Animals Now Have Comprehensive Health Care as First Veterinary Textbook on Mental Health Published

Aug 23, 2005, 01:00 ET from Franklin D. McMillan, D.V.M.

    LOS ANGELES, Aug. 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Mental health care isn't just for
 humans anymore. Mental Health and Well-being in Animals, published this month
 by Blackwell Publishing, is the first textbook to be written on mental health
 in animals.  Recent research has now clearly shown that psychological and
 emotional issues once believed important only for people-happiness, stress
 management, the mind-body connection, emotional suffering, mental illness,
 emotional abuse, and mental cruelty -- are experienced by animals.  With
 writings by the world's leading authorities in the fields of animal emotion
 research, animal behavior, cognitive science, neuroscience, and veterinary
 medicine, this landmark textbook ushers in a new era of animal care and
 establishes mental health as a bona fide field of animal health care.
     Franklin D. McMillan, D.V.M., on the adjunct faculty of the Western
 University of Health Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine and the
 editor-author of the text, noted that, "Until very recently, mental health
 issues in animals were important only when they caused pets to do things that
 their owners would disapprove of-so-called 'misbehavior' -- that would then be
 dealt with by training techniques to 'correct' the behavior. And mental health
 concerns for farm animals, laboratory and research animals, and captive birds
 weren't even heard of."  He added, "We now know we can make the lives and
 emotional well-being of animals much better than we could in the past, and
 directing our efforts at what goes on in their heads is the key to maximizing
 their quality of life."
     Throughout the history of medicine and psychology the scientific community
 as a whole had given no meaningful credence to the concern of mental health in
 animals, often simply dismissing it as naive anthropomorphism. Jaak Panksepp,
 a neuroscientist at Bowling Green State University and the discoverer of
 laughter in rats, said, "The scientific evidence supporting animal emotions is
 now overwhelming. After all, every drug used to treat emotional and
 psychiatric disorders in humans was first developed and found effective in
 animals. This kind of research would obviously have no value if animals were
 incapable of experiencing these emotional states."
     McMillan stresses that the establishment of a field of mental health in
 animals does not only mean that pets and other animals will receive care for
 emotional distress and mental illnesses, but also that "we now have the
 knowledge and tools to help animals enjoy lives that are fulfilled rather than
 just physically healthy."
     Dr. Franklin D. McMillan is associated with Western University of Health
 Sciences College of Veterinary Medicine in Southern California and the author
 of Unlocking the Animal Mind: How Your Pet's Feelings Hold the Key to His
 Health and Happiness.
     The website for the book is

SOURCE Franklin D. McMillan, D.V.M.