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Behavioral Medicine

How Behavioral Medicine Can Help Your Dog or Cat in Reisterstown, MD

Sometimes pets can seem even more eccentric in their behavior than their human owners, a fact that has created no end of amusement in countless households. But while most of these odd or silly behaviors can be attributed to harmless fun or the occasional display of stubbornness, sometimes they can signal the need for attention from an experienced vet who can identify possible behavioral disorders or causes associated with physical illness. Our Reisterstown veterinarian here at TLC for Pets, Dr. Mitchell Lucas, can help by recommending behavioral medicine or other treatments to restore your beloved companion to normal.


"Animal misbehavior" is an extremely broad term -- it can apply to acts that disturb your household or frighten visitors, odd or pointless new habits or any sudden behavioral changes that just don't fit your pet's personality. common examples include:

  • Aggression (growling, barking, biting)
  • Constant digging in the ground or licking the carpet
  • Tail chasing
  • Expressions of fear
  • Howling or crying when left alone (separation anxiety)
  • Inappropriate elimination

It is important to determine which of these symptoms is based in an emotional issue and which are actually medical problems. Inappropriate elimination of urine or feces, for instance, may be an expression of emotional upset over a major change at home (a new house, a new baby, another pet etc.), or it may be incontinence related to a urinary or cognitive disorder. Tail chasing is a manifestation of obsessive-compulsive disorder (or sometimes simple boredom), but it can also be a response to a tail injury or skin irritation.

Behavioral Medicine at Our Reisterstown Animal Hospital

If you're concerned about your pet's behavior, bring him to our Reisterstown animal hospital for an evaluation by our veterinarian. We can perform a detailed wellness check to rule out any infirmities, infections or other physical problems that might be causing the misbehavior. We will also ask you about any changes in your home or family life that may have created anxiety, even something as simple as moving your cat's litterbox or changing your dog's diet. Once we have pinpointed possible causes, you'll be able to make the appropriate changes. 

Training can also play a key role in behavioral medicine. Our vet can refer you to a professional trainer who will help you work with your pet to change certain behaviors. For example, distracting your pet with something fun when he seems ready to chase his tail may help him learn how to pursue a different reward. Training for separation anxiety may include counterconditioning (giving your pet a distracting reward when you leave the house) or desensitization (helping your pet gradually get used to longer separation periods).

Call TLC for Pets at (410) 833-1717 to schedule a consultation and find out whether behavioral modification makes sense for your pet. We can help your special friend live a happier, healthier, better-behaved life!