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30A Vet is There for You!

by Dr. Kelly Brawner

Since my purchase of 30A Vet, I've heard from a lot of clients that they would really appreciate some veterinary support on the weekends.  Niceville is quite the hike, and as much as we appreciate their services, most people don't wake up Saturday morning dreaming of a trip to the north side of Choctawhatchee Bay!  With that in mind, we've decided to add weekend hours to better meet the needs of our clients and the 30A community

Starting THIS SATURDAY, January 27th, we will be open every Saturday from 8 am to Noon.


Dr. Kelly Brawner Assumes Ownership of 30A Vet!


by Dr. Tonia Shatzel

Handing over the reins to Dr. Brawner has been an absolute pleasure these last few weeks!  For starters, I can’t say enough good things about her skills, her personality, and her genuine kindness with both the pets and their “people. It takes an array of talent to be an amazing vet, and I have no problem saying that Dr. Brawner is the total package!

When I made the decision that is was time to sell, finding a fit was my highest priority. As luck would have it, after several months of searching, we were introduced to Dr. Kelly Brawner.  I had no doubt she would be perfect. 

Dr. Brawner has several years of experience working side-by-side with board-certified specialists.  Her intelligence, coupled with this unique experience makes her an incredibly knowledgeable and skilled vet. The “back of the house” business side, however, has a lot of moving parts, which is why I plan to stick around for a few months to be sure the transition goes smoothly.  But most importantly, I’m making sure my clients (now her clients) get a chance to meet her and get to know just how great she really is!  

We worked together on a few cases even before I sold her the business, and we immediately found ourselves moving into an easy, comfortable partnership with both medicine and business. 

Thank you, all of you, for your warm 30A Welcome to Dr. Brawner over the past couple of weeks, and for your congratulations and well-wishes to me as I embark on the next step of my life!


Dr. T   

Handing Over the Reins


“Handing Over the Reins”

by Dr. Tonia Shatzel

My experiences serving the 30A community over the last five years have been extraordinary, to say the least.  One thing I love about this community is, well, the Love!  My 30A family is passionate about love, life, community service, the environment, and their fellow humans (and non-humans)  to a level that seems to know no bounds.

As a veterinarian in this community, I’ve had the privilege of serving some of the kindest, most caring and grateful clients in the world.  I love the people here with my heart and my soul.  Everyone who lives here is here because they want to be.  When we are not talking about our beloved pets, our chats cover the weather, the beach, the clouds, the sunsets, the “green flash,” stingrays, dolphins, alligators, bears, herons, and, of course, our tourists!

Being a vet is like being a mom to thousands of humans and thousands of pets all at the same time.  Veterinarians must wear the hat of educator, grief counselor, financial advisor, diagnostician (to patients who can’t talk to you), pet whisperer, a leader in times of crisis, and of course, doctor and surgeon.  It’s a busy life, but a very fulfilling one at the same time!

My path has been filled with joy and grief, miracles, successes, failures, and plenty of emotional trials and tribulations.   I’ve lived this life, to some extent or another, for 20 years now.  I’ve been a parent and single mom for almost 14 of those 20 years, and the time has come to hand over the reins to the next healer in line.

I have to say, it wasn’t a given that I would be able to find the perfect person to take over 30A Vet, but we were blessed to be united with a veterinarian, who, in my opinion, is the perfect fit!

Which leads me to introduce you to Dr. Kelly Brawner, the new practice owner.  Raised on a professional Quarter Horse farm in central Alabama, Dr. Brawner developed her interest in veterinary medicine literally on the farm! She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from Auburn University.  She then attended veterinary school at St. Matthew’s University. She completed her clinical year rotations at Oklahoma State University.

After practicing in general practice for a couple of years, she was excited for the opportunity to practice emergency medicine at a busy, multi-specialty referral center. She enjoyed the opportunity to follow complex cases and learn from the specialists. Her professional interests include internal medicine, radiology, ultrasonography and critical care.  Her passion to be part of a client-centered general practice that provides comprehensive care for the pets in the community has finally been realized with the purchase of 30A Vet, placing her regionally right in the middle of her family members’ homes. 

She enjoys spending her free time with her husband, also named Kelly! They spend their free time with the daughter Kameron, exploring the local beaches and enjoying all the outdoor activities. Dr. Brawner is pictured above with their French Bulldog, “Eleanor,” the new mascot for 30A Vet!

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Brawner to the community at an Open House at the clinic this Tuesday, January 9th, and Thursday, January 11th, from 5 pm to 6:30 pm.  We’ll provide the small bites, Mimosas, and dog biscuits!  (Leashed Furry Friends are Welcome!)  I’ll be hosting the gatherings and assisting Dr. Brawner over the next few months, making sure she has as seamless a transition as possible to her new role of practice ownership! 

We hope to see you there!

Dr. T 

This is not your Mother’s dental!


This is not your Mother’s dental!  Don’t be fooled by the dentistries offered by other vets.  You will be comparing apples to porcupines.  Yes, we are that different in our approach to dentistry!  Here’s how we do it: (click here to download this checklist)

  1. Courtesy dental consults prior to any dentistry to go over the procedure, the costs and to help give the owner an idea of what may need to be done once we are able to explore and take x-rays under anesthesia.
  2. Current blood work, including cardiac blood work screening for all cats and certain geriatric dogs, thyroid screening and current heart worm test, urinalysis and negative fecal tests.
  3. Pre-anesthetic ECG the morning of the procedure.
  4. IV catheter with IV fluids administered by warmed IV fluid pump
  5. A tracheal tube placed to prevent inhaling fluid into the lungs during the cleaning, state-of-the-art anesthetics are used for the procedure.
  6. Baby socks on their feet to keep in warm
  7. Additional special interactive warming device wrapped around their entire body to prevent your pet from ever being cold.
  8. Two people attending to your pet throughout the entire procedure.  The doctor performs all x-rays and work on your pet’s teeth.  The veterinary technician monitors anesthesia and records the entire event and all findings during the procedure, and assists the doctor in any way needed.
  9. Monitoring of respiratory rate, heart rate, blood oxygen percent, blood carbon dioxide percent, core temperature, blood pressure, and ECG throughout surgery.  Monitoring is doubled in some cases, being performed not just by a piece of equipment, but also by the veterinary technician.
  10. Full-mouth dental x-rays prior to any work performed
  11. Full cleaning and exploration of the oral cavity, and documentation of all findings.
  12. If needed, a call from the veterinarian or the assistant with the findings that need to be addressed with an estimate, including nerve blocks, etc. if needed to prevent pain upon recovery.
  13. A call after the procedure is complete with an update.
  14. Antibiotics and pain medicine if needed.
  15. Meet with the veterinarian at pick up to review the digital x-rays, all findings, and to review any procedures that were done and why they were done, and to review the best plan going forward that works for you and your pet to prevent future dental disease in the best way possible.
  16. Infinite courtesy rechecks, including education and training about how to prevent dental calculus accumulation, gingivitis, and periodontal disease going forward so you maximize the time in between dentistries.

Call now to reserve your spot before all spaces are filled!


30A Animal Wellness

In the fall of 2013, during a chaotic moment at our clinic, Melanie Barrett, in for a routine visit with one of her pets, offered to lend a hand.  Although, she only worked with us for a short time, she was inspired to begin a journey that is changing the lives of some of our local patients and their owners.

While spending time with us at 30A Vet, Melanie recognized a need for alternative treatments and therapies for animals.  She began her research, and soon enrolled in a 50-hour Canine Aqua Therapy class in Orlando.  Her quest for additional knowledge led her to a Certification in Animal Aromatherapy, as well as Pet CPR, First Aid and Healing Touch for Animals (a brand name for holistic “energy work), and most recently a training course with Cesar Millan.

In 2014, a dream was born.  Melanie founded 30A Animal Wellness, a warm and welcoming facility in her home with a 12’ by 28’ non-chlorine swimming pool filled to 4 ft., a bright, light-filled treatment room with a special treadmill for dogs, and soothing music and aromatherapy diffusers throughout the facility.  

30A Animal Wellness offers alternative methods of treatment for pets, as well as supplemental treatments to traditional veterinary medicine.  Many of our older, arthritic patients benefit immensely from hydrotherapy, as well as energy work.  Post-operative orthopedic patients, as well as any pet injured with a broken bone are also excellent candidates for Melanie’s work.  We have also witnessed pets suffering with emotional issues like aggression, a lack of confidence, or introversion issues improve greatly over time.

Although science may not substantiate concrete results realized from alternative treatments, we have seen, and are continuing to see very positive results from these treatments, and most importantly happier, healthier pets.  While I am a Doctor of Veterinary medicine, more importantly I’m an animal lover, and I firmly believe there is a need for alternative therapies and treatment for our pets.  A happy pet is a healthy pet! 

To contact Melanie Barrett at 30A Animal Wellness:

Phone: (850) 218-0476

Address: Woodland Drive

Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, FL 32459

Senior Moments

Aging is a subtle process, with small changes accumulating slowly right under our noses.  With 65% of dogs over 7 years old experiencing arthritis pain due to degenerating joints, it’s no wonder that our middle-aged and older pets appear to be “slowing down.”  Old age is not a disease, and “slowing down” is always a symptom of something else, usually something very treatable. 

Other painful, hidden,  and life-shortening problems include weight-gain, dental disease, kidney and liver issues, and cancerous and non-cancerous lumps and bumps.

Join us Saturday, February 4th,
from 10:00 am to 11:30 am

to learn how to prevent, treat, and manage common senior pet issues, and how to keep them feeling their best in their “Golden Years” !   Attendees will receive a coupon for a free senior pet consultation with one of our veterinarians and a pain consultation with one of two specialists who offer this service, a $135 value! 

(Coupons must be redeemed no later than May 1st, 2017)

Holy Halitosis!

Saturday, January 21 from 10:00 am - 11:30 am


Wednesday, January 25 from 5:00pm - 7:00pm


Step 1:  Your pet eats food, food causes your pet to develop PLAQUE. 

Step 2:  PLAQUE turns into TARTAR within 24 hours if not removed.  Plague and tartar develop more quickly on older pets as the enamel of their teeth becomes rougher with age and things are more likely to stick to the surface of the teeth.  

Step 3:  TARTAR slowly grows and develops under the gums, leading to GINGIVITIS.  Gingivitis is painful.  It’s the thing that usually causes you to jump in your dentist’s chair when you are having your teeth cleaned.  (It means when you were brushing, you missed a spot.)  The majority of pets over 3 years old have gingivitis.

Step 4:  GINGIVITIS worsens and the gums become infected with bacteria under the gums.  The infection and the tartar then cause the gum to start to peel away from the root of the tooth, and the bacteria start to eat away at the bones of the skull and jawbone, dissolving the bone and leaving behind pus and blood.  This is called PERIODONTAL DISEASE.  It really, really hurts. (If you’ve ever known someone who needed a root canal, you will probably remember how much pain they were experiencing, and you will probably remember just how fast they lined up that root canal, too!  They had periodontal disease!)

Step 5:  Teeth loosen, fall out, jaws fracture, and pets live in pain.  Why don’t they tell us about it?  They do, it’s just very subtle.  Grumpy behavior, slowing down, and other subtle changes typically diagnosed by humans as “getting old” is really the symptom of incredible pain with no end in sight.  Instinct keeps non-human animals from lying around moaning in pain…such behavior would target them from attack from predators, and their instinct is to hide their pain.  Instinct also drives them to eat even though they are in incredible pain.


This process is preventable, and the disease is treatable, and we can help!  Join us this Saturday, January 21st from 10:00 am to 11:30 am, OR Wednesday, January 25th, from 5:30 pm to 7pm for an informative seminar to learn what you can do to prevent and treat this hidden problem affecting almost every pet we see 

Mimosas, light snacks, and swag will be provided.  


All dentistries performed before March 31st, 2017 will receive $200 off their procedure.

***Attend the seminar on Saturday, January 21st, from 10:00 am to 11:30 am, or Wednesday, January 25th, from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm, and receive
an ADDITIONAL $100 off!***

Help Your Pet Love the Vet

Join Us for "Happy" Hour
Brought to You
by 30A Vet & What's Up Dog

Wednesday, August 31
5 - 7 pm
30A Vet
56 Spires Lane, Unit 14A • Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

Veterinary medicine is not just about healing the body, it’s also about soothing the mind.  Cutting edge research, training, and psychologically advanced techniques have been developed to help us do just that during your pet’s veterinary visits.  If you’ve visited us in the last 9 months, you may (or may not) have noticed some subtle changes to the way we do things.  These changes have taken some time and LOTS of practice, but in the long run, they will save us time, save your pet from stress and anxiety, and save you from the guilt of having to “put your pet through all this” at the vet.

One thing that we’ve seen work again and again is “Non-demanding Time” at the the vet clinic in the presence of the doctors and staff.  White Coat Syndrome is real (and tends to apply not just to triggers like a white coat, but also to locations, odors, etc.), it truly affects our pets, and the stress and anxiety surrounding it have been proven to impact healing times.  We have consistently found that many of our patients who suffer a traumatic disease requiring repeated visits to the vet actually have LESS STRESS after a few visits than those who only come a couple of times a year.

Through the repeated use of very delicious treats, and just allowing your pet to explore the area without asking anything of them, soothing pheromone plug-ins, collars, and wipes, soothing all-natural calming treats, and in extreme cases, even advanced medications that “turn off” the anxiety center in the brain, our veterinarians and staff have made tremendous steps in preventing puppies and kittens from ever developing White Coat Syndrome, and have also been able to "retrain" this response to it in our older patients who already suffer from this affliction. This advancement in the care we provide you and your pet means so much to us, and we hope you will join us for this event.  It is our goal to teach everyone who has a pet or works with animals to skills to recognize, prevent and help animals with fearful situations.  

Join us at 30A Vet, with the help and support of What's Up Dog, for "Happy" Hour, bring your dogs, enjoy mimosas, wine and some tasty snacks, and allow your pet an experience of just dropping by for a taste of what "Happy Time at the Vet"  is all about! 


**SOLD OUT** Please Call the Office to be placed on a Waiting List by 5 pm***** FREE SEMINAR THIS SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 6TH, 2016




Have you ever pushed your dog away from giving kisses because his breath smelled like an old garbage can?  

Do you prefer the back end of your cat to the front end?

If you said “Yes” to either of these questions,
then this is the FREE seminar for you!

“Sinking Your Teeth into Periodontal Disease:  What Your Pet Wants You To Know About His Dental Health”

by Dr. Tonia Shatzel

Periodontal Disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and bone around your pet’s tooth due to a buildup of tartar.  Periodontal disease can be a “silent killer” and is most likely the cause of that bad odor that comes between you and your “Furrbaby” smooches!  Left untreated, periodontal disease can become a painful condition, and that’s why 30A Vet is here to help!

In celebration of National Pet Dental Health month, 30A Vet is sponsoring a free educational seminar to discuss the causes, prevention and treatment of periodontal disease.  In addition to the free seminar, we will have Door Prizes for two $50 Gift Certificates to Furry Fanatics, and two $75 gift certificates to Jade Nail Salon

Everyone who attends will receive a free toothbrush and toothpaste with instructions on the proper way to brush a pet’s teeth, and a certificate for a Free Dental Exam at 30A Vet. 

Of course we will have Mimosas and swag!  

And if all that doesn’t get you excited
enough to join us, then chomp on this:

Everyone who attends the seminar will receive $200 off any dentistry performed at 30A Vet by March 15th, 2016.

When: This Saturday, February 6th, 2016, 9:30 AM

Where: Jade Nail Salon (No pets, please!)

RSVP to or call 30A Vet at 850-660-1892 to reserve your seat.  Space is limited to the first 25 people, so please call today!

Composure and You

Does your pet stress about vet visits?
We may have a solution for you.

We are currently offering a product known as Composure Pro.  It is an all-natural way to calm your pets. Composure comes as a liver-flavored treat and is great for use during all times of stress including vet visits, storms, car rides, boarding, and more. Simply give your pet the recommended dose of these treats approximately an hour before a stressful event, and your pet should relax without the use of stronger medications. This is an all-natural supplement that will aid in calming your pet without causing them to seem sedated. Since the active ingredients are Thiamine (Vitamin B1), L-Theanine, and C3 (a colostrum complex), you can double, and even triple the dosing (depending on your pets needs), and not have to worry about unwanted side effects. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this product, feel free to contact us and we will be happy to assist you. 


The Importance of Pet Dental Care

Dental disease is the most common disease seen by veterinarians. 

Most pets over the age of 2 have some form of dental disease.  It is an often overlooked threat to the comfort and well being of your pet. 

Some signs of dental disease include bad breath, yellow, brown or discolored teeth, red inflamed gums, pain when eating, loose teeth and swollen mouth or jaws.   Dental disease can have a major impact on your pet's organs including the heart, liver, and kidneys. 

Following a wellness exam your vet may recommend a dental cleaning procedure, oral care, routine or special treatment based on your pet's specific dental needs.  Most dogs and cats after the age of 2 or 3 will need routine dental cleanings every 1 to 2 years.  Good oral hygiene habits at home, including brushing, dental chews or dental additives can dramatically increase the time needed between dental cleanings. 

Benefits for your pet include reduced plaque and tartar, decreased oral infections, prevention of bad breath and also help prevent heart, liver and kidney disease caused by dental disease.  Remember your pet has the same dental needs as you do. 

For further information please feel free to talk to your vet or technician about dental disease,  dental cleanings and at home dental care. 

The light at the end of the tunnel and Giardia.

What I should have done, starting about eight months ago, was keep a journal.  Now, however, we're here, we're open, and all the crazy stories, like when I accidentally ran the battery down in the mobile van, and then had to ask my poor clients to jump start the van, and then immediately backed it into a tree as I was leaving...all those stories are getting harder and harder to remember.   Ah, the good old days.

So at this point, we should probably start from here and go forward.  I promise to be a better blogger from this point on, and the good stories?  Well, they will be preserved on these blogs, forever preserved on the world wide web for future generations.

However, I can remember what happened this week!  And that brings me to today's topic, boring to some, but very much on my mind:  Giardia.

Giardia a little microscopic single-celled intestinal parasites that inhabit the intestines.  Dogs and cats can carry it, and it can make them sick.  But what's also of interest is that Giardia is a "zoonotic" parasite, meaning we human animals can catch it from our non-human animal friends.  You can probably intuit what Giardia does to both our pets and to us, and trust me, you do NOT want to get Giardia!

The reason I'm prattling on about Giardia is that I have never diagnosed it so much in my career as I have over the last two months!  I don't know if it's the problem with pet overpopulation here on the panhandle, or the mild climate, or if it's just the fact that there's a new, more sensitive test out for Giardia which I've been running on all shelter pets and new puppies, but I just feel the need to let my clients know that if you get symptoms, of, shall we say "Montezuma's Revenge," but didn't just come back from Cancun, you may want to mention to your doctor that a test may be in order for both you and your pets to be sure you haven't picked up this nasty little hitchhiker!  

Whether you bring in a new pet from a shelter or a breeder, Giardia LOVES to hang out where there are a lot of pets, so a quarantine is in order for all new pets until they've been tested, and pick up and discard all feces to prevent contamination of your yard.  Finally, if your pet is diagnosed, and you have symptoms of intestinal distress, please don't forget to tell your doctor about your exposure!



Where to begin?


The Dogs of 30A book created an opportunity to meet many wonderful people and dogs (and actually several cats!) on 30A.  I now have many dear friends from that experience, and I’m ready to share some exciting news!  If you know me, you know I’m always up to something, and this time it’s something really, really BIG!

I loved doing photo shoots down here a few years ago, and I loved meeting new people with their dogs on the beach.  But what has been tough these last few years was getting to know people on 30A, and then telling them that I didn’t practice veterinary medicine in Florida when they expressed interest in becoming a client.

Last year I obtained my Florida license.  Basically you have to be licensed in every state in which you wish to practice medicine, veterinary or otherwise.  I’ve been licensed in Georgia all these years, but finally decided to get my Florida license too.  We were spending about a third of the year down here, so I started offering house calls to friends in both Georgia and Florida.  To say the least, I have not been bored!

Fast forward to January of this year.  On January 2nd, I decided I couldn’t take one more day of this back-and-forth lifestyle!  I decided I was coming home….home to 30A.  

For the last 35 days or so, it’s been non-stop craziness!  I sold my old house, started applying for business loans, alerted my family, and started planning the move.  In the meantime, I’ve created a business plan and an Excel spreadsheet forecast so complicated it makes my head spin (gotta give my partner, Rob “Kingfish” Wood, all the credit for that fancy spreadsheet), and talked to so many banks that I’m practically hoarse!  Now I’m hours into website design with my favorite graphic designer in the universe (Keri Atchley, Design 360), and this project is happening one way or another (please send good vibes out to all the banks I’m currently talking to!).  Stay tuned for frequent updates and to find out all the details…I promise to tell them to you just as soon as I know!

It's Complicated


Vaccinations are getting a bad rap these days, and some people are avoiding them like the plague.  As your veterinarian, it's my responsibility to recommend the best plan for your pet, balancing risk of disease with possible risks from vaccinations, and taking into account some unintended consequences as well.

Although each pet I see will get a specific recommendation, please read this brief explanation of where I currently stand on vaccinations.  Also, please be aware that this is a rapidly-changing subject, and I reserve the right to change my medical opinion about vaccinations at any moment.  This is how "practicing medicine" works, and I may change my recommendations due to experiences on my part, resurgence of a disease, or new informational studies.  What I DO NOT use to formulate my opinion is hearsay, wive's tales, and ideas not backed by science or my own personal experience.

1.  In my opinion, vaccinations are basically safe.  Of the thousands of pets I've vaccinated over my career, the vast majority respond well to vaccinations, never come down with the disease they've been vaccinated for, and live to a ripe old age.  Exceptions:  The rare allergic reaction (ranging from mild and annoying to the rare severe and possibly life-threatening), severe fever and debilitation in elderly pets, possible vaccine-induced cancer in cats (1 in 30,000 chance), and, Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (unconfirmed relationship).  

2.  Puppy and kitten vaccinations are EXTREMELY important.  The vaccination schedule should begin at 7-8 weeks, and be repeated every 3 weeks until 12 - 16 weeks old (breed dependent and depending on the age of the pet when starting the series).  There are all kinds of medical reasons for this obnoxious schedule, but we are at the mercy of biology on this one.  Please be sure to stick to it, I've seen so many pets die because they didn't start on time or didn't finish the drill.  It's heartbreaking and so very avoidable.

3.  Rabies vaccine is required by law and, in my opinion, is the least problematic of the vaccines.  In my practice I've seen precious few vaccine reactions to rabies.  Rabies is available in a 3-year formulation, although it must be given the first time as a 1-year vaccine, then when boosted one year later, it is a 3-year vaccine.  Rabies is nearly 100% fatal to both pets AND people, and there are LOTS of wildlife and pet cases reported in Georgia and Florida every year.  In order to protect your family, you should ALWAYS keep the rabies vaccine up to date.

4.  There are lots of vaccines on the market, but generally the "old basics" are what I recommend:  

Other vaccinations to be considered on an individual basis:  FIV, GIARDIA, LYMES, CANINE FLU

5.  Finally, I truly believe we are giving our pets more vaccines than they really need, but I'm not sure our overvaccination is causing any real health problems in our pets, EXCEPT THIS UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCE: SKIMPING ON IMPORTANT BLOODWORK, DENTISTRY OR HEARTWORM PREVENTIVE BECAUSE THE CLIENT HAS ALREADY MAXED OUT THEIR CREDIT CARD PAYING FOR VACCINATIONS.

People are so "vaccine oriented" that they tend to want to get their pet vaccinated first, and end up putting off services and labwork which are far more important (i.e. bloodwork, six month checkups,dentistry, etc.).  I truly believe every vaccine that you give your pet every year should be evaluated together with your veterinarian each and every time.  You and your vet should review your pet's vaccination history and create a plan TOGETHER for your pet based on exposure, the surrounding environment, requirements for boarding and grooming, and current disease epidemics.  

The American Animal Hospital Association has an current and in-depth review of vaccinations if you would like to learn more: Click here for the link.