Small Animal Services: Behavioral Medicine

The Behavioral Medicine Service is located in the Veterinary Health and Wellness Center at the Veterinary Hospital. We specialize in the treatment of behavior disorders in companion animals. These include:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Elimination problems
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Many other behavioral issues in dogs and cats

When seen at the Behavioral Medicine Service, patients are evaluated with their owners and a management program is developed. This generally consists of specific instructions regarding environmental management and behavior modification techniques. After a medical evaluation, behavioral medication may also be recommended. Telephone or internet consultation services are not available through the Behavioral Medicine Service until after a patient has been seen in our clinic.

The Director of the Behavioral Medicine Service is Dr. Margaret Gruen, a board-certified veterinary behavior specialist.

Download instructions on how to greet a dog.

Download instructions on how to greet a dog.

Learn About Our Service: 

We look forward to working with you to help solve your pet’s behavior problem. Please follow the instructions below to set up an appointment for a dog or cat related problem. Call the Health and Wellness Center client services desk at 919.513.6999 to schedule your appointment. Appointments are generally scheduled on Mondays and Thursdays. If you are a current client, scroll down to the next section.

 Please fill out a behavioral history form for your pet, which allows the doctor to know about your situation before your appointment. Download the following form (canine or feline), fill it out electronically, save it, and email it as an attachment to us. Alternately, if you prefer, you may print out the form, then fill it out and fax or mail it to us, choose either the Canine Behavioral History Form or the Feline Behavioral History Form.  Please complete the relevant form and send to us so that we have it in our office at least one week prior to your appointment.

 Our fees are as follows:

  • Appointment (Dog or Cat) cases, $585 (approximately 2-2.5 hours)
  • Second pet fee: Dog $234/ Cat $117  (for additional time required if 2 pets from the same household come to the appointment; please note that 2 persons are needed for safe management of 2 dogs)
  • Recheck Appointment $162 (45-60 minutes)
  • Annual Appointment (includes evaluating chart notes, lab results, medication), $162
  • Phone Recheck (20-30 minutes), $83

 We accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover Card, American Express, cash and checks. We also offer CareCredit financing through GE Money Bank. Plans available are 6 months no interest or extended financing from 24 to 60 months. Applications can be submitted online at to receive an immediate response.

After the initial consultation, we welcome your brief phone calls and e-mail communications for progress reports, clarification, or questions, and are always happy to communicate with your pet’s primary veterinarian.

Please let us know by phone or e-mail if you have any questions. We would like to help you and your pet.

Some patients continue to do best on medication after the first year. For these patients, we would be glad to continue to prescribe medication but require an annual office recheck visit to the Behavioral Medicine Service. We also need to know that your pet is in good health and is monitored annually by his/her primary veterinarian. If we have not seen your pet in over a year, please call us to schedule a 60 minute recheck appointment. Prescriptions cannot be filled for patients whose records are not up-to-date. Please bring with you to that recheck appointment the following:

  • Your Pet
  • A copy of your pet’s medical record, from your primary veterinarian.
  • A copy of wellness lab results (CBC, Chemistry profile). This may be performed by your primary veterinarian at your pet’s annual wellness visit or we can assist at the time of your visit

Prescription Refills

Medication may be recommended for your pet, as part of the behavioral program. We would be glad to manage the prescribed medication for a year following the initial visit. If a refill is needed during this time, please call or e-mail with your specific request (your name, pet’s name, pharmacy name and number, medication name and amount of medication given daily), and a note indicating how your pet is doing. Thereafter, we will need to see your pet in our office once each year in order to continue to prescribe medication.

Frequently Asked and Resources 

Frequently Asked Questions

When am I going to see a doctor?

Please note that our Interns and Residents (aka House Officers), are fully licensed doctors with the same education and credentials as a general practitioner. There will ALWAYS be a doctor in charge of and supervising all aspects of patient care at the VH. In many cases multiple specialists may consult on a patient should their expertise be required. Typically, a fourth-year student will first collect a detailed history and present this information to the doctor in charge. You will then have an opportunity to discuss things in detail with the doctor and together you and he/she will formulate a diagnostic and treatment plan.

What does it mean to be a ‘teaching hospital’?
In addition to having access to cutting edge diagnostic tools and therapeutic alternatives, the most unique aspect of our facility is that every patient is a learning opportunity for our students. Much of this teaching is done ‘behind the scenes’ as we discuss your pets’ diagnostics and care. What this means to you, the client, is that the process may take somewhat longer than it would at a private veterinarian practice. However, this also means that we have the ability to consult with multiple doctors and a variety of specialists in complex cases.

My doctor introduced him/herself as an Intern or a Resident – what does that mean?
It is important to understand that every intern or resident at the VH is a fully licensed doctor with the same education and credentials as a general practitioner. Interns and residents have chosen to pursue additional, in-depth postgraduate clinical training and were selected by us in a highly competitive international application process. We think you are in great hands!

Is there food and water available for my pet while I wait?
Feel free to ask the front desk for a bowl if you would like to offer water to your pet. However, we do ask that you refrain from feeding your pet. Many procedures require sedation or medication with drugs that could upset your companion’s stomach if there is food present. If your pet must eat for medical reasons (eg. diabetes), please ask the front desk to inform the doctor in charge and make sure they are aware of this first.

I am finished with my visit, why do I have to wait?
One of our goals for our clients is that everyone leaves with detailed discharge instructions. We write our discharge instructions in as detailed manner as possible to help summarize the information covered during the visit and give you specific instructions as to medications, diet, activity restriction, and any other pertinent aspect of care. It may take us some additional time to write these for you; however, this can significantly ease the transition home and back to your regular veterinarian.

You are a State facility, so why are your fees so high?
The VH is a not-for-profit health care center and receives less than 2% of operating costs from the the State of North Carolina. The majority of our operating costs are paid by client fees and donations. In fact, many of the state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment options we offer are only possible because of generous gifts from our clients. Our fees are set to cover the balance of our operating costs, and we are always looking for ways to provide better service at lower cost. Total costs are comparable to those of veterinarian specialists in private practice.


If you do not have a primary veterinarian you can search for one here: North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association

Additional resources may also be found at the NC State College of Veterinary Medicine’s website.