By Deborah Bostock-Kelley

When veterinarian Dr. David Danielson and his partner and wife, Michelle Danielson, talk about their family-owned, full-service practice, Caring Paws Animal Hospital, you could never doubt how much they love their patients. If someone overheard the conversation out of context, they could easily assume the couple is talking about healing human patients, not the four-legged variety – cats, dogs, and exotic pets. 

Dr. D  (as he is known by staff and long-time clients) and Michelle opened Caring Paws to serve as a resource to the growing southwest Pasco county community. Though the practice is new, patients will recognize the veterinarian’s familiar face. He has been practicing small and exotic animal medicine in Northwest Hillsborough County for over twenty-seven years. 

A rare Tampa native and a graduate of the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Danielson’s background includes experience in Field Biology, Wildlife Ecology, Comparative Anatomy, and Zoology.

The philosophy at Caring Paws, the impetus for the effort, is his approach to caring for pets as children.

“We treat pets as our own pets, but the emphasis that I’ve embraced over the years and the focus is that to our clients and ourselves – these are children. I would give the same level of care and concern as if you’d brought me a three-year-old,” said Dr. Danielson. “Another focus of this practice is diving deep into diagnostics and working toward solving the puzzles of complex issues. I’m not one to continue to tread on the same path. If there is a case where there are three other doctors that have been dealing with this situation that hasn’t been resolved, I ask  -why?  Let’s look deeper and see if we can find the root cause for the problem.   At this practice, I embrace the newer diagnostic tools available to uncover the causes of issues. Rather than wait for a problem to become a problem, we look for objective evaluators. I strive to be proactive in detecting diseases and problems before they become clinical. The goal is to keep these kids in quality and longevity of life with quality preventative care along with additional tools such as the use of regenerative medicine when and where appropriate.” 

Dr. Danielson is proof that when you answer a calling as a teenager to help animals and have the opportunity to do what you love as a career, you are one of the very few with the best job in the world.

“He opened this practice because he wanted to have the freedom and opportunity to practice in his own style,”  said Michelle. “He wanted to continue to provide his brand of family-oriented, quality veterinary care that he’s been practicing since 1994.”

The state-of-the-art, progressive practice provides preventative and wellness care services for the area’s companion animals at all stages of life.  From initial wellness visits for kittens and puppies to providing specialized care for elderly pets. Senior wellness plans include performing a comprehensive, in-depth blood panel to screen for potential diseases and cardiac-specific bloodwork and diagnostics, including cardiac ultrasound, for your elderly cat or dog. Caring Paws also has the ability to consult with board-certified veterinary professionals should the need arise. 

 “Having the ability to offer that service is definitely a value add that we are able to provide to people here,” she said.

Dentistry is also an integral part of the practice. Many pet parents are surprised to learn that dental disease can begin to present itself in dogs and cats as young as three years of age.  Deep cleaning, scaling, polishing, extractions, and full mouth dental x-rays are offered to help prolong the life and comfort of your pet.  A pre-surgical exam and bloodwork are done before the pet goes under anesthesia, and in-depth monitoring happens while under anesthesia to ensure your pet’s safety during the procedure. 

Regenerative medicine techniques available at Caring Paws include cold laser therapy, which helps with pain management, arthritic conditions, and wound healing.    

“Cold Laser Therapy can make a significant difference in managing those conditions and extending quality of life for senior patients as well as to help with mobility,” said Michelle.

One of the more compelling cases that Dr. Danielson worked on recently involved a kitten taken from a local animal shelter with severe trauma to the spinal cord.  Since the cord was not severed, it was the hope of both the shelter vet and Dr. Danielson that with time, care, and the proper treatment, the kitten would be able to regain the use of his legs.  

“Laser treatment was started immediately. After several weeks of three times a week therapy, along with a lot of love and TLC from his devoted foster mom, we are very pleased to report that he has begun to regain the use of his legs,” said Michelle.

Another instance of this cold laser therapy treatment improving quality of life involves a long-time client’s 14-year-old lab/retriever mix.  The owner visited Caring Paws in its opening days, prepared to make the most difficult decision to euthanize the pup.  After discussing treatment options with Dr. Danielson, the client decided to try the cold laser therapy.  As a result, the dog’s quality of life improved, and they were able to enjoy several months of precious time with their beloved companion.  

Stem cell therapy is another progressive regenerative therapy offered at Caring Paws.  This process involves harvesting a pet’s fat cells, isolating the stem cells from the fat, and injecting them into the area of concern, triggering an anti-inflammatory response and promoting tissue regeneration.  This technique was recently performed on a client’s elderly cat suffering from crippling arthritis.  A month after treatment, her condition has improved significantly, and she is able to move around much better.

“Additionally,  we can collect stems cells during a dog’s spay or neuter surgery and arrange for them to be banked for potential use later in that animal’s life,” said Michelle.

Platelet Rich Plasma is another more cost-effective type of regenerative medicine. Platelets taken from blood drawn are used to repair a wide range of chronic conditions and long-term management. Platelet Rich Plasma can speed the repair of tissue damage caused by arthritis, sprains, soft tissue injuries, or tendonitis.

“We’re not giving up so quickly and actually looking for solutions to historical problems. We’re succeeding and seeing positive change in conditions I thought unresolvable before,” said Dr. Danielson. “I consider this my calling to help. I see pets as an integral part of our lives, and they fulfill such a need for unconditional love. It’s what gives me passion, and it’s my way of helping the world by helping these children live longer in their lives; it’s supporting their owners too. People need these animals in their lives because they give them love. I do this every day. I actually deal in preserving love, and that’s what drives me. I’m proud of the relationships that we’ve built and the kids that we helped. This vision that I have of what I think this profession should be – we’re able to fulfill that – and seeing that reflected in the faces of the people we’re helping and the animals. I’m just proud to be doing such purposeful work.”

CaringPaws Animal Hospital is located at 15997 Preserve Marketplace Blvd. in Odessa. To learn more, visit www.caringpawsanimalhospital.com.