How might our perceptions of medicine, health and well-being change if they were thought of as more than human concerns? On first impression society may appear human, on closer examination it can be seen to consist of a multitude of species, human and nonhuman, sharing varied and complex relationships. Whether we think of the companion animals sharing our homes, the animals we farm, wildlife within urban and rural environments, or the microbes that inhabit our bodies, everyday human life is permeated by more than human relationships.
Our research explores how medicine has formed various partnerships with nonhuman species to enhance health and well-being. Clinical examples include the use of maggots to treat chronic wounds and the post-surgical use of leeches to maintain blood flow and assist recovery. In wider society, we might consider service animals, such as guide dogs, diabetes alert dogs, or emotional support animals. In each case, human health and well-being rest on the cultivation of interdependencies with other species. By reconstructing the historical development and current use of varied examples of what we might call 'multispecies medicine', my research opens up new perspectives on medicine, health and our changing relations to nonhuman life in society.