When a Medical Problem is a Behavior Problem

When a Medical Problem is a Behavior Problem

Through the years I have seen so many behavioral cases whose owners have been through multiple trainers, spent thousands of dollars in board and train programs and the problem is the same, and in many instances it is worse. Owners are heartbroken when I tell them the underlying problem is a medical issue.

Studies have shown that 60% of dogs and cats presented to board certified veterinary behaviorists for behavior problems have orthopedic pain and 26% have systemic illness. That means an astounding 86% of behavior problems stem from medical problems. Until that pet’s medical conditions are addressed and pain has been managed, no amount of training is going to solve the problem.

Can you imagine the guilt an owner has when they discover their 7 year old lab that the owners sent a way for a 6 week board because it started showing aggression towards the young children and the other dog in the household has back pain and osteoarthritis? 

Liver disease, diabetes, low thyroid disease and brain tumors are medical issues that are widely known to cause aggression. Again, there is no amount of training or behavioral modification that will resolve these cases.

As we all know, when we experience pain we can have a “short fuse”. We can lash out at our loved ones when we are “triggered” by something they do or say that under normal circumstances we would disregard. Animals are no different.