Pets are an important part of the family. They cheer, comfort and yes, sometimes challenge us in unexpected ways, particularly when their behavior changes. Richmond Hill veterinarians, Howard Covant DVM and Peter Bell DVM, counsel their clients on pet behavior issues. Sometimes a hidden medical issue causes Fido or Fifi to act differently. Other times, circumstances change an animal’s personality.
The doctors at Bayview Seven Animal Hospital answer frequently asked questions from their clients, offering suggestions and hope to those wishing to get their furry charges back to normal.
1. Are pet behavior problems unusual?
No, they are not unusual at all. Animal behavior experts at the ASPCA estimate that 10 to 15 percent of household pets exhibit behavior issues. Problems are wide ranging and can be simply bothersome to downright distressing. In fact, there is a board-certified veterinary specialty dedicated to understanding and correcting animal behavior. So, the issue is prevalent and important.
2. What are typical pet behavior problems?
Many problems involve aggression and anxiety. Dogs and cats can be overly protective toward what they consider to be theirs–food, family, house, toys. Dogs often bare their teeth, snarl, snap, and in the worse case, bite other animals and humans, too, when their territory is threatened. Cats hiss, scratch, howl and arch their backs. Both may defecate and urinate when agitated. Anxiety from loneliness and separation often shows up in repetitive licking, destroying furniture, sleep pattern problems, loss of appetite and lethargy.
3. What might a veterinarian or behaviorist first suggest?
Your Richmond Hill veterinarian will want to give your pet a complete physical exam to rule out any physical problems that could cause behavior issues. Diabetes and dementia in older cats and dogs lead to restlessness, sleep problems, howling, and disruption of toilet routines. Dental problems, urinary tract infections and pain from arthritis can continue undetected because a cat or dog cannot tell the owner he or she is hurting. Treating an underlying medical condition frequently clears up behavior issues.
4. What other kind of help is available?
Veterinarians prescribe anti-anxiety medications for animals when warranted. Just as with people experiencing psychological or emotional difficulties, medication often facilitates other treatment modalities. Additionally, animal behaviorists recommend individual and group therapies for dogs experiencing socialization problems with people or other dogs. Sometimes, simple walking and extra care and attention is all a pet needs to feel like himself again.
You may be experiencing a pet behavior problems right now. Don’t struggle through it alone. Drs. Bell and Covant urge you to give Bayview Seven Animal Hospitial a call to arrange a consultation. Come prepared with your questions, and the friendly staff will work with you and your pet to formulate a solution beneficial to all. Phone (905) 764-1144.