Photo Credit: Joshua Brown
It’s been a hard day.
Your boss was cranky. A project was stressful. Money still isn’t growing on trees. Gas prices are up. Your washing machine broke. The car needs new spark-plugs. Laundry. Always stinkin’ laundry.
Ugh. Life can be so hard. So stressful. But even when you arrive home from a stressful day at work, to a sink of dirty dishes, there is joy.
J-O-Y… In the form of a four-legged, slobbering, drooling, ultra excited dog. Hurling himself at you as soon as you walk in the door, sniffing your feet, licking your legs, pawing at your lunch box. He doesn’t care that you skipped the gym today. He loves that you are behind on the laundry (best place to curl up for a nap!). He doesn’t care that your car is broken down, as long as your legs still work for walks.
He just loves you. And all you have to do is love him back. And that’s enough. It’s simple. Pure. Feed him. Walk him. Play with him. His expectations are so low, you really can’t do wrong by Fido.
And he always does right by you (teething and potty training stages aside). He’s literally good for your health. Just petting a dog is said to decrease your blood pressure.
He is man’s best friend for a reason. He’s awesome!
Fido doesn’t come without some necessary upkeep though. He needs vaccinations and annual checkups. He needs his teeth cleaned and checked for hip dysplasia. One time he swallowed your keys and needed emergency surgery. With age, he’s had some pooping problems… all over the house. You called the vet and a professional carpet cleaner, that day.
Keeping Fido in tip-top Frisbee catching shape is super important! For that, you depend on a veterinarian.
Meet Dr. Dante Martin, Holly Ridge’s resident doctor to dogs and cats. He gets you. He knows that Fido (or Kitty Cat) isn’t just a pet – they are your family. He cares about your concerns and wants to get to the bottom of Kitty Cat’s constant scratching. He loves your pet with that pure hearted, gentle, patient, selfless devotion that veterinarians just have in their blood.
Thank God for veterinarians!
A ’95 graduate of the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Martin once vacationed on the coast of North Carolina and immediately fell in love with the area. Fishing, boating, and beaches offered a very different lifestyle than the Midwest, a lifestyle Dr. Martin couldn’t wait to call his own.
Upon graduation, Dr. Martin bid farewell to the concrete jungle and settled into Onslow County. He worked for a vet in Jacksonville, started a family, and began livin’ the dream.
“Seeing the ocean is a treat,” Dr. Martin stated with an easy smile. “I’m still in awe, every time I cross the high rise in Topsail.”
After he left the practice in Jacksonville, he took the leap to small business owner, moved to Holly Ridge, and opened up Holly Ridge Veterinary Hospital.
You are likely familiar with their sign. Located just off Highway 17, there is always a clever, comical quote to make you smile as you cruise by.
The building that now provides safety and health to local cats and canines, used to be a brick house. You can just make out marks of the original structure if you look closely. He gutted the building in 2014 and opened for business in 2015.
Dr. Martin is married to his practice manager, Linda. She has a degree in biology and taught physical science at Swansboro High School before she decided to join forces with her husband while raising their family. Working with your spouse may be difficult for some, but the Martins operate in stride.
“We respect each other. I don’t have the best memory, so it’s good she’s here to remind me of stuff,” he chuckled.
When Linda isn’t keeping the practice running smoothly and Dr. Martin isn’t saving Fido and Kitty Cat, you’re likely to find them on the water or at a soccer game. He used to enjoy fishing, until he realized he could just buy the fish at the supermarket. Now he just enjoys riding the waves, leaving the catching of fish to the professionals.
“Before I had kids, I would go fishing every night. I do like to fish and go crabbing and all that. The crabbing was difficult though because my wife would sneak out at night and let the crabs go,” he joked with a perfectly straight face. “I don’t know if she wanted me to not kill them or not to cook them in the house.”
Spend any time with Dr. Martin and you’ll soon hear about his family. Clearly proud of his children, Dr. Martin takes fatherhood seriously, finding great joy in spending time with his kids.
Three kids at home keep the good doctor on his toes. Harrison, his 18 year old, will be attending The Citadel this year. Jacob, 15, and Marilyn, 11, will both be home and playing soccer, so the hectic schedule of games, practice, and nonstop cheering will continue. The kid’s travel soccer takes the couple as far south as Florida and as far north as Philly.
“We spend most weekends traveling so your kids become a captive audience,” he quipped, deadpan.
You have to be quick to catch Dr. Martin’s sense of humor. His witticisms are sprinkled into his speech so nonchalantly; you may miss the twinkle in his eyes if you don’t pay attention.
With a relaxed professional air, Dr. Martin is easy to talk to. His staff is absolutely delightful, cheerfully greeting patients and putting worried fur parents right at ease. There are 3 full time veterinarians in the practice: Dr. Martin, Dr. Larson, and Dr. Maxwell.
People doctors and animal doctors obviously differ in the species they treat. But another huge difference is the range of knowledge that they must possess. People doctors specialize in a specific area of the body or type of ailment.
But veterinarians? They have to know EVERYTHING.
“The hardest part (about being a veterinarian) is really having to know everything… When you come here, we have the laser therapy, ultrasound, teeth cleaning, etc. We have to know EVERYTHING and not about just one species either. The dog is different than the cat in several ways. Some vets take care of several species, which requires even more information,” Dr. Martin explained frankly.
Despite the intense knowledge requirements, it has its rewards. He thoroughly enjoys meeting people and their beloved pets.
“To take good care of the their pets, I have to develop a relationship with the owner too and become their family doctor – because that’s what our dogs and cats are – part of our family.”
His own family extends beyond Linda and their three kids. The furry part of the Martin family is comprised of 2 Dachshunds, 1 Yorkie, 1 Long Hair Chihuahua, and 1 Chihuahua Beagle Mix. Eight cats used to be part of the Martin crew, until his wife developed a severe allergy. Now, he just has two outside cats that he shares with his neighbor.
Caring for creatures who can’t communicate their hurt was a central part of Dr. Martin’s childhood. Both of his parents are veterinarians, so he was constantly surrounded by rescued critters.
“I grew up with it. I ate it, slept it, and saw how rewarding it was for them (my parents). Not financially rewarding. That’s not how I look at things. I saw how they enjoyed what they did – interacting with people, caring for the animals, seeing the animals get better. I watched them relieve discomfort from an animal that can’t tell you what’s wrong. To communicate just by looking with senses other than speech to diagnose and treat the animal – that’s what impressed me the most about watching my parents work and being influenced by them.”
The career of a veterinarian may be a noble and rewarding one, but it isn’t without it’s drawbacks. The student debt can be crippling, quickly reaching a quarter million dollars by veterinary school graduation. But for people who love animals and love helping others, the debt is worth the cost of such a highly satisfying career.
And this career is highly satisfying for Dr. Martin. His motto for the practice is, “genuine care and compassion.“ It’s what they strive for and what they thrive on.
“I became a vet to help heal, cure, and be compassionate to all animals. Some of them give us their lives.”
Military dogs and police dogs certainly don’t have easy work. They are often casualties in an effort to save and protect human lives. These animals hold a special place in the heart of the good doctor. He is even in the process of erecting a service dog memorial at his practice, in an effort to acknowledge the great value in these loyal creatures.
8 ways you can best care for your lovable little critter
- Know what you need and get them on time.
- Some vaccines are life style vaccines that depend on the life style you and your dog are exposed to. For example, if you board your dog, most kennels require bordetella, which can help prevent the highly contagious and unpleasant hacking disease. Even if your dog does contract kennel cough, the vaccine decreases the effects of it in your dog.
#2. Preventative wellness care.
- The best way to prevent problems is to catch them early. You should take your dog or cat in for a checkup at least once a year, and twice a year at 9 years old and on.
- Recent studies by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Animal Hospital Association have revealed that wellness visits are decreasing. At the same time, preventable diseases in pets are on the rise. With the number of pets in the US increasing by more than 36%, this information is distressing and could easily be changed with steady wellness checks.
#3. Sick visits.
- If your dog or cat is acting unwell, don’t wait until they get worse. Take them in to be seen!
- Allergies can often be the cause of discomfort. Allergies in North Carolina are very common, with new technologies helping to relieve dogs of that discomfort.
- Compared to a human doctor, a veterinarian is cheeeeeeeap! But unexpected events occur and when you don’t have it in the budget, you can usually pay your bill through Care Credit, which works the same with veterinarians as it does for physicians.
- Ask for an estimated cost of services so you can be prepared to budget the necessary dollars to get your Yorkie’s teeth cleaned or get your Persian spayed.
- Martin and his team will always tell you what the BEST course of care is for your pet. He advises every fur-parent to ask lots of questions to help determine which course of care needs immediate attention.
#6. Alternative therapies
- Alternative therapies are all the rage with people, but for animals, it’s still a largely untapped resource and certainly worth considering the option.
#7. Read the label
- Nutrition is just as important for animals as it is for humans. Sure, Fido may have licked the occasional piece of poop, but the food poured into his bowl should be healthy and nutritious. Instead of just grabbing the cheapest food on the rack, do your research on the best brand and ingredients for your species and breed.
#8. Love is spelled T-I-M-E.
- Yes, in some ways, pets are just like kids. Especially in this way. If you love your pet, you need to spend time with them, just like a child. Take them for a walk, pet them, play catch or hide-and-seek or chase-the-light-beam.
What makes Dr. Martin better than the competition? According to this team player, the Holly Ridge Veterinary Hospital is staffed with excellent veterinarians and a friendly, knowledgeable, staff.
The other vets in the area? Well they are just…. fantastic.
Yep. He thinks the other vets are seriously fantastic. (He’s just a really good guy, right?!?!)
Dr. Martin is confident that you will be satisfied with all the local pet docs. The nearest veterinary offices to his location are Dr. McArthur-Wicks at Surf City Pet and Dr. Fuchs at All Pets Animal Hospital of Sneads Ferry, both of whom he assures are exceptional doctors who will provide excellent care to your creatures. He considers them not as competition, but as colleagues. He has served them on the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board and continues to serve them as Vice President of the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Association.
“All the other veterinarians here are very, very good. What we do have here and I will applaud, is our staff, who love what they do. You can’t please everybody of course, but they really try their darndest to please everybody and make sure all the animals are doing well,” he acknowledged with pride.
Next time you need a vet, you know who to call!
**We’re building a brand new, state of the art facility to better care for your pets. Pet Health of Hampstead will work in unison with Holly Ridge Veterinary Hospital.**
Contact Holly Ridge Veterinary Hospital
324 US Hwy 17 N
Holly Ridge, North Carolina
Monday 7:30am – 6:00pm
Tuesday 7:30am – 7:00pm
Wednesday 7:30am – 6:00pm
Thursday 7:30am – 6:00pm
Friday 7:30am – 6:00pm
Drop-off appointments available
First timer? Here is what you can expect when visiting:
*From the Holly Ridge Animal Hospital website*
When you arrive you will be greeted warmly as we check you in.
We will do our best to make sure you are brought into an examination room as soon as we have one available. Our goal is to make sure all of our patients are seen on time, but there will be times the occasional unexpected delay due to an emergency or because we are providing care for a patient that needs a little more time. Please accept our apologies should this occur, and understand that the same dedication and courtesy will be provided to your pet should they ever need it.
Here’s what to expect during your visit:
- Once checked in, one of our team members will see you into the exam room and weigh your pet.
- A veterinarian will then meet you, gather basic information about your pet’s health, examine your pet, talk about any questions or concerns you may have and plan further diagnostics or treatment as needed.
- Any recommended diagnostics tests (i.e. blood work) and treatments are usually performed in one of our treatment rooms.
- When the veterinary consultation is complete, the veterinary assistant will return to the exam room where you can privately complete your payment and future appointment bookings will be handled.
- Depending on the reason for your visit, you may expect a follow-up call from one of our veterinary assistants to get an update on how your pet has been doing since their visit. If you have any concerns, talk to the assistant about them.
We hope you enjoy your visit and the service we provide, and we would be delighted to see you again.
If you need help determining whether Fido or Kitty Cat really needs to see the vet, check out Holly Ridge Animal Hospital’s handy health checker to help you identify the urgency of the issue.
Pet Health Checker
“Use our Pet Health Checker tool to help you decide if your pet’s symptoms require immediate attention or if you should continue to monitor those symptoms at home. To get started, click on the dog or cat to identify which type of pet you have, and then enter your pet’s symptom to continue.”
Their news section is stocked with really helpful tips, including safety information about heat strokes, swim safety, and chip checking.
Pet Health News at Holly Ridge Veterinary Hospital
*read below for an exert from one of their pet health news articles*
Dogs have a difficult time cooling themselves:
- They don’t sweat like we do.The main method for cooling in dogs is panting. Dogs with short snouts, such as Bulldogs, Boxers, and Shih Tzus are even more susceptible to overheating because they can’t pant as well as dogs with longer snouts.
- They wear fur coats. While their coats actually help to promote cooling by trapping a bit of cool air close to the skin, it only works for so long.
- They can’t head to cooler locations. Unlike us, pets cannot head to the mall, library, or cooling center on their own – they rely on us to help keep them cool.
Preventing heat stroke is crucial to your dog’s health and the responsibility lies with us. Here are some things you can do to prevent heat stroke:
Keep your dog cool.
- If your dog is indoors for most of the day and you have air conditioning, that’s great! If you don’t have air conditioning, keep your windows and curtains closed during the day to keep the heat out, and keep some fans running to help cool him down. Open the windows at night to let the cooler air in.
- If your dog spends most of his time outdoors, make sure you provide plenty of shade and encourage him to rest in shady areas by putting his food and water bowls there. You can also use an outdoor fan; make sure you keep the cord out of his reach.
- Some dogs enjoy a plastic kiddie pool full of water placed in the shade. Be sure your dog can get in and out on his own and supervise his dips in the water.
- If you have a swimming pool, please remember that dogs can’t climb ladders. Train your dog to use the steps if your pool has them. Never leave your dog unattended in your pool – accidental drownings happen every year when dogs exhaust themselves trying to find a way out.
- You must provide a constant source of fresh water for your dog.
- Toss ice cubes into the bowl to keep the water cool.
Practice safe exercise.
- Restrict rigorous walks and playtime to short sessions in the early morning or late evening. If temperatures and humidity remain high in the overnight hours, skip long walks until the heat breaks.
- Be sure to frequently stop for water breaks on walks. Bring along a dog water bottle or collapsible water dish with lots of cold water. You could even bring along a misting bottle so you can spray him off every now and then.
- Try to keep to the shady side of the street and remember that your dog’s feet are just as sensitive to hot asphalt as your feet are.
- When you return home, you can hose your dog down if he likes that, but remember to run the water first, since any water sitting in the hose will be hot enough to burn your dog.