VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital

Behavior

Welcome to the VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital’s Behavior Department!

Thank you for your interest in Veterinary Behavior. Undesirable behaviors negatively impact the relationship we have with our pets. The goal of our Behavior Department is to create a better life for you and your pet by preventing and treating behavior problems using compassionate, scientific methodology that nurtures the human-animal bond.

If you have concerns about your pet’s behavior or questions about our Behavior Department’s services, please feel free to call us at 310-473-2951 or email VCABehavior@gmail.com.

What Is A Veterinary Behaviorist?

A veterinary behaviorist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of behavior problems in pets. The specialty of veterinary behavior is equivalent to human psychiatry, and veterinary behaviorists are, in effect, animal psychiatrists. Similar to human psychiatrists, veterinary behaviorists have received many years of specialized education and have passed a rigorous board-certification examination in order to treat your pet. Veterinary behaviorists use behavior modification techniques, environmental and lifestyle changes, and psychoactive medication when appropriate in order to manage behavior problems. As trained veterinarians, veterinary behaviorists also have the medical knowledge to determine whether an underlying medical condition is responsible for your pet’s behavioral change. Medical problems almost always have behavioral consequences, but not every behavior change is due to a medical problem �" veterinary behaviorists are uniquely trained to recognize and treat both.

Your general practitioner veterinarian can diagnose and treat many routine behavior problems; however, many behavior issues require the care of a doctor who has had specialized, intensive training in veterinary behavior in order to provide the very best outcome for your pet. The treatment of behavior cases requires a very careful accounting of the pet's past history, both medical and behavioral, and his or her current lifestyle. It is important to really understand your pet's emotional and psychological needs and deficits in order to gain insight into the solutions to the issues that concern you.

What is the Difference between a Veterinary Behaviorist and a Trainer?

Veterinary behavior treatment goes far above and beyond basic obedience training. Trainers commonly teach commands such as “sit” or “stay.” To a veterinary behaviorist, however, teaching commands may be just a small part of a larger treatment program designed to address a pet’s behavior issue, whether it be aggression or house soiling. While a trainer’s primary goal is to get a pet simply to act a certain way, a veterinary behaviorist’s primary goal is to understand why a pet misbehaves in order to create a personalized, comprehensive treatment plan to address the underlying cause of the behavior problem. Addressing the fundamental reason for misbehavior, rather than attempting to “train away” the problem, typically leads to longer-lasting results.

Veterinary behaviorists are qualified to provide you with the correct diagnosis and state-of-the-art treatment of your pet’s behavior problem. A veterinary behaviorist is also best able to determine whether your pet may benefit from behavior-modifying medication or if a medical problem may be a contributing factor.

Many non-professionals claim to be “animal behaviorists” but lack the education, scientific knowledge, experience and training of a veterinary behaviorist. Unfortunately no governing body regulates who may call themselves an “animal behaviorist” or “trainer.” While some non-veterinary behaviorists and trainers are experienced and educated, there are many others who possess no formal education or proper understanding of animal behavior and may utilize unproven, outdated or even inhumane training techniques to achieve short-term results. By consulting and working with a veterinary behaviorist, your pet will be receiving the highest standard of care from a certified professional.

Why Does My Pet Need A Veterinary Behaviorist?

While your general practitioner veterinarian can handle many aspects of your pet's care, just as in human medicine, sometimes there is a need for the attention of a specialist. If your pet has a complicated or difficult behavior problem, your pet may need the care of a veterinary behaviorist. Your veterinarian knows when to refer you and your pet for more specialized diagnostic work or treatment, and cares enough to ensure your pet receives the highest standard of care by referring you to see a veterinary behaviorist.

While in some cases, your veterinarian may be able to simply consult with a veterinary behavior specialist about your pet's care. In other cases it is necessary to actually refer you and your pet to the specialist for observation, more advanced diagnostics and treatment. Ask your veterinarian for help or for a referral to a veterinary behaviorist!

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Your veterinary behaviorist will advise your veterinarian of any recommended treatment and your veterinarian will continue to be involved as part of your pet's total veterinary health care team. Your general practitioner veterinarian will still oversee all aspects of your pet's care, but with the added, specialized input of a veterinary behaviorist. For example, if a veterinary behaviorist discovers that your pet has thyroid disease, this clinical diagnosis is relayed immediately to your general practitioner veterinarian, who will treat your pet's thyroid disease. The veterinary behaviorist will also give you a treatment plan to follow that will help to resolve the behavioral problems your pet exhibited that were associated with the discovered medical condition.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any additional questions or to schedule an appointment.  We look forward to helping you and your pet live happier lives…together.
Phone:  310-473-2951
Email:  VCABehavior@gmail.com
 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Specialized Training Does A Veterinary Behaviorist Have?

Just like a psychiatrist, veterinarians who specialize in veterinary behavior acquire additional, intensive training to become a specialist. Prestigious specialty status is granted by the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB). There are only a few dozen veterinary specialists in all of North America. A veterinarian who has received this specialty status will list the initials DACVB (Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists) after his or her veterinary degree. The word �Diplomate� typically means the specialist has achieved the following:
� Obtained a traditional 8-year veterinary degree (four years of college plus four years of veterinary school).
� Usually has completed a one-year internship in small animal medicine and surgery.
� Completed an additional residency in veterinary behavior at a university veterinary hospital.
� Completed the credentialing application process established by the ACVB, which includes publishing credits, case reports, and a resume.
� Passed a rigorous, 20 hour written examination conducted over 2 days.
After completing and passing all of the above, his or her peers recognize the veterinarian as a board certified specialist in veterinary behavior. As you can see, when your pet needs the specialized care of a veterinary behaviorist, the intensive training and additional education will provide you and your pet with the best treatment and the greatest chance of successfully resolving the behavior problem you are trying to overcome. Forming a team with an experienced veterinary behaviorist is the best way to deal with a misbehaving pet.
 

Will My Regular Veterinarian Still Be Involved?

Your veterinary behaviorist will advise your veterinarian of any recommended treatment and your veterinarian will continue to be involved as part of your pet's total veterinary health care team. Your general practitioner veterinarian will still oversee all aspects of your pet's care, but with the added, specialized input of a veterinary behaviorist. For example, if a veterinary behaviorist discovers that your pet has thyroid disease, this clinical diagnosis is relayed immediately to your general practitioner veterinarian, who will treat your pet's thyroid disease. The veterinary behaviorist will also give you a treatment plan to follow that will help to resolve the behavioral problems your pet exhibited that were associated with the discovered medical condition.
 

Did You Know?

� Crate training a puppy or dog is not the same as house training? Crate confinement should be viewed as DAMAGE CONTROL; it restricts a pet's movements when you are unavailable to supervise him or her. Dogs may not be able to control their urges to urinate or defecate for prolonged periods and if they are confined to a crate, they may soil themselves. NEVER punish a pet for a house soiling accident anywhere in your home.
� Cats can have Separation Anxiety? We've known for a long time that dogs suffer when separated from a preferred companion, but we now understand that many cats do too. The most common signs of SAS (Separation Anxiety Syndrome) in pet cats and dogs are house soiling, destructiveness, and excessive vocalization like meowing or barking. Pets with SAS misbehave because of real distress, not out of maliciousness or revenge. If your pet is showing any of these signs of anxiety or agitation when you leave home, for example, please understand that he is really asking for help.
 

What Special Problems Does A Veterinary Behaviorist Treat?

Routine behavior problems can frequently be handled by your general practitioner veterinarian. The conditions listed below, however, frequently require the attention of a specialist.

  • House soiling or house training problems
  • Litter box refusal or rejection
  • Destructiveness
  • Aggressiveness toward people, including children
  • Aggressive conflicts between housemates
  • Nipping and unruly puppies or kittens
  • Difficulties introducing new pets
  • Separation anxiety syndrome
  • Fears and phobias
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Seizure-related behavior problems
  • Geriatric behavior problems in aging cats and dogs

Veterinary behaviorists are also the best source of information to prevent behavior problems from occurring in the future.  Preventative behavior management includes:

  • Preparing for the arrival of a baby
  • New pet selection
  • Introducing new pets into the household
  • Puppy and kitten classes including socialization and pet parenting education
What Do I Bring to My Referral Appointment?

Be sure to bring any relevant medical records or information to your first appointment. Your veterinary behaviorist may require copies of any recent medical tests, imaging studies, x-rays, or laboratory panels. The veterinary behaviorist may also ask you to complete a behavior history form prior to your appointment. This provides the veterinary behaviorist with background information regarding your pet’s behavior problem so she or he can best plan for your appointment. You may also be asked to videotape your pet’s behavior if you can do so safely; we do not want you, your pet or another person or animal to be injured in any way. You also can do your part to maximize your pet's recovery by strictly adhering to the recommendations of your veterinary team for the scheduling of any follow up appointments.

Services Offered in Behavior

Veterinarians in Behavior

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General Practice

We have over 600 animal hospitals in 41 states and 4 Canadian provinces that are staffed by more than 3,000 fully-qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 400 being board-certified specialists.

The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments such as wellness, spay/neuter, advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), internal medicine, oncology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, boarding, and grooming. Services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Emergency Care

FOR PET MEDICAL EMERGENCIES, PLEASE CALL OUR HOSPITAL AT (310) 473-2951 OR TRANSPORT YOUR PET IMMEDIATELY TO OUR FACILITY (NO APPOINTMENT IS NEEDED).

VCA WEST LOS ANGELES ANIMAL HOSPITAL IS LOCATED AT:

1900 S. SEPULVEDA BLVD.
LOS ANGELES, CA 90025
TEL: (310) 473-2951
Click here for directions to our location.

The doctors and staff of VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital are ready and available to provide emergency and critical care for your beloved companion around the clock every day of the year. Staffed by emergency/critical care veterinarians and technicians, our emergency team is ready to provide your pet with the highest possible level of quality compassionate care should an urgent medical need arise at any time of day or night.

If you feel your pet is having an emergency, please feel free to immediately come to the hospital - we are ALWAYS available! You may speak with a member of the emergency team if you have questions/concerns by calling (310) 473-2951 at any time.

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