Discussing Pet Behavior Issues in Shorter Exams

September 12, 2016
American Veterinarian Editorial Staff

E’Lise Christensen, DVM, DACVB, veterinary behaviorist at Veterinary Behavior Consultations of Colorado & New York City, discusses ways clinicians can give themselves the time that they need to adequately discuss behavior issues during shorter exams.

E’Lise Christensen, DVM, DACVB, veterinary behaviorist at Veterinary Behavior Consultations of Colorado & New York City, discusses ways clinicians can give themselves the time that they need to adequately discuss behavior issues during shorter exams.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability).

“Normal clinical exams, if you’re talking about a 15-minute exam, which is the sort of pressure a lot of [veterinarians] are under these days, [provides] barely enough time to do a good job on the usual medical issues related to health. Asking yourself, as a clinician, to do a really great job on the non-behavioral medical stuff, as well as the behavioral medical stuff, can be a lot of pressure. I don’t want clinicians to feel negative pressure about behavior because it is one of the major reasons animals die every year; you have to be comfortable giving yourself the time that you need.

The good news is, [is] there’s tons of ways to do that. One [way] is just getting some of the basic information in your head; it’s not any more than for any other field. In fact, I think [that] even though there is a lot of fear about the difficulty of behavior, the College of Veterinary Behaviorists is trying really hard to help clinicians realize that there are some simple tips that you can give in literally less than a minute, way less than it takes to talk about flea control or ticks or whether you should [vaccinate a dog for] Lepto; those [behavior] techniques can absolutely save animals’ lives. There’s a bit of a balance, but I really think that once clinicians start to feel more comfortable with the basic tips of behavior, they’re going to feel more able to take care of that [area] of [patient concerns].”