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Behavior problems in small animals

11 June 2018 – News

Behavior problems too often cause owners to relinquish or euthanize their pets.  Sometimes these behavior changes are the result of underlying disease so veterinarians play a key role in identifying and treating the disease and, in doing so, resolving the behavior problem.

Frequent behavior problems in dogs include aggression directed at their owners, at strangers and other dogs; generalized anxiety, separation anxiety and noise aversion; inappropriate elimination and disruptive and compulsive behaviors.  In cats the most common issues are elimination (spraying, inappropriate elimination), aggression (directed at their owners, at strangers and other cats) and destructive and compulsive behaviors. Clinicians must know how to differentiate urine marking from inappropriate elimination.

When seeking to understand a behavioral issues, important steps include collecting a detailed, identifying the abnormal behaviors, spotting possible triggers and motivations.  . Videos provided by owners can be of great value to observe events occurring at home. A complete physical examination and necessary complementary tests helps to exclude possible medical causes.

In Stelow, E. (2018) Diagnosing Behavior Problems: A Guide for Practitioners. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 48 (3), 339–350.