Psychology in regard to animals is something that has not been widely discussed until recently. There are actually many therapists who specialize in this field, not to mention books on the subject; such as "The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow and Empathy- and Why They Matter", by Ph.D Marc Bekoff and Jane Goodall. Another volume by R. H., M.R.C.V.S. Smythe is titled simply "Animal Psychology". The are countless other reads on the topic. But one common question is, are animals capable of mental illness?
Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications for animals? As strange as it may sound, these medications are sometimes prescribed for dogs and cats with behavioral issues, reports Gawker.
"We definitely see mental health issues in dogs and cats, not necessarily the same as in humans, but I do diagnose and treat dogs and cats for anxiety problems, phobias, compulsive disorders (similar to OCD), aggression, etc.", says Meghan E. Herron, veterinary behaviorist, Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Ohio State University, according to Google.
While human medications like Valium, tricyclic antidepressants) or anti-depressants (fluoxetine [Prozac], clomipramine) are sometimes prescribed for cats and dogs, doctors discourage owners from giving these to pets unless they are prescribed by a veterinarian, as there are risks involved.
It is a shame that pets are limited in how much they can communicate.
Hugh McClelland, emergency veterinarian, Affliliated Pet Emergency Services, Gainesville, FL, believes that animals do suffer from mental illness, but points out that it is difficult to prove. He says, "you can't ask the animal about his thoughts, feelings or perceptions. But you can observe his behavior. Abnormal behavior such as excessive aggression, fearfulness, or destruction can indicate anguish or distress".
When seeking out an animal behaviorist, it is important to make sure the person has the proper credentials. Look for certain letters after the person's name. "The gold standard in the US is DVM (or VMD) followed by DACVB".
It seems that people are constantly becoming aware of ways in which the animal kingdom is similar to mankind. No doubt, discoveries like these will only enhance the bond that humans have with their pets.