key features of the comparative anatomy are –

  • You might know the description of the specific organs of the animals,
  • Then, you might compare these organs between two or more species,

Special anatomy – it deals with the description of the structure of a single type or species. The special anatomy includes bovine anatomy, canine anatomy, carpine anatomy, feline anatomy, avian anatomy, and others.

Evolutionary anatomy – it deals with the anatomical or structural changes of individual animals based on the requirements of the environment.

What is the definition of animal anatomy?

Answer: animal anatomy is the branch of vet anatomy that deals with the forms and structures of animals.

Why is veterinary anatomy important?

The macroscopic, microscopic, and developmental veterinary anatomy are equally important for vet students. Let’s enlist the importance of the animal anatomy –

  • It provides the exact location (surface and topographic) of the animal’s organs,
  • Students will get an idea of the different organs from various systems of the animal body,
  • Vet anatomy is essential as it provides the superficial location of all clinically important veins, arteries, and nerves,
  • It provides the knowledge for the surgical intervention of any specific area or any organ,
  • The microscopic anatomy provides a comprehensive understanding of the structures of organs or tissue,
  • Development anatomy provides the clear idea of the placentation and organogenesis,

Methods of study animal anatomy

There are several methods of studying animal anatomy. Let’s see the standard techniques of studying vet anatomy in Table 2 –

Methods of study animal anatomyMain study area
Systemic vet anatomyAll systems of animal body
Topographic vet anatomyDetermine the relative position of the organs.
Applied vet anatomyApplication of anatomical knowledge on surgery and diagnosis
Regional vet anatomyAnatomical study of various regions of the animals
Clinical vet anatomyApplication of anatomical knowledge in medicine
Functional vet anatomyCorrelation between the anatomical structure and function
Radiological animal anatomyStudy of anatomy using radiology
Animal Anatomy Study Technique

Systemic anatomy- consists of systems or organs with similar origins, structures, and functions.

Table 3 shows the example of animal systemic anatomy –

System of animal bodyStudy nameMain organ
Skeletal systemOsteologyBones, cartilage, ligaments
Articular SystemSyndesmologyStructures of the joint
Muscular systemMyologyMuscles
Digestive systemSplanchnologyMouth cavity, gastrointestinal tracts,
Respiratory systemSplanchnologyLungs and trachea
Urinary systemSplanchnologyKidney, ureter, urinary bladder
Male genital systemSplanchnologyTestis, epididymis, vas deferens, accessory glands,
Female genital systemSplanchnologyOvaries, uterus, uterine tube
Endocrine systemEndocrinologyGlands and ducts
Nervous systemNeurologyBrain, spinal cord, and nerves
Cardiovascular systemCardiologyHeart, arteries, veins,
Special sense organs AsthesiologyEye, ear, skin,
Animals Systemic Anatomy

Other methods of learning animal anatomy

Topographic anatomy – is the study of the relative position of the various organs of the animal body. Thus, the topographic anatomy accurately determines the relative organs’ position.

Let’s see the detailed guide on – how to study animal anatomy.

Applied vet anatomy – the anatomical knowledge applies to surgery, physical diagnosis, and other practical branches.

Regional anatomy – is the study of the organization of the animal body by their specific regions or areas.

Clinical vet anatomy: – when the anatomical knowledge is applied in medicine and other health science.

Functional vet anatomy: – the study of the correlation between the anatomical structure of the organs and functions.

Radiological animal anatomy is the study of the structure and function of the animal body using radiological and imaging techniques.

Suggested articles about the vet anatomy study –


So, the guide provides the best answer to the question – what is veterinary anatomy? The vet anatomy deals with all physical properties, compositions, and parts of the individual organs of the animal.