What inspired you to start Key Veterinary Care?
I took over the business about three years ago and started it slowly because I was also doing relief work at the emergency clinic.
I began my Veterinary career in equine medicine (mixed animal). I initially wanted to be a horse vet but ended up doing everything on the farm, pigs, cows, horses, and since I was there, I would treat the family dogs and cats. I was grateful for that experience because I learned so much. I would travel to people’s farms and found that I especially loved that part of it.
When I had my children, relief work was a wonderful way for me to work because it took a little of the responsibility of owning a business off of me, but I also learned a lot about different practices and how they ran, what I liked and what I didn’t like.
After my third child, I realized I wanted to go back to work and knew I needed to own my own business, so last November, I bought an existing mobile vet business. That allows me to offer in-home Veterinary care service, which is something I always enjoyed.
Did you grow up on a farm? Is that where your initial interest in equine came from?
I did, although I was a cat person when I was young. I always had a cat and was afraid of horses, my mom was always the horse person in the family. Eventually, I got over my fear at ten years old and became a Rider. I developed a love for it and a skill with horses that not a lot of people have. I had a comfort level with them where I could read their body language, so I felt this obligation to use that skill. Ultimately, I realized that I’m a healer and decided to work with all animals.
Did you always want to be a Veterinarian?
I always knew I wanted to be a Veterinarian. I had an interest in animals since the age of two. When I was young, if I found a dead mole or something, I would want to dissect it to understand how the animal’s insides worked. You can say I was a bit of a science geek. My interest in equine medicine started in high school when I was competing.
Tell me about the holistic side of your care?
I prefer to treat my patients using alternative medicine first because it has fewer side effects than western medicine. I use acupuncture for preventative care and to heal ailments from inflammation to pain. One ailment it cured that surprised me was incontinence. The acupuncture helped to get the dog off his medicine, and the follow-up visits have kept him off meds for two years now. Acupuncture can help with the end of life as well, either to keep the animal comfortable or expedite his/her passing.
How does an animal react to acupuncture?
They tend to do well with it. Some are more sensitive than others, but I feel the more sensitive ones tend to respond better.
Do you have animals?
Oh Yes! I have three dogs and two cats. A client found two kittens that needed to be bottle-fed. The bottle-feeding helped get my husband on board, and we ended up keeping both.
What is your recommendation to all pet owners?
Do annual blood work from when your pet is young. You will never know what is going on with your dog or cat unless you have the bloodwork screened. The annual screenings will tell you what is going on with your pet so you can do preventative things and help to prolong your pet’s life.
When it comes to vaccines, I’m all for less is more. I believe tittering is a better option. I do not think vaccines are 100% benign. I have a patient that goes into nursing homes and she is allowed to be tittered, so if she can be why not all dogs and cats.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share?
I have a couple of passion projects I’m currently working on; First is my YouTube Channel, Farmers Market Fido, it’s a dog food cooking channel where I teach people how to cook for their dog. I know kibble is convenient, I use it myself, but it’s processed and there should be a shift towards more whole foods for your dog.
Another project I am working on is getting the St. Johns Veterinary Medical Association up and running again so we can offer education here in town, and the local Veterinarians can collaborate more.
Lastly, I love podcasts and started one called Bio Hack Your Pets. I interview Veterinarians, and we discuss what we can do to give our pets the most extended, happiest, healthiest lives. We want to know what people are doing, and so far, within the first six interviews, the number one thing we can all agree on is to feed them whole fresh food. It is the one thing we have control over every single day.
Do you think raw food is good for dogs?
Yes, but it depends on the dog. Some will do wonderfully on a raw diet and can tolerate it, but some won’t. An older dog may have a sensitive stomach, so it may need to be a gradual change. I think fresh foods and variety trumps anything else in a dog’s diet. It’s about phytonutrients, and eating the same thing every week will likely create deficiencies; it’s just not normal.
Where do you service?
I service all of St. Johns County and do everything except surgery and x-rays. If that is required, I know so many vets that I would refer my patients depending on where they live.
What is your mission with Key Veterinary Care?
The mission is to provide a different kind of option for people. I provide in-home care for dogs and cats. I offer personalized service and offer more of my time during each visit. They gain more access to me and I gain more knowledge about their pet’s everyday life.