Behavioral Medicine Clinic treats problem pets

Roger, a 2-year-old mixed breed dog, was wreaking havoc on his owners’ home. His fuzzy face had won their hearts at the local shelter, but the first time they left him alone at home, he chewed his way out of his crate, tore open couch cushions, chewed up the remote control and three pairs of shoes, then spewed the contents of the trash bag all over the house – all within a period of 90 minutes! To make matters worse, he had urinated and defecated in the middle of the living room.

The owners thought Roger was acting out, but after careful examination and thorough history taking, Meghan Herron, DVM, DACVB, director of the Behavioral Medicine Clinic at Ohio State, determined that Roger had separation anxiety, a psychological disorder common to recently adopted rescue and shelter dogs. These dogs may go through severe emotional trauma with the abandonment/rehoming process and bond closely (a bit too closely in this case) with their new owners, making separation from the owners difficult, even panic-inducing.

“Through a combination of medication, environmental changes and training, we were able to help Roger’s owners implement a plan to get him feeling much more comfortable while home alone,” Herron said. “After eight weeks of therapy, he was able to be left at home without destroying things or eliminating in the house.”

If you have pets who are exhibiting behavioral issues, we encourage you to consider the Behavioral Medicine Clinic. Drs. Herron and Shana Gilbert-Gregory treat issues such as:

  • Human-directed aggression
  • Inter-pet aggression
  • Separation anxiety
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Fear/phobias (e.g., thunder, wind)
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Cognitive dysfunction

Initial consultations typically last around two hours and include:

  • Physical examination
  • Observation of pet
  • Detailed written summary and discussion of pet’s behavior
  • Three months of unlimited follow-up by email or phone

Call 614-292-3551 to reach the clinic. A behavior assessment form is available at

This story is from the Veterinary Medical Center's bi-monthly newsletter: Update for Veterinarians.  Download the PDF

Posted July 21, 2014