Veterinarians deal with a lot more than just pet injuries, illnesses, and other physical issues. A lot of animals they treat are suffering from psychological problems, too.
First, there’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dr. Walter Burghardt is chief of behavioral medicine at the Holland Military Working Dog Hospital. And he says that a lot of bomb-sniffing canines came back from their first tour in Iraq and appeared to be withdrawn, and fearful of social situations - just like a lot of human GIs. But vets are developing a training program to help the animals overcome their anxiety.
Another psychological veterinary problem: Pet pigs with anorexia AKA “Thin Sow Syndrome.” Experts say that social and environmental stresses – like loud storms, or isolation – can push pigs to starve themselves, and become so active, that they burn off what calories they eat, and the weight just drops off. The fix: The pig may have to be moved to a warmer environment, and fed the high-calorie diet given to nursing mothers until they start putting on weight again.
Now, imagine a vet having to deal with an orangutan having a nicotine fit. Zookeepers in Asia were trying to help a 13-year-old ape named Tori quit smoking. She picked up the habit after mimicking humans who threw still-burning cigarette butts into her enclosure. Zookeepers finally had to move her to an island with no human visitors to help her quit for good.
And the final psychological problem vets often face: O-C-D cats. According to PetMD, cats can develop a number of compulsive behaviors, like pacing, excessive grooming, and constantly chewing on fabric. Vets believe a lot of cats use these behaviors as coping mechanisms. But some can have physical causes. For example, pets that chew fabric could have a thiamine deficiency. So, a visit to the vet is a good idea if you notice any changes or unusual behaviors.