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Treatments affecting dog behaviour: something to be aware of
  1. Carlo Siracusa, DVM, MS, PhD, DECAWBM, DACVB
  1. Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA; e-mail:

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ALTHOUGH dog behaviour problems are a leading cause of relinquishment and euthanasia (Salman and others 1998), only 11 per cent of veterinarians surveyed in a USA study strongly agreed that dog behaviour is their responsibility, initiating a discussion regarding behaviour problems in dogs (Patronek and Dodman 1999). Aside from specific treatments for behaviour problems, several medical and surgical treatments that are routinely prescribed by general veterinary practitioners can affect the behaviour of dogs. Phenylpropanolamine, commonly used for the treatment of urinary sphincter hypotonus in dogs, can cause restlessness and increased irritability; phenobarbital, a drug used to control seizures, may provoke anxiety and agitation; and diphenhydramine, a well-known and frequently dispensed antihistamine, can be the cause of unwanted excitement and nervousness in canine patients(Plumb 2008). New and innovative drugs can cause undesired behaviour changes too; oclacitinib (Apoquel; Zoetis), used to control pruritus in dogs with allergic dermatitis, has been found to be associated with increased aggression (Cosgrove and others 2013). Surgery can also be a very stressful event for dogs and cause major behavioural changes (Siracusa and others 2008, Wiese 2015). These are just a few examples of the behaviour changes caused by common veterinary treatments and procedures.

Behaviour changes determined by increased physical and/or emotional arousal, that is, increased anxiety, reactivity or nervousness, or post-surgical dysphoria, may increase the risk of an aggressive …

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