Behavioral Medicine

Treatment and solutions for animal problem behaviors

Did you know that dogs and cats can suffer from mental illnesses and behavioral pathologies just like people? It can be very stressful for animal owners and their families when their pet suffers from anxiety disorders, aggression, phobias or other psychological/psychiatry and behavioral issues. Our behavioral medicine team offers comprehensive evaluations and evidence-based treatment plans for a wide-range of mental health and behavioral problems. Let us help alleviate both you and your pet’s stress by scheduling an appointment with this service today.

Please note that this service operates out of our primary care clinic.

What we can help with:
  • Separation anxiety disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobias such as storm phobia, fear of people, fear of other animals, fear of the veterinary experience, neophobia and claustrophobia
  • Aggression directed toward other animals and/or humans
  • Obsessive compulsive disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Elimination problems and marking behavior (with urine or feces)
Our goals are to:
  • Help owners and caregivers understand how the brain/mind generates the behavior in non-human animals, and to improve human-animal communication and relationships
  • Treat and manage mental health and behavioral disorders
  • Develop research in animal behavior, neuroscience, clinical behavioral medicine and animal welfare

Frequently Asked Questions

Why a specialized veterinarian for behavioral problems?

A board-certified veterinary behaviorist will teach you how your pet’s brain works, will make an appropriate diagnosis for the problem and will help you understand and manage their behavior. They have specialized training in neuroscience, psychiatry and clinical psychology. They can also diagnose medical conditions that may cause problem behaviors.

How does a behavioral medicine appointment work?

Before your pet’s appointment, you will receive a history form (link) to complete and send back to us. You need to send this form one week ahead of time to keep your appointment. This is important so that we can prepare according to your pet’s specific needs. Your initial appointment will take around 2 hours. During that time, we will:

  • Take a detailed history of your pet’s behavioral, mental health and medical background
  • Perform a physical examination on your pet (when possible/safe), and discuss any diagnostic tests that may be needed
  • Make one or several diagnoses
  • Present you with a treatment plan that will include any necessary medications, behavior therapy interventions, prescription diets, environmental enrichment and management recommendations

After your consultation, you also get three months of free follow-up care advice, which is available by email or phone. During this time, you may contact us with any questions and we will guide you through the treatment plan. After three months, most patients need to come at least once for a recheck appointment so we can evaluate your pet’s progress and make any needed adjustments to the treatment plan and/or medication. This recheck appointment is not included in the cost of your initial consultation. We also offer behavior therapy appointments between rechecks for clients that want more intensive one-on-one coaching for their pet’s intervention exercises or simply want to achieve their goals faster.

Other Services

Pre-adoption Counseling

Many behavior problems can be prevented by choosing a pet that is a good fit for your family and your lifestyle, and by preparing the pet appropriately for its later life.

Before you bring a companion animal into your family, we can help you choose a species and breed that will be a good fit. We can also discuss realistic and unrealistic expectations that may come with pet ownership. We will also advise you on how to socialize and teach/train your companion so that you both get a good “start” and your pet can have a good chance at having normal brain development. If you already have a pet, we will give you advice on how to introduce your new addition to your family, so everyone gets along!

Latest Behavioral Medicine News and Stories

Amadeus Ramirez

We came to the UGA Veterinary Teaching Hospital because Amadeus was displaying human-directed aggression. Our first consultation was very thorough…