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AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines


The purpose of these guidelines is to provide practitioners and staff with up-to-date, evidence-based information to ensure that the basic behavioral needs of canine and feline patients are met. More dogs and cats are affected by behavioral problems than any other condition, often resulting in euthanasia, relinquishment of the patient, or chronic suffering. These guidelines were written to help veterinary professionals accomplish the following objectives:1–5

  1. Integrate basic behavioral management into all aspects of clinical practice so that every patient gets the best hands-on care in a low-stress environment.
  2. Understand age-specific normal and abnormal behavior for dogs and cats to ensure developing or existing behavioral problems are recognized and addressed.
  3. Promote routine assessment of behavioral development and changes in behavior through the use of standardized assessment tools.
  4. Provide owners with guidance regarding the most common canine and feline behavioral conditions so clients seek help early (if needed).
  5. Create co-operative patients and superb client-veterinarian- patient relationships so the patient and client can benefit from a lifetime of the best possible care.
  6. Impress upon the entire veterinary health care team the importance of making behavioral management a core competency of the practice.

These guidelines will help readers develop the expertise and confidence to teach clients about their pets’ behavioral needs. If staff and clients are effectively educated regarding pet behavioral needs, veterinarians will create a health care team that produces the best patient outcomes. Improved outcomes translate to increased client retention and decreased frequency of euthanasia. Veterinarians
play a pivotal role in increasing the quality of life for their patients and for their patients’ owners. Knowledge about behavior also reduces the risk of injury for staff and clients and improves staff members’ job satisfaction. More efficient physical examinations, better information
exchange, and staff trained to conduct behavior modification and instructional appointments lead to improved patient care, better case outcomes, and profitability for veterinary practices. These guidelines will help veterinarians become clients’ first source of information so they will not seek services or advice from those not qualified to provide optimal care. (J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 2015; 51:205–221. DOI 10.5326/JAAHA-MS-6527)

Click here to read the full 2015 AAHA and Canine Feline Behavior Management Guidelines

Click here to download the 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines

The Task Force acknowledges the contributions of Mark Dana of the Kanara Consulting Group, LLC, in the preparation of the 2015 AAHA Canine and Feline Behavior Management Guidelines, and the administrative assistance provided by Jennifer Hartman.

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