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Abstract

OBJECTIVE

To compare how often owners identified concerns about their pets’ behavior during routine examinations in 2 test conditions (voluntarily or when completing a questionnaire), and to test the efficacy of a simple behavior screening questionnaire to be used by practicing veterinarians.

ANIMALS

Privately owned dogs and cats presenting for routine examinations to 1 of 2 primary care clinics.

METHODS

The study was conducted in 2 sequential phases. In Phase 1, veterinary staff recorded whether pet owners or veterinarians inquired about behavior during routine examinations. In Phase 2, a different set of pet owners completed a short behavioral screening questionnaire as they waited for the veterinarian. We compared the 2 phases for how often behavior concerns were identified, the types of concerns, the pets’ ages, and the owners’ levels of satisfaction and desire for help.

RESULTS

Dog and cat owners were more likely to identify behavior concerns when prompted than they were to volunteer this information, especially for older patients in which behavior changes may be the first sign of disease. Most owners were satisfied with their pets’ behavior, though owners were more likely to be unsatisfied with certain identified concerns. Owners who were dissatisfied were much more likely to want help.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE

A behavior screening questionnaire enhances detection of behavior problems that may have medical implications and impact the security of the pet in its home. A behavior screening questionnaire can elevate standard of care by enabling veterinarians to quickly assess behavior during every examination.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association