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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Psychological unhealth... in dogs

Okay, okay, I'm giving in to the masses! A New Year, a new post...

It took me years as a practicing veterinarian to begin thinking about the psychological well-being of dogs. A healthy person is one who is free of disease: both physical and mental. A human patient suffering from general anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, or even a serious phobia, without cancer or diabetes, is still a sick patient, n'est-ce pas?
Therefore a dog who is hyperactive, untrained, phobic, or suffering from aggression (for example, fear aggression), is not a healthy dog. These conditions need to be recognized (the hardest part), discussed (the second hardest part), and treatment needs to be instituted.
How many vets recognize this? This is why the consultation starts in the waiting room. Veterinarians must recognize these issues immediately. The disservice is to let such patients go without having addressed the (sometimes easily) manifestations of poor doggy mental health. "Ok, he's now vaccinated, bloodwork is normal, no parasites..." Nope, not enough.
I want my patients to trot into the consultation room, be calm (to a realistic extent), sit when they're told to sit, and who obey their owners.
The dog who wants to take my face off will be given a poor bill of health as far as I'm concerned. That said, his prognosis is far from grave.

Depending on the context, this dog may require treatment.