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Medical and metabolic influences on behavioural disorders

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Abstract

The border between medically and non-medically related behaviour problems is becoming less well defined as more information is available on the mechanistic aspects of behaviour. The identification of such medical factors in the expression of behaviour depends heavily on the accuracy of the behavioural and medical analysis. This chapter looks at how medical conditions may affect behaviour, clinical approach, how behaviour influences health status.

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Figures

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1.2 A computed tomography scan image showing a homogenously enhanced, well defined, round, broad-based lesion located in the region of the left piriform lobe. The patient was presented for aggression in the absence of other obvious clinical signs. Physical and neurological examination did not reveal any abnormality and the results of routine blood tests were within the normal range. Section of the brain revealing a nodular, well demarcated, unencapsulated mass (1 × 1 × 0.7 cm) between the mesencephalon and the left temporal lobe.
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1.3 A dog with a painful paw may react in an uncharacteristically defensive manner. The veterinary surgeon should be aware of behavioural changes that may be linked to physical signs.
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1.4 Evaluation of behaviour. When answering the following questions a trend to mostly left-sided marks suggests a consistent behavioural pattern, whereas a trend to the right indicates less consistency and a greater probability that there is an underlying medical condition. This should be taken only as a guide, but a strong bias to the right should prompt an increased depth of medical investigation even in the relative absence of conventional physical indicators of disease.
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1.6 How far to investigate? The clinical evaluation of a patient presented for a change in behaviour should simultaneously include a behavioural and a medical examination. Once basic medical data have been obtained, behavioural assessment may help to decide whether additional medical tests should be performed. As a general rule, the more directly and consistently linked the behaviour and the external cues are, the more likely it is that an organic condition is not involved.
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1.7 Lick dermatitis/granuloma in a German Shepherd Dog, a condition that could result from medical and non-medical factors (i.e. a type of stereotypic or compulsive behaviour). The behavioural history did not reveal any environmental cues that could explain the occurrence of this self-mutilating behaviour. Additional neurological examination including electrophysiological techniques confirmed a sensory neuropathy.
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1.8 A number of different factors combine to contribute to overall risk for feline idiopathic cystitis.

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