Pet Behavioral Consultations

Animals experience stress, anxiety, and other behavioral disorders just like humans. We can help you implement a behavioral modification program for your pet, and prescribe medication if needed.

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Stress and anxiety in cats and dogs

Stress and anxiety are some of the most common behavioral issues faced by pets, but thankfully there are ways to help manage these conditions. Our doctors can help you identify the triggers that cause your pet anxiety, and work on a treatment plan that may include anti-anxiety medication, calming aids, lifestyle changes and desensitization plans, to help your pet learn to live more calmly and happily.

Separation anxiety in cats and dogs

Separation anxiety is a specific form of anxiety experienced by pets when left alone by their owners. While separation anxiety may seem insurmountable to owners, there are a number of techniques we can teach you to help, including socialization, crate training, establishing positive associations with your absence, providing high-stimulation distractions, increasing exercise, switching up your routine and staying calm during arrivals and departures. Your pet may also benefit from anti-anxiety medication and calming aids during the training process, to help ease them into the transition.

Aggressive and territorial behavior in cats and dogs

Aggressive or territorial behavior often stems from a feeling of being threatened or anxious, and so it’s important to try to determine the root cause of the behavior. There are many steps that can be taken to help aggressive or territorial pets, including some of the treatments mentioned above. Lifestyle changes (to remove any triggers of the behavior) and work with a licensed pet trainer can be of particular use in these cases.

What happens during a behavioral consultation?

During a behavioral consultation, we will discuss your pet’s behavior and history with you, as well as conducting a thorough nose-to-tail examination. Sometimes, pain or another hidden health condition can manifest as signs of aggression or anxiety, so it’s important to rule out any physical causes before beginning treatment for a behavioral condition.

It may be useful for you to capture video of your pet’s behavior in advance, for our doctors to review during the consultation. We’ll then work with you to put together a holistic treatment plan, which may include medication, calming aids, specific training exercises and lifestyle changes.

Common questions

  • Does my pet need medication for their behavioral issue?
    Yes, if our doctors believe that anti-anxiety medication will be helpful for your pet, we can prescribe it for them.
  • Can you prescribe anti-anxiety medication for my pet?
    Yes, if our doctors believe that anti-anxiety medication will be helpful for your pet, we can prescribe it for them.
  • Will my pet need anti-anxiety medication forever?
    Not necessarily. Sometimes anti-anxiety medication can be helpful at the start of a treatment or training program, and eventually your pet may not need it anymore. Other pets may require medication only before an event or stimulus that is particularly triggering for them, whilst others may benefit from daily medication. Our doctors will advise on the best treatment plan for your pet.
  • My pets aren’t getting along. What should I do?
    It can be difficult to deal with pets who don’t get along, and when introducing a new pet to the household, existing pets may become territorial. Our doctors can help you come up with a training plan for both pets to help, which may include: separate areas of the house for each pet divided by a baby gate, separate feeding areas and times, separate toys, introducing clothing or bedding with each pet’s scent to the other pet’s area to help them acclimatize, plenty of exercise and mental stimulation such as puzzle food toys, spending lots of time cuddling and playing with each pet separately, and using a water spray bottle and loud clapping to separate pets if necessary. It’s also important to work on obedience training and reinforce positive behaviors with plenty of treats and praise. Your pets may also benefit from calming aids such as pheromone collars or diffusers.
  • My pet has had this problem for years. Should I give up?
    No! Even if your pet has struggled with a behavioral issue for a long time, there are always new tactics we can try. The positive benefits of treating a behavioral issue extend not just to your pet, but yourself and any other pets or family members in the household. All of you will lead a calmer, happier life if you can successfully treat your pet’s behavioral issue, so it’s important to keep hope and to keep trying to help your pet.
  • Can you recommend a dog trainer?
    Yes, we can! We highly recommend Yuruani Olguin Dog Training. Here at Small Door Veterinary, we’ve worked with Yuri on numerous occasions, and can strongly recommend her. She uses positive reinforcement-based, force-free techniques and offers private in-home training and group classes throughout Manhattan, and parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

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