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Studying feline behavior, Penn Vet Behavior Medicine

Behavior Medicine Research


Why do cats jump into boxes? Why do dogs want to jump up on their humans? Penn Vet's Behavior Medicine team is engaged in numerous research projects to better understand animal behavior and how humans and their animals can interact in optimal ways.

Our research is focused on clinical behavior problems and their relationship with medical problems, as well as low-stress handling of patients during veterinary visits.

There are currently a number of active research projects at Penn Vet Behavior Medicine:

Behavior Medicine

  • "Influence of environmental background and behavior in clinics on diagnosis and treatment outcomes in canine behavioral medicine cases": The goal of this project is to identify factors related to dogs, their owners, and the environment in which they live that may provide the clinician with information about the potential outcome of a behavior case. In a preliminary study we found that some characteristics of a dog, his owner, or the environment in which they live increase the risk that the patient may be re-homed or euthanized. Following the same research line, we want to know at this point if similar factors can predict whether the behavior treatment of a problem is more or less likely to be successful. The data collection phase of this project has already been completed, so we are not currently recruiting dogs for this study.

  • “Cognitive studies in dogs Affected with Mucopolysaccharidosis Type I (MPS I)”: The study analyzes the change in behavior and cognition that dogs with MPS I, a disease that also affects humans, can experience. The data collection for this project has been completed and preliminary data have been presented.

  • "The Efficacy of Dexmedetomidine Oromucosal Gel to Decrease Stress in Dogs During Veterinary Visits": A third project is focused on the efficacy of dexmedetomidine oromucosal gel to decrease stress in dogs during veterinary visits. As all pet caregivers know, veterinary visits can be an important source of stress for our patients. We are studying the ability that a medication administered directly by the owner prior to the visit has in decreasing this stress.