THE American Veterinary Medical Association has suggested that 15 per cent of clients are lost to a practice due to unresolved behavioural problems in their animals. It is therefore important that the general practitioner appreciates the basics of animal behaviour and its effective management. Noise fears and phobias are among the most common behavioural problems, but are frequently left untreated or ineffectively managed. In both humans and dogs, it seems that the treatment of fears and phobias is often left until they have developed into multiple problems. This further compromises an animal's welfare and also limits the prognosis. Early identification and intervention is essential and screening for these and other common behavioural problems should form part of an annual health check. Expertise in behaviour is not a prerequisite for this — simply asking an owner whether their animal has developed any fears or problem behaviours in the past year, and having appropriate procedures in place to deal with a positive response to this question, would be a useful routine in general practice. This article reviews current understanding about noise fears in pets, and provides guidance for the practitioner on how short-term alleviation and, where possible, longer-term resolution may be achieved.
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