As I have pondered the “birth” of our new website, I have been thinking about what I want pet owners/guardians to know about veterinary behavior. There is so much that I want to share that I find it hard to find the starting line. Through this process, the one phrase that keeps coming to my mind is Behavioral Wellness.
For many years, as veterinarians, we have emphasized the importance of healthy pets. Good nutrition. Vaccines. Heartworm preventive. Flea control. But for many patients, we have not stopped to ask: Are they behaviorally well?
We can begin to evaluate behavioral wellness by taking a closer look at the daily lives of our pets. What does their day look like? Are they spending their day laying on top of a sofa looking out the window? Are they tethered to a tree behind the house? Hopefully neither of those. Instead, we should be asking: Are they fulfilling their full potential? Are they finding enjoyment in their day? Are they frustrated? Are they bored? Are they ……dare we say……happy???
Animal emotions are hard to evaluate in a scientific way. There is continuous discussion in our community regarding how we best measure these experiences for our pets. But I am encouraged that we are asking the questions. I am encouraged that we are working hard to find the answers. I am a part of this process. I help my clients begin to find answers to these questions for their pet on a daily basis. I help strengthen and repair the bond between the pet and the human. I am privileged to be a part of this process.
Come join me on this journey. Let’s explore these questions together. Take a look at your dog, your cat, your parrot, your guinea pig or any other animal companion that you share your life with. Ask yourself today. Are they behaviorally well?