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Behavior Problems in Cats & Dogs: Recognizing Signs Your Pet Needs Behavioral Help

Turning to your vet for guidance on correcting behavior problems in dogs and cats can promote more harmonious relationships with our furry friends. What are the warning signs of behavior issues in pets? Should you seek the help of a professional? Read on to find out.

Warning Signs of Behavioral Issues in Pets

Behavior issues in dogs and cats can take many forms. If your pet's behavior is leaving you feeling baffled, concerned or even scared it's time to head to your vet for professional guidance. 

Common behavioral issues in pets include:

  • Aggression - Whether it's towards people or other animals, aggression needs to be dealt with swiftly. In some cases, snapping, growling, scratching and biting are related to frustration or territoriality. In other cases, these behaviors can be an indication of socialization issues or fear.
  • Anxiety - Destructive behavior, relentless barking or meowing, inappropriate urination/defecation, trembling, hiding and tail chasing can all be signs of anxiety in pets.
  • Destructive Behavior - Chewing on shoes, furniture or other inappropriate items is definitely something that needs to be corrected as quickly as possible. Another common destructive behavior is excessive digging. These behaviors, most commonly seen in dogs, can be indications of boredom or anxiety.
  • Inappropriate Elimination - Urinating or defecating in inappropriate places indoors is something that can happen with cats or dogs. If your pet is house-trained but then begins soiling the house it could be a sign of a medical issue, stress or anxiety.
  • Excessive Barking or Meowing - This behavior can be a real headache for pet parents and neighbors. Repeated vocalization may indicate that your cat or dog is asking for more attention, is in pain or is feeling anxious.
  • Compulsive Behaviors - Tail chasing and overgrooming to the point of bald patches or hot spots are common compulsive behaviors seen in pets. Overgrooming needs to be dealt with right away to avoid escalating skin issues and infections.

Why Early Intervention is Important

Seeking professional assistance and promptly addressing cat or dog behavior problems can help prevent these issues from becoming ingrained habits that are difficult to break. Your veterinarian can provide guidance and valuable advice as you work to eliminate the aforementioned behaviors and replace them with more positive ones.

Many of these things can be corrected by pet parents simply with the help of their veterinarian, however, in more extreme cases, a professional pet behaviorist or trainer may need to be called in to help. Getting professional assistance promptly offers a number of benefits to both pets and their loving owners, such as:

  • Prevents Escalation - Many of the problematic behaviors listed above can become more extreme as time goes on. Correcting these issues right away can help to ensure that things don't get out of hand.
  • Reduces Stress - Repeated bad behavior from pets can be very stressful for family members. Not only that, if you have ever felt anxious then you likely have some idea of how your pet is feeling, it's not very nice. Correcting these behaviors can help to relieve stress for the pet and their loving owners. 
  • Enhances the Human & Animal Bond - Chances are good that if your dog or cat is continually annoying or badly behaved, you are unlikely to want to spend more time with them. Improving your pet's behavior and instilling good habits is bound to improve your relationship and help love flourish.
  • Establishes a Roadmap for Good Training Outcomes - By learning how to correct problematic behaviors, and taking the necessary steps, you set yourself and your pet on the path to great training outcomes in the future. You will begin to recognize how rewarding it is to achieve training successes and your pet will have fun spending time with you and learning. 

The Importance of Seeing Your Veterinarian When Problematic Pet Behaviors Arise

Consulting your veterinarian at the first sign of pet behavior issues could save you from a lot of hassle and headaches. Book a wellness exam for your pet and give your veterinarian a detailed description of the problematic behavior. Once your vet has listened to your concerns they will do a thorough examination of your pet to check for any underlying medical issues. In some cases, treating an underlying health problem (such as a bladder infection or joint pain) can resolve the behavior almost instantly.

If your dog or cat is given a clean bill of health, your veterinarian can assess your pet's behavior to determine the best course of action to address the issue. They will explain various training techniques and environmental changes that can be used to correct your pet's behavioral issues, as well as provide anti-anxiety medication if necessary.

Taking Action

Inappropriate behaviors won't correct themselves overnight. It will take persistence, commitment, and love to get the results you want. Your vet is behind you all the way! They can provide you with support and guidance each step of the way, help you implement strategies, and keep your pet's progress on track. Not only that, but your team of veterinary professionals are your biggest fans! They will be by your side to celebrate every win along the way.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your pet showing problematic behaviors? Contact our Nashville vets today to book an examination for your furry friend.

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