Did you know that behavior problems are the number one cause of death for companion animals in the United States? Several million animals are surrendered to shelters in the U.S. every year. Behavior problems are the reason for relinquishment in about a third of all cases.
As an example, aggression is one of the most common behavior issues reported in dogs and cats, usually due to fear. Aggression can put people, especially children, and other animals, at risk. Aggressive behavior can be avoided by socializing pets early and by introducing companions to a variety of new situations in a controlled environment. A behaviorist can help you with that.Why a specialized veterinarian for behavioral problems?
A veterinary behaviorist can teach owners to understand and manage their pet’s behavior. Veterinary behaviorists can also treat abnormal behaviors such as compulsive behaviors and phobias. They can also diagnose medical conditions that may affect behavior. A medical work-up is fundamental part of any behavioral evaluation. Only veterinarians can prescribe psychoactive medication, which can be a helpful tool in the treatment of behavior disorders.
Veterinary behaviorists treat all species: cats, dogs, rabbits, exotic and zoo species, wildlife, horses and other large animals. They can also develop training programs to promote gentler and easier handling of animals.
At the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine Behavior Service, we also work on gaining new knowledge about the behavior of animals and how to improve their welfare. Our goals are to:
- Help owners and caregivers understand the behavior of animals, and to improve human-animal communication
- Treat and manage behavior problems and behavioral disorders
- Teach senior veterinary students about animal behavior and behavioral therapy
- Develop research in animal behavior and welfare