Animal Behaviour and Veterinary Behavioural Medicine

For our first blog post, I’m going to write about an area of veterinary practice that is very close to my heart – animal behaviour and veterinary behavioural medicine. This is an emerging field within vet science as a whole and more and more people are realizing how vitally important it is, every single day.

Clients so often walk into a consult with myself or any one of our other vets and will say “Fido isn’t eating”, or “Bella just isn’t right!”. What you’re really letting us know is that your pet’s behaviour has changed.

Others will let me know that Rover paces and howls and tries to dig out of the yard when fireworks go off, or that Kitty has begun urinating outside her litter tray ever since the new kitten came home.

Veterinary behavioural medicine is about recognizing an animals’ emotional state, understanding how this affects their physical health and how these two things join together into the behavioural response we can see.

For example, Fido might have gastroenteritis and need medical treatment to help him regain his appetite. His owner may have just bought him the newest dog food, and he is staging his own little doggy-protest, wanting to eat what he had yesterday. Or, Fido might be terrified of the rain and storms we’ve been having which makes him hide under the bed all day, not even coming out for his dinner. Without more information, it’s impossible to tell what’s really going on with Fido, but we need to consider every option, not just those that involve strictly physical health.

Our pets are every bit as complex as we are, with unique thoughts, motivations and emotional states. One of my favourite parts of my job is meeting so many animals every single day, and seeing little dog and cat personalities shine through between the vaccinations and health checks. You’ll often catch me smooching with a friendly cat, or hanging out with the patient that’s been in hospital for a while and needs some TLC.

Individual pets deserve individualized care, including our routine vaccinations, worming, flea prevention but also including an awareness that our animals are part of our families. When you walk into our clinic, you don’t only want a healthy animal, you want a HAPPY, healthy animal. That’s where veterinary behavioural medicine steps in. We find ALL the pieces of the puzzle and leave no stone unturned, working to make your fur family happy and healthy.

In upcoming blog posts, I’ll dive into more specifics of what I do, including some lessons on how to speak dog, or cat, some tips of how to make your house more dog or cat friendly, and hopefully some posts where I can answer any questions you submit via email, on our Facebook page or in person at one of our clinics.

So, put your thinking caps on and ask yourself what behaviour means to you and your pets.

For us, it comes down to a few simple words: Pet Medical – Love your friends

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