Early consultation is key to preventing behavioral issues - DVM
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Early consultation is key to preventing behavioral issues
Risk of relinquishment reduced by DVM counseling


DVM360 MAGAZINE


Behavior management products

A variety of products are designed to provide outlets for enriching the lives of pets. Toys for social play and chewing, food-foraging toys, clickers and targets for training and pet beds and crates help to encourage what is desirable and prevent what is undesirable. Odor counteractants can help control house soiling, and pheromones may be useful for reducing anxiety. Avoidance devices can help keep pets away from areas where they might injure themselves or damage the home. Head halters can help ensure physical control while shaping and reinforcing desirable responses in dogs. Body harnesses, in which the leash attaches at the chest, provide excellent control of pulling in dogs, and can be useful for physical control of cats.

Behavior counseling

A veterinary visit should be the starting point for each behavior case. The first step would be to rule out any medical factors that might be contributing to the behavioral signs. Undesirable behaviors may be normal behaviors that the owners are unable to manage, in which case advice from the veterinary clinic, or suggesting private or group training may be sufficient. However, for more difficult problems or when there is behavioral illness, veterinarians either can manage these problems within the practice or refer them to a behaviorist.

A list of ACVB diplomates can be found at http://www.dacvb.org/, and other veterinarians offering behavior consulting can be found at http://www.avsabonline.org/. Veterinary behaviorists can attend to both the diagnosis and treatment plan, while behaviorists who are not veterinarians (such as those certified by the Animal Behavior Society) can play an important role in developing a treatment plan as long as the referring veterinarian maintains oversight over diagnosis and treatment.

The consultation must begin with a determination of the cause and the pet's underlying motivation. The prognosis will then need to be determined, while taking into account any safety concerns and the limitations of what might be achieved in the pet's environment. The treatment plan should use some or all of environmental management, behavior modification, behavior products and drugs or natural supplements. Each case then requires follow-up to give further guidance and modify the program based on how the owner and problem are progressing.


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Source: DVM360 MAGAZINE,
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