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PET PSYCHIATRIST

A study demonstrates that more than 80% of our cats and dogs experience anxiety at some point in their lifetime. So how do you know what your pet needs? What’s the difference between a Pet Psychiatrist and a mobile Veterinary Behaviour Counsellor?

What is a Pet Psychiatrist?

A Pet Psychiatrist is often seen as a last resort, however as a Fear Free mobile vet with qualifications in Veterinary Behaviour, we can incorporate some of these benefits early.  

 

Many behavioural problems can be addressed much quicker and easier if presented early. Medication may or may not be required, but it is an option. As a Veterinary Behaviour Counsellor, we can bridge the gap between trainers and Behaviour Specialists

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An alternative solution to Pet Psychiatrist

What's the difference? Well, quite a lot.

 

It’s true that both Vet Counsellors and Vet Behaviourists work with owners to determine why their pet is acting a certain way, whether this is ‘normal’ behaviour, and how to implement changes to get life back on track.

 

It’s also true that Vet Counsellors and Vet Behaviourists complete a five- or six-year Veterinary degree (at a minimum) and must be registered to practice Veterinary Medicine in Australia. Following registration, they can choose to complete additional study and sit exams in an area of interest. If they pass, they gain membership to the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (ANZCVS), recognised as a middle-tier level of knowledge.

Annnd that’s where the similarities end.

Veterinarians with a Membership (MANZCVS) to the ANZCVS alone are not specialists and, legally, shouldn’t infer they are. Veterinarians with their MANZCVS might refer to themselves having an 'interest' in a topic, as a consultant or counsellor, but never as a 'specialist'.

Vet Behaviourists are Specialists

 

Specialists are Veterinarians who go on to achieve the highest level of veterinary knowledge possible, anywhere in the world. Often, Specialists will have undertaken a one-year internship and two to five-year residency (studying under the guidance of a Specialist and conducting peer-reviewed research) before being examined for their Fellowship to ANZCVS. Often they will choose to sit additional exams with either the European or American Specialist Boards as well. Whew!

 

Fellowship exams are notoriously tricky, with candidates commonly taking three to six months to study full-time for their exams. While the intensity of the learning may peak at this stage, Specialists NEVER stop learning throughout their careers.

 

The term 'Specialist' is carefully protected because it takes a heck load of work to earn!

 

Specialists continue to be leaders in their field through ongoing research and conducting studies, as well as teaching and mentoring aspiring vet professionals. This is why it’s so controversial for unqualified, belief-based trainers to refer to themselves as 'dog psychologists' or 'cat psychologists' or '[insert breed] specialists'.

 

A Specialist is the most knowledgeable person in their field. Currently (September 2023), Australia has only four registered Veterinary Behaviour Specialists:

 

  • Dr. Jacqui Ley

  • Dr. Kersti Seksel

  • Dr. Trepheena Hunter

  • Dr. Gabrielle Carter

 

We may refer you to Melbourne's Dr. Jacqui, Dr. Trepheena or Dr Gabrielle if you wish, or if your case is outside the scope of Dr. Channy's knowledge. In most cases, a referral is a positive thing. It ensures no stone is left unturned in securing your pet's emotional wellbeing.

Why does all this matter?

 

Unfortunately, the pet training industry is not regulated. It might surprise you, but anybody could call themselves a pet behaviour trainer or animal behaviourist at this point.

 

This has led to passionate folks conducting belief-based training, which can cause deterioration in the pet-owner relationship and, worse, in pet mental health. They may sound confident but, ultimately, you’ll be wasting your time and money.

 

It’s important that whoever’s helping your furry family member is qualified to do so, and if not a Veterinarian, a member of a professional group such as the PPGA

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