A veterinary behaviorist is a veterinarian who has completed additional training in animal behavior after veterinary school. This additional training occurs in a residency program where the veterinarian studies ethology, psychopharmacology, animal welfare, statistics, research methods, learning theory, genetics, training methods, cognition, and more while also teaching students, seeing cases, and engaging in research.
Seeing a veterinary behaviorist is like seeing other veterinary specialists in that the goal of the initial consultation is to understand what is causing the behavioral issues, the prognosis, and to go over treatment options so you make an informed decision. During some of these consultations, a physical exam, certain stimuli tests, or diagnostics such as bloodwork may be performed. Each case is different and Dr. Levine decides what is needed/appropriate at the time of the actual consultation. Dr. Levine reviews the medical and behavioral history forms prior to the visit. The first consultation typically lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. It is very important that you arrive on time to your visit. We are unable to extend appointment times as we do not want any anxious or fearful pets waiting or needing to stay in the clinic environment any longer than necessary.
Each case is different but; in general, treatment may consist of any one or a combination of the following: behavior modification, training, management, safety tool implementation, medications, supplements, pheromones, massage, alpha stim treatments and more. In most cases, several options are explained to you, including the pros and cons of each. We understand that every family and pet is different and depending on your lifestyle, there is no one size fits all.
For more involved cases, a separate appointment will be set up after the consultation to implement the treatment as Dr. Levine needs at least a week to put a plan together. For other patients, she may recommend going straight to her staff trainer who will implement her recommendations. There are some cases where medications or supplements may be sufficient as treatment OR the pet may not be ready for behavior modification or training until the supplements or medications start to work. All costs associated with treatment are discussed at the consultation, so there will never be any surprises.
Additionally, sometimes a physical problem may be contributing to a behavioral issue, in which case you may be referred to a specialist or back to your family veterinarian for diagnostics.
Everyone feels differently about using medications for themselves, let alone their pets! Medications have saved many lives and have truly improved the quality of life for countless furry friends. Dr. Levine is an expert in behavioral medications used to help treat a variety of behavioral issues. Dr. Levine is also very interested in and has a lot of respect for alternative and integrative treatments. Dr. Levine will never force medications on anyone and is happy to discuss alternative options. We carry supplements and alpha stim treatments in our clinic and can guide clients on where to purchase other alternative or integrative treatment options.
It is always ideal for patients to be seen in person. If bringing your pet to the clinic is simply not an option because he or she is too terrified or too aggressive for you to handle, you can ask our receptionist about setting up a remote consultation ( e.g Facetime, Skype etc.). Unfortunately, there are some limitations of what we can do when we see clients remotely and those will be discussed when you call to schedule your appointment.
Every case is different. Some clients only need to come for the original consultation and then rechecks can be done by phone. Other clients may be asked to come back for in-clinic rechecks with Dr. Levine one to three times after the initial consultation or may not need to see Dr. Levine at all but will be advised to come back and work with her staff trainer. We strive to be as flexible as possible while simultaneously providing a high level of proper medical and behavioral care.