What is a veterinary behaviour consultant?
A veterinary behaviour consultant ('behaviour vet') is a veterinarian that has undergone additional study and training to work exclusively in the field of animal behaviour. They are qualified to diagnose psychological problems in animals and provide comprehensive and individual treatment plans, including medication if warranted. Think of them as a combination of a regular veterinarian, psychologist and a psychiatrist all rolled into one.
As a condition of their registration as a veterinarian they are required to undertake continual education which ensures they stay abreast of the latest knowledge and practices in behavioural medicine.
What is the difference between a behaviour vet and a trainer?
Animal behaviour problems are not the same as training problems. A dog or cat can be extremely well trained and still suffer from a behaviour problem such as a fear or anxiety disorder.
A behaviour vet has the skills, training and qualifications required to diagnose psychological problems and provide appropriate treatment. Dog trainers are simply not trained to deal with such cases. It is in fact illegal for a non-veterinarian to diagnose and treat medical conditions like mental illness. These conditions also cannot be treated through training alone..
Behaviour vets and trainers often work together on cases to provide the best outcome for your animal.
What does a typical consult look like?
The average initial behaviour consult usually lasts 3 hours. Depending on Covid-19 restrictions, the majority of these first consultations are carried out as a home visit.
During the consult we spend time discussing your pet’s past experiences, the problem behaviour and their environment to allow me to make a diagnosis. We then discuss the prognosis, target goals and strategies to modify that behaviour as well as any medications that might be necessary.
After the session you are provided with a detailed case report and instruction materials to begin implementing the treatment plan at home. 2 weeks after your session I will check in with you with a phone call to answer any questions and address any challenges you may be facing.
The majority of cases will require at least one follow up session. At these follow up sessions we will discuss progress, and adjust and modify the treatment plan as needed. Behaviour is all about teamwork. My aim is to ensure you feel supported and confident at all times.
Is there any preparation I should do prior to my consultation?
Yes, you will be provided with a questionnaire to fill in prior to the consultation.
Video footage of the behavioural issue is extremely useful - please make any recordings you can and email them to me prior to the consultation
If you have been referred by your regular veterinarian please arrange to have the referral and history sent to me.
Will medication be required? Can you prescribe it?
In some cases medication is an essential part of the treatment plan in order to reduce an animal's anxiety levels to enable them to learn as part of the behavioural modification program. An animal with a severe anxiety or fear disorder is suffering and in these cases the use of medication is needed to improve their welfare.
As a fully qualified and practicing veterinarian, I am able to write prescriptions for medication for patients as required.