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J Small Anim Pract. 2001 Aug;42(8):385-9.

'Battered pets': Munchausen syndrome by proxy (factitious illness by proxy).

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, University of Edinburgh, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, Easter Bush Veterinary Centre, Roslin, Midlothian.


Nine cases of suspected Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP), involving pets as proxies, were identified among 448 cases of non-accidental injury to small animals. These cases, recorded by a random sample of small animal practitioners in the UK, demonstrated several combinations of features, including attention-seeking behaviour by the owner, real and apparently factitious clinical signs, deliberate injury, markedly abnormal biochemical profiles, serial incidents, interference with surgical sites, recovery after separation from the owner, and 'veterinarian-shopping' by the owner. All of these features are consistent with those identified in the well documented MSBP in which children are the victims. Furthermore, one of the cases involved serial attempts at poisoning other animals and a child.

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