Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Behaviour Bites - The Beginning!

Pusski  will be the face of "Behaviour Bites"
as he is such a chilled dude... our
target behaviour in a stressed
Well, if you have been following my blog for a while, you will realise I like to lump things into streams of thought - like musings, dental discussion etc. and then I attach photos or pictures to go with it. Behaviour is one of my first "loves" as a vet, and it is what led me to dentistry (returning a pet's mouth to a healthy normal, has altered their behaviour from a old painful pet to acting like a young un.)

There is undoubtedly a huge problem with our pets with mental illness, as there is with us. And, as with us, there is a stigma associated with it too... after all, if your pet suffers from anxiety, and your best friends dog can cope with anything, you wonder what you did wrong?

There is no stigma as far as many vets are concerned - ask your vet for help. In many cases of anxiety, the cause is genetic, not situational (because of a bad upbringing), and not your fault.

 And, as is the case with us, there is alot of trial and error in finding the right medication, fear of medications, risks of complications or adverse reactions to medications, and if that wasn't enough, what loving pet owner gets excited about giving their pet medication every day anyway. Or even admitting that their pet has a mental illness that needs medication?

In July 2013, I, with just 20 animal lovers (mostly vets, some vet nurses, and a couple of dog trainers) attended a half day seminar in North Sydney ,  which focused on anxiety - from separation and  grief  to full blown noise phobia.  And, whilst I learnt alot, what really struck me was that some practices had a high percentage of pets on anti-anxiety medications (and with the comment being made that many  pet owners themselves are on medications, and thus, understood and accepted that their pet may need it aswell), and some practices (like mine), find pet owners who have had no personal experience with psychoactive medications, and are therefore really skeptical that they will work, (or another reason).

I thought it was interesting that the use of these medications was possibly socioeconomic driven, rather than pet driven. And the more upmarket areas are more likely to be on Prozac than the poorer ones... is this valid? I don't know, as I am talking about an observation, using my own area.

A pet's hearing is acute - what
doesn't sound like much to us,
sounds like a rock concert to them.
Do our pets actually need psychoactive medications, like Prozac?   The answer is pretty easy - Yes, if they  have a neurochemical imbalance as a result of, or contributing to their severe anxiety or phobia. If they behave in a manner which is harmful to themselves and others around them, then they definitely need medications.

After all, would you deny your diabetic pet of insulin? or epileptic dog of anticonvulsants?  your cat fight abscess or severe infection of antibiotics?

Of course, you wouldn't deny your pet the veterinary care they needed... so why do many people deny their pet behaviour medications like Prozac?

You and I need to think of psychoactive or behaviour modifying drugs as medications which are trying to normalise the chemicals within the brain, rather than our general perception that they are going to "dull the dog", and that is how it stops the undesirable behaviour.

I am Dr Liz... and I am here to
help you.
Well, welcome to the beginning of Behaviour Bites...If you haven't guessed already, it will be an interesting series.   I look forward to sharing ideas with you all, as well as learning from you too.

If you have a behaviour question, do not be frightened to make a consultation with me at Russell Vale Animal Clinic. Just call 02 42 845988 or you can book online (look to the left).