When does a pet need a psychiatrist?

The branch of veterinary medicine that studies animal behavior is called ethology. Thanks to it, it is possible to intervene to correct unwanted behaviors.

When perceiving strange attitudes or inappropriate behavior, many owners believe their pet needs a psychiatrist. There is currently a branch of veterinary medicine that specializes in the behavior and mental health of pets: veterinary ethology. In this article we will try to understand when a pet needs a psychiatrist.

Read on to find out what the job of a veterinary ethologist is and what needs to be observed to understand if your pet needs a psychiatrist.

Do the psychiatrist and the psychologist for animals exist ?!

Yup! The branch within veterinary medicine that is dedicated to the mental health of animals is called veterinary ethology or psychiatry. However, we prefer to use the term ethology , which is associated with behavior, and not psychiatry, which is instead related to the psyche and the mind.

Professionals who decide to specialize in this area are called ethologists , zoopsychiatrists or animal psychologists. Although we currently have to talk about ethologists for dogs and cats, there are also zoopsychiatrists who are dedicated to studying the behavior and mind of exotic and wild animals.

It should be noted that only veterinarians can formally practice animal ethology or psychology. That is, before specializing as an ethologist or zoopsychiatrist, the professional must first have graduated in veterinary medicine .

What is veterinary ethology or psychiatry for?

To find out if your pet needs a psychiatrist, it is first and foremost essential to know what these professionals do. A first step would be to analyze what animal ethology is and what problems it can help cure or control.

Veterinary ethology or zoopsychiatry is a branch of behavioral biology, dedicated to the study of animal behavior . We are not just talking about instinctive behaviors, but also about habits acquired during domestication or coexistence with people and other species.

Each animal behavior is linked to various genetic, environmental, educational and health factors . For this reason, veterinary ethologists and psychiatrists do not only study the internal factors of the animal.

To reach a diagnosis and establish a treatment, an ethologist must first consider possible diseases, but he must also contemplate the patient’s reality, the environment in which he lives and the education he receives. Therefore, it is a very complex specialization that requires dedication and specific knowledge.

What diseases does animal psychiatry study?

In principle, animal psychiatry or zoopsychiatry analyzes and tries to treat all behavioral problems . In addition to observing instinctive behaviors in nature, he is also dedicated to analyzing the causes and treating any behavioral disorders that arise in captivity.

When we talk about pets, the most frequent cases in clinical ethology are those behaviors that generate problems of coexistence with the owners and the family. In the vast majority of cases, these are instinctive behaviors, which appear or are reinforced by poor education or poor socialization.

Animal ethology or psychology

Behavioral problems that can be treated or alleviated with the help of an animal psychiatrist usually are:

  • Fears and phobias.
  • Aggressive or self-defensive behaviors in relation to known and unfamiliar people and animals.
  • Tendency to destroy things and separation anxiety .
  • Possessive behaviors in relation to their objects, their relatives or their environment.
  • Anxiety and hyperactivity.
  • Problems of socialization and coexistence, with people or with other animals.
  • Exaggerated reactions to unknown stimuli.
  • Stereotypies (obsessive behaviors) and obsessive compulsive disorder in animals.
  • Insecurity, self-confidence issues and fear of social interaction.

How do you know if your pet needs a psychiatrist?

To know if your pet needs a psychiatrist, it is essential to be attentive to his behavior on a daily basis. If the animal shows symptoms of the behavioral problems mentioned above, do not hesitate to go to an ethologist or psychiatrist.

On the other hand, if you feel that your pet’s character has changed in any way, it is advisable to consult a veterinary ethologist. In this way, it is possible to detect early and prevent the advancement of possible diseases or behavioral problems.

On the Internet it is possible to find professionals specialized in zoopsychiatry or veterinary ethology. However, we recommend that you first discuss this with your vet and ask for a recommendation. In addition to getting to know your pet, your vet can recommend a qualified professional they trust.

Last but not least, we want to remind you of the importance of preventing behavioral problems in our pets. With proper training and adequate preventive medicine, we can avoid the vast majority of behavioral disorders and preserve the good mental health of our faithful companions.