Mental health of pet dogs and cats (for nurses)
Mental health problems or illnesses are widespread in pets (where they are often referred to as “abnormal” behaviours), just as they are in humans. Yet they are little recognised or understood by pet owners, and sometimes within the veterinary profession. Behavioural medicine is an important component of veterinary medicine, and appropriate management of pets showing abnormal behaviour is vital to their welfare. This webinar provides an overview of the most common types of mental health problems in pet dogs and cats. It distinguishes abnormal behaviours from “normal” but inappropriate behaviours, and explains the implications of this important distinction. Treatment of abnormal behaviours typically involves a combination of medication, behaviour modification and management. This is illustrated by two example cases. Based on the author’s experience, common obstacles to effective recognition, diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems of dogs and cats are explored. Some key implications for veterinary staff are suggested.
Recording from 18.07.2018
Dr Karen Higginbottom Animal Behavourist (PhD)
Dr Karen has always loved animals and been fascinated by their behaviour. She obtained a PhD in wildlife behaviour at the University of New England in 1992. After 17 years as a university lecturer and researcher in wildlife behaviour and management, she decided to work in a more “hands on” capacity with animals. In 2009-2010, Karen undertook the Delta Certificate IV in Companion Animal Services, to become a Delta-accredited Professional Dog Trainer. During the same period, she successfully completed the (veterinary) Behavioural Medicine program through the Centre for Veterinary Education, taught by Dr Kersti Seksel. Since 2010, Karen has been operating her business Canine Behaviour Solutions, helping pet dog and cat owners in the Gold coast area to address a wide range of behavioural problems. She works mainly through veterinary referral, and in partnership with vets. With her diverse background, Karen employs a unique combination of expertise spanning the fields of modern professional dog training, applied animal behaviour and veterinary behaviour. However, she refers clients to a veterinary behaviourist for more complex or difficult cases. She shares her home with her rural home in Tallebudgera Valley in the Gold Coast hinterland with her animal-loving husband, a super-energetic Australian kelpie, and a Bermese cat.