Behaviour change – an introduction

10 Behaviour change – an introduction

Consciousness = alertness + awareness.

The goal when investigating a case of abnormal behaviour is to rule out organic neurological causes, e.g. metabolic encephalopathy, brain tumour, pain, before concluding that the behaviour change is psychological in nature.

In veterinary medicine, consciousness is generally regarded as a synonym for an alert mental state without taking into account what the animal may or may not be able to perceive, interpret or distinguish. If describing an altered consciousness (alertness or awareness), describe what is abnormal about the animal.

Normal behaviour is assessed against that occurring in others of the same species, breed and age group (Fig. 10.1). Consulting relevant textbooks is recommended.

Avoid anthropomorphism: withdrawing the upper lips horizontally to show canines and incisors has been given the description of smiling or grinning. It is done, often by Dalmatians, in response to a command or interaction with humans. It is described as a passive defensive behaviour or an anxiety-induced behaviour.


Sleep consists of cycles of rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) phases (Table 10.1).

Seizures can be triggered in slow wave sleep.

Stay updated, free articles. Join our Telegram channel

Sep 3, 2016 | Posted by in SMALL ANIMAL | Comments Off on Behaviour change – an introduction

Full access? Get Clinical Tree

Get Clinical Tree app for offline access