AVBS focuses on behavioural problems which are generally anxiety related. We provide a behaviour modification program, which is very different to obedience training. Some of the most highly trained dogs still may have an anxiety related behavioural problem that require a behavioural consultation.
We are not saying that obedience training is 'bad' - obedience training is very helpful to teach your dog 'good manners'.
This is a tough question to answer as every case is different. It is also very dependant as to what improvement each owner see's as a 'tolerable' improvement - this is covered in detail at the initial consultation so that we are all on the same page, with realistic expectations.
Unfortunately there is no quick fix, and most behavioural problems that we see take some time for improvement - but there is no 'set time frame'. It depends on a lot of factors including your commitment as the owner. The longterm goal is generally management, rather than a cure.
Whether your pet will need medication will again depend on the case.
If appropriate medication will be discussed during the initial consultation. There are no 'magic' medications that will cure any problems.
Medication alone is generally not helpful, as it needs to be combined with a specific behavioural modification program for best results.
The common anti-anxiety medications that are dispensed will not 'zonk' your pet, but instead they are aimed at lowering the anxiety levels. this will enable your pet to learn what you are applying with the behaviour modification program.
It is important we don’t just keep dispensing medication without reviewing how our patient is responding first. Once we feel the animal is stable, it is a legal requirement by the veterinary surgeon’s board that we see your pet every 6 months. This means once we feel happy with how their progress is going, we can give repeats on medications for 6 months.
Veterinary approval is always needed to re-dispense medication. As mentioned above, legally the vet needs to see your pet every 6 months to get medication even after your pet is stable. Before your pet is stable, the vet needs to be seen more frequently to get a thorough assessment on progress to ensure your pet is on the correct dose and medication type and to ensure there are no adverse reactions/we are getting the desired improvement from the medication. If you run out of medication prior to your recheck appointment, circumstances depending, we can sometimes re-dispense the medication to get you through until your revisit with the vet, however this decision lies with the individual vet and needs to have veterinary approval before doing so.
It is very important to never suddenly stop your behaviour medications unless otherwise advised by the vet. Because the aim of medication is to alter the amount and type of neurochemicals within the brain and to increase those neurochemicals that can help “happiness”, stopping suddenly can cause a rebound effect and can cause your pet to feel a surge of worsening anxiety and irritability. Gradually weaning off allows the brain and subsequently the body to adjust to the reduction of “happy” neurochemicals slowly without there being a sudden let down of not having them.
This will depend on what type of medication is given. Every dog/cat is different also. As a general rule, we tend to say baseline or long acting medication may take 8 weeks to see any true effect. Any time there is any dose change, this altered dose may take another 8 weeks to take effect. Some pets can respond quicker than this. Short acting medication usually has a more instantaneous effect and a change can usually be seen one and a half to two hours after dosing and usually can last between 8-12hours, depending on the medication type. If there is no effect seen with either long term or short acting medication, it may be that the type of medication needs to be altered or a change in dose may be needed. This would then need to be discussed with the vet.
The tricky thing with behaviour medication is there is no “one size fits all” option. What works for one dog/cat may not work for the other, even if we are dealing with the same type of behavioural issue. If a medication is not working, it may be that we haven’t given it long enough to take effect, the dose may be incorrect or we may be targeting the wrong
receptors in the brain for that individual animal so the drug type may need to be altered. As a general rule, we have four possible outcomes when looking at a medication:
1) we will see great improvement and there is no need to alter the dose rate
2) we see some improvement but feel a dose change may be needed
3) there is no improvement at all
4) the animal’s behaviour deteriorates and gets worse. Should this happen, please don’t feel discouraged. This simply means we need to find a more suitable medication for your pet’s brain, and we have plenty of options to choose from.
Because your GP vet has not seen your dog and it has not been them specifically prescribing the medication for your pet’s anxiety disorder, your GP vet legally can not dispense medication to you without consultation.