“If we need it, they need it, too.”
That’s the approach a new veterinary clinic in St. Augustine is taking when it comes to furry family members and friends.
Nease Animal Hospital, which held its grand opening Aug. 19, offers a combination of Westernized veterinary services with alternative therapies to treat animals for a variety of issues, in a variety of ways.
Dr. Esra Weisheif, who has been practicing veterinary medicine for more than 20 years, takes a very personal approach when it comes to taking care of animals.
“The goal here is to be the family doctor,” she said. “To keep them healthy and find alternative options. … Alternative medicine, when used appropriately with Western medicine, gives an added benefit. We’re open in trying to figure out what’s best for one’s pet.”
Dr. Esra spent her early years abroad and grew up playing with stray dogs and cats.
“From early on, I knew I wanted something to do with animals,” she said.
Her passion for animals led her to Kenya, where she considered a career in wildlife management. It was there she realized veterinary medicine was what she wanted to focus on. After graduating from Tufts University in 1997, she worked primarily in Maryland, eventually opening her own practice, before feeling the call of the First Coast and relocating in 2014.
“It’s wonderful weather,” Dr. Esra said. “We fell in love with St. Augustine.”
Along with her traditional veterinary practices, Dr. Esra also brings along extensive knowledge of alternative therapies to treat cats and dogs, including certification in veterinary acupuncture, dog physical therapy and canine rehab therapy. She said these alternative techniques are especially beneficial for dogs with arthritis, ACL injuries and elderly dogs.
“I think that’s what brought me to grow in the other direction,” Dr. Esra said of using alternative therapies. “Just giving a pill didn’t seem like enough.”
The clinic boasts an underwater treadmill, state-of-the-art lab equipment and a doggy gym. Dr. Esra said she’s seen a big difference in the well-being of pets when the alternative therapies are included in the treatment process.
“The most rewarding results are back cases, where you get them to walk again,” she said.
The pet care industry is continuing to boom with more than half of the households in the United States having at least one pet, according to the 2017 Pet Industry Analysis.
According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent $17 billion on their pets in 1994, but that number quadrupled to an estimated $62.75 billion by 2016. Nutrition, veterinary care and pet services made up a huge chunk of that number, which doesn’t surprise Dr Esra.
“More people are educating themselves (about what’s best for their pet),” she said. “They’re no longer just animals, that’s their child.”
The Nease Animal Hospital is located at 10440 U.S. Highway 1 N., and offers medical boarding, patient after care, grooming and dog training along with alternative therapy and traditional veterinary care. The clinic’s hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7:30 to noon Saturday. For more information, go to neaseanimalhospital.com, email email@example.com or call (904) 209-5740.