Veterinarians deal with a lot more than just pet injuries, illnesses, and other physical issues. A lot of animals they treat are suffering from psychological problems, too. 

  • First, there’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dr. Walter Burghardt is chief of behavioral medicine at the Holland Military Working Dog Hospital. And he says that a lot of bomb-sniffing canines came back from their first tour in Iraq and appeared to be withdrawn, and fearful of social situations - just like a lot of human GIs. But vets are developing a training program to help the animals overcome their anxiety. 

  • Another psychological veterinary problem: Pet pigs with anorexia AKA “Thin Sow Syndrome.” Experts say that social and environmental stresses – like loud storms, or isolation – can push pigs to starve themselves, and become so active, that they burn off what calories they eat, and the weight just drops off. The fix: The pig may have to be moved to a warmer environment, and fed the high-calorie diet given to nursing mothers until they start putting on weight again. 

  • Now, imagine a vet having to deal with an orangutan having a nicotine fit. Zookeepers in Asia were trying to help a 13-year-old ape named Tori quit smoking. She picked up the habit after mimicking humans who threw still-burning cigarette butts into her enclosure. Zookeepers finally had to move her to an island with no human visitors to help her quit for good. 

  • And the final psychological problem vets often face: O-C-D cats. According to PetMD, cats can develop a number of compulsive behaviors, like pacing, excessive grooming, and constantly chewing on fabric. Vets believe a lot of cats use these behaviors as coping mechanisms. But some can have physical causes. For example, pets that chew fabric could have a thiamine deficiency. So, a visit to the vet is a good idea if you notice any changes or unusual behaviors.