BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioural Medicine


  • Francesca Riccomini

Edited byDebra F. Horowitz and Daniel S. Mills Published by the British Small Animal Veterinary Association , 2009, 2nd edition, paperback , 324 pages, Price £74.00 , ISBN-13: 978 1 905319 15 2

As the editors point out, in the seven years since the first edition of the BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioural Medicine appeared, the field of companion animal behaviour and problems associated with it has moved on significantly. Its public profile has increased and veterinary involvement is no longer a matter of individual choice, more is rightly expected of professionals at every level. The expanded content of the manual reflects this situation.

The initial chapters focus on the relationship between medical and metabolic issues and behaviour and the integration of behavioural awareness into everyday practice. The “ladder of aggression” (pages 14–15) which appeared in the first edition has been particularly useful and now features sketches of the various behaviours that are indicative of canine stress. This is a welcome development as are the following chapters which discuss the “Basic requirements for good behavioural health and welfare” in dogs and cats. Chapter 5 “Training and learning protocols” provides a comprehensive account of this important topic together with helpful commonplace examples and should be required reading for everyone in the veterinary team. The emphasis on welfare and prevention continues with chapters on “preventive behavioural medicine” firstly for dogs then cats before problems associated with their management are introduced.

Subsequent specific problem topics are dealt with in detail. Beginning with house soiling, a chapter being devoted to each of our two main pet species, problem behaviours associated with senior pets, the role of stress in veterinary behavioural medicine, separation-related issues and sound and situational sensitivies are included. The next section on aggression comprises three chapters. As befits the complexity and significance of canine aggression the problem when it involves familiar people and animals and unfamiliar individuals is addressed separately and in considerable detail (Chapters 17 and 18) before Chapter 19 concentrates on “Aggression in cats”.

“Repetitive and compulsive behaviour in dogs and cats” is then followed by an expanded chapter on pharmacology and pheromone therapy, which should be of considerable value to general practitioners, veterinary nursing staff and behaviour counsellors. The penultimate chapter is “Complementary therapies” before another welcome addition, the final chapter entitled “Managing and rehoming the rescue dog and cat”.

The layout of the manual is extremely user-friendly with a wide range of well presented photographs, diagrams and tables that support the emphasis on practical application as well as the importance of understanding the theory and principles underlying each topic. The glossary of behavioural terms at the end of the book is likely to be useful to those who are unfamiliar with this field and the client questionnaires contained in a subsequent appendix of particular value to anyone either undertaking behavioural consultations for the first time or contemplating doing so.

An excellent innovation is the inclusion of an accompanying CD containing the client questionnaires, the Companion Animal Behaviour Therapy Study Group (CATSG) referral form and a number of handouts. Grouped under four headings, “behaviour problems”, “new pets”, “owner training aids” and “welfare and miscellaneous”, included in the latter is for example information on environmental enrichment for cats and dogs both at home and in animal shelters, these should be informative and helpful for both professionals and owners. Although copyright remains with the publisher, permission is granted for their use as a supportive aid to clients when the handouts are printed and given as part of a consultation and throughout a reference list of those that are relevant appears at the end of each chapter.

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Thus there is much in this manual for anyone in general practice, including veterinarians and nursing and support staff at every level in addition to those with a specific interest in companion animal behaviour and behaviour counselling. However, others involved in rescue work and any area where the welfare of pets is a concern should also find this a useful textbook. It should be considered essential reading for veterinary students, student nurses and those taking allied courses as well as being present on every veterinary practice bookshelf. It represents good value for money and those who already have the first edition would be well advised to invest in its updated and expanded successor.

Francesca Riccomini

Francesca Riccomini is an experienced general practitioner and Certified Clinical Animal Behaviourist with a special interest in companion animal welfare.