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Evidence-based paradigm shifts in veterinary behavioral medicine

Karen L. Overall MA, VMD, PhD, DACVB1
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  • 1 1Goddard Laboratory, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

Abstract

There is now a large body of research in veterinary behavioral medicine that is clinically relevant and could enrich patients’ and practitioners’ lives. Too often, however, this research is published in journals that may not be readily available to veterinarians in private practice. Four important topics in the area of veterinary behavioral medicine for which belief has not kept pace with the published data are the unmet need for behavioral medicine in veterinary practice, the veterinary experience as a contributor to fear and distress in dogs and cats, social signaling in dogs and the ongoing “dominance” debate, and punishment as an intervention to change behavior. The present article seeks to provide a critical overview of recent research that is shifting existing paradigms on these topics and should alter the way veterinarians observe and care for patients.

Abstract

There is now a large body of research in veterinary behavioral medicine that is clinically relevant and could enrich patients’ and practitioners’ lives. Too often, however, this research is published in journals that may not be readily available to veterinarians in private practice. Four important topics in the area of veterinary behavioral medicine for which belief has not kept pace with the published data are the unmet need for behavioral medicine in veterinary practice, the veterinary experience as a contributor to fear and distress in dogs and cats, social signaling in dogs and the ongoing “dominance” debate, and punishment as an intervention to change behavior. The present article seeks to provide a critical overview of recent research that is shifting existing paradigms on these topics and should alter the way veterinarians observe and care for patients.

Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to Dr. Overall (overallk@sas.upenn.edu).