Frequently Asked Questions

There is no question too big or too small for our veterinary team. Below are some answers to our most common questions.

Our services proudly reach pets across the nation and beyond.

At Virtual Veterinary Behavior Medicine, we get a ton of interesting questions from pet parents. Below are some FAQs that might help answer any questions or concerns. Please feel free to call us at 704-231-1512 for any other concerns you might have about your pet.


What is a veterinary behaviorist?

A veterinarian can become specialized in the diagnosis and management of behavioral problems in pets. To become board-certified, a veterinarian must complete additional training, including a three-year residency program after four years of veterinary school, publish a research paper, and pass a two-day board exam covering various species and their related medical and behavioral problems. There are currently around 100 total veterinary behavior specialists practicing in the United States. Dr. O’Brian proudly joined this distinguished group in 2021.

Are medications part of the treatment plan?

Due to the nature of the pets that veterinary behaviorists see in practice, medication is often one part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Some pets may benefit from medications aimed at lowering fear or anxiety or treating phobias, aggression, etc. This is never a required portion of the treatment plan but may be presented as a potential option.

Can Dr. O’Brian prescribe medications for my pet?

Prescribing will be done by your primary care veterinarian. To legally prescribe medications, Dr. O’Brian must see a pet in person. This is why we partner closely with your primary care veterinarian to work together to implement a treatment plan. A full plan, including any potential medication recommendations, will be sent to the pet parent and the primary care veterinarian. If a treatment route including medications is pursued, the primary care veterinarian can prescribe these medications on the recommendation of Dr. O’Brian.

How can Dr. O’Brian help my pet without seeing him or her in person?

Prior to our consultation, Dr. O’Brian will review a comprehensive behavior questionnaire filled out by the primary care veterinarian, in addition to the pet’s full medical history. Armed with this information and any follow-up information provided during the initial consultation, Dr. O’Brian is well suited to make plan recommendations for your pet. The most important aspect of caring for a pet’s behavioral concerns is getting a thorough history and talking to the pet’s parent about recommendations. This makes virtual appointments not too dissimilar to in-person behavior consults.

Okay, I understand how Dr. O’Brian can help my pet virtually, but how does your trainer help virtually?

Virtual training became very popular during the pandemic, and this expansion allowed us to see that virtual training works! With technology being as advanced as it is today, we can clearly see you and your pet and communicate without difficulty during sessions. Many of our dogs and cats may act differently with a new person in the room, whether they are overly excited, nervous, or aggressive, which can lead to less productive training sessions. Virtual appointments allow us to see your pet as is during training. Additionally, many training issues, such as leash reactivity, are treated by starting with baseline skills that are developed in calm settings, such as your home.

How do I know if my pet needs a veterinary behaviorist or a trainer?
  • Veterinary behaviorists are uniquely qualified to treat emotional disorders in pets, including anxiety, fear, aggression, pain-related issues, senility, and other problems.
  • While well-qualified trainers are equipped to help animals with fear and anxiety, a consult with a veterinary behaviorist is recommended for an initial evaluation and development of a treatment plan to first address the issues. Follow-up training is immensely valuable for many pets to help implement the suggested plan and get immediate feedback while working with your pet.
Can I pursue training without a behavior consult?

Absolutely! Training can be combined with the behavior appointments or can be completed independently!

Why do I need a veterinary behaviorist to help instead of my primary care veterinarian?

Nobody wants to find themselves in a situation of needing a veterinary specialist. It means your pet is experiencing an issue that is more severe or complicated and is best suited for someone with extensive training in a particular field. Just as if your dog were to injure their knee and need treatment from a board-certified veterinary surgeon for the optimal outcome or your cat was to develop a murmur and need evaluation from a board-certified veterinary cardiologist, we are here to help with behavior concerns. Behavior is what we do every day, every week and every year, and we are best suited to give dogs and cats the best chance for a positive outcome.

What are your payment options?

We accept all major credit cards and CareCredit. Many pet insurance providers also cover behavioral care. It is always best to check with your provider first before assuming behavioral care will be covered.