By Matt Wiley
Lasers and acupuncture may not sound like words usually associated with pets and vets, but the Cross Creek Animal Medical Centre uses both to keep pets in both New Tampa and Wesley Chapel healthy.
Dr. Timothy D. Hodge, D.V.M., and his staff have a passion for pets that has resonated through their use of new technology — and superior customer service — since the veterinary hospital first opened in 2003.
Cross Creek is a full-service animal hospital now located in the Cory Lake Isles Professional Center off of Cross Creek Blvd. in New Tampa, geared towards helping dogs, cats and “pocket pets,” such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets.
The hospital has taken advantage of new technologies, such as laser surgeries and procedures, and made them the focus of the office’s pet care since it opened. Dr. Hodge and his staff believe that his use of laser surgeries for so many years and the entire staff’s devotion to customer service are what separates Cross Creek from other animal care facilities in the area.
“We had decided in the very beginning that because laser technology was really taking off and it was more affordable, and small animal practices could have this service, we purchased the laser from the very beginning,” says Dr. Hodge. “We made it part of our procedures from the get-go. That’s the new standard of care.”
Dr. Hodge uses a surgical laser for all of the surgical procedures he performs. He says that it provides a much better experience for the pet because, as opposed to an incision with a scalpel, a laser doesn’t leave exposed nerve endings and blood vessels when it cuts.
“That’s where you get more pain,” he explains. “But, the laser seals nerve endings and blood vessels as it cuts, making the procedure almost bloodless. It’s less painful; there’s less discomfort. And, pets are less likely to mess with their incisions afterwards.”
Hodge says he first saw a surgical laser in action during his last few years of veterinary school at Mississippi State University in Starkville before gradating with his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1995.
In addition to the surgical laser, Dr. Hodge and his staff also use a companion therapeutic laser, a small portable laser that emits a circle of red light and is used to treat arthritis, skin irritations, swelling, chronic ear issues and other issues. The laser is mobile, so pets can be brought in for treatment, or it can even be taken on house calls.
Hodge says that the therapeutic laser has been used a lot recently in physical therapy and sports medicine for humans, noting that in some cases, it helps athletes avoid surgery and get back in the game more quickly.
“Patients usually want to come back,” Hodge says. “We tell them to see how one laser session goes. They usually call back and say they want to set up a package.”
At Cross Creek, Hodge says he likes to get to the bottom of the problem and eliminate it completely.
“It’s what I consider ‘un-stacking the deck of cards,’” he says. “Every time I do a laser session, I’m taking off a certain amount of cards from the stack. Eventually, you want to get down to as low as possible, so there’s no pain, no discomfort; that’s all gone.”
By using the laser to reduce inflammation and irritation with different pet ailments, Hodge says it helps to reduce the amount of oral medication he has to prescribe for the pet. “If we can get these pets off chronic medication, that’s great,” he says.
Shelley Cobb and her eight-year-old Sheltie Joey, know the benefits of the companion laser.
“He is on his second package now and he is very happy,” says Cobb. “He is part of the family and I am happy that I do not have to give him medication every day. Overall, we are very pleased and will continue to have the therapeutic laser sessions performed on Joey.”
Another technique Hodge uses to try to offer alternatives to oral medication is the Eastern practice of acupuncture to treat common pet issues, such as arthritis. He uses Western medical practices to diagnose the problem, and then offers acupuncture as a treatment option to “help the body heal itself.”
“I like to think of it more as ‘integrated medicine,’” he says. “We use a little of (Eastern and Western medicine) to optimize our care for the pets.”
Cross Creek does not practice what Hodge describes as “shotgun medicine,” where a person brings in a pet and the vet just writes a prescription and sends them on their way. He says that getting to use cutting-edge technology and run his practice his way were always his goals.
“I was an associate vet for seven years, so I worked under another doctor, who was the owner of that clinic,” he explains. “At that point, I thought I was ready to branch out on my own. I kind of had my own ideas of how I would run a place, how I would do certain things.”
In 2003, he decided to make his dream a reality and started Cross Creek Animal Medical Centre from scratch, instead of moving his office into someone else’s previous location.
“At that point, everything you plan is basically how you want it,” he explains. “You’re not going in and buying a facility that’s already set up a certain way with a certain thought process, and then you’ve got to mold that to your way. It was easier to just start from the beginning, my way, and then have everything develop after that.”
In 2011, Dr. Hodge and Cross Creek moved to their current facility in the Cory Lake Isles Professional Center, just down the street on Cross Creek Blvd. from their previous location in another retail center.
“I love this area,” says Hodge. “The community is wonderful.”
And, speaking of the community, Dr. Hodge says he likes to give back. He says that any surplus food or pet supplies are donated to the Humane Society or Animal Services.
He also is starting a “charitable trust,” a new program that will soon help customers who may not be able to afford a certain procedure or medication at the time that their pet needs it.
“This charitable trust will be there to say, ‘Okay, we’ll take care of the bill. We’ll help you out with donations towards that area,” he says. Other customers can donate a few dollars whenever they can, and that money will be there for them, too, should they ever need it.
Another way that Cross Creek is helping the community is setting up year-long packages for pet care that save the customer money.
“If they sign up for this plan, over the course of a year, the pet owner can save anywhere between 20-25-percent if they were to be paying each visit for these vaccines and wellness care over the course of the year,” he explains. “It’s something that we’re doing to help make pet care more affordable.”
Cross Creek offer plans for a variety of pets and offers a variety of other services, such as dental care, grooming and boarding. Cross Creek also offers heart ultrasounds, which are available twice a month.
For more information about Cross Creek Animal Medical Centre, including a complete list of services offered and pet health plans available, visit CrossCreekVet.com. Or, stop in at 10323 Cross Creek Blvd., Suite H. in the Cory Lake Isles Professional Center, just past Cory Lake Isles Dr. in New Tampa. The office also can be reached by phone at 994-6929.