Meet the NorthStar VETS Team: Kristin Britton, DVM

Kristin Britton, DVM is a member of the Avian and Exotics team at NorthStar VETS. In this blog post and video below, she talks about her education, what Avian and Exotics medicine is all about, and her opinion on the human animal bond for exotic pets.

How Dr. Britton got into Veterinary Medicine
We caught up with Dr. Britton, who was examining a parrot in Robbinsville. Dr. Britton recently joined NorthStar VETS, working with avian and exotics patients, and her interest in these patients first began with her internship in Alaska. “I did an internship at the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward, Alaska. Through that internship, I got to work with the rehabilitation department. I met veterinarians and technicians there who were doing incredible things, and that got me started on the path to becoming a veterinarian. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Marine Science from the University of Hawaii in Hilo. After that, I ended up working as a technician for about five years in California and in Georgia. There were too many people telling me that I needed to be a veterinarian, so I ended up going to veterinary school down at Ross University in Saint Kitts. I was able to do a lot of sea turtle work there, and got to work on some really incredible exotic patients. After that, I did my clinical year at Kansas State University.”

What Avian and Exotics is all about
Dr. Britton sees a wide variety of cases each week. “My specialty is technically in birds. I will hopefully be boarded within the next year in Avian Medicine, but I see all sorts of exotics. An exotic pet is anything that is not a dog or a cat, and usually not farm animals. That’s anything from a pot-bellied pig to a leopard gecko – birds, reptiles, amphibians, spiders, pocket pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, you name it!” The variety of animals and the differences between each animal can make Dr. Britton’s job quite challenging. “There are so many different types of animals that I work with, and so many specific things about those animals that are very important. That’s why I feel that my job is so special. There are certain antibiotics that you can’t give to rabbits or guinea pigs because of the special type of bacteria that they have in their stomach. For some animals, you can’t draw blood from certain areas, and for others, there are things you can’t do in a dog or a cat. That’s what makes our specialty very unique. We have to keep all of this in our head, we’re constantly learning all the time, and research is constantly changing what we know about exotics and how we can better provide care for them whether that be husbandry, surgery or medicine.”

The Types of Cases Dr. Britton Sees
Dr. Britton enjoys the unique atmosphere of her job and she is constantly learning how to better care for her patients. “When anything is challenging or throws me for a little bit of a loop, I love getting down to the bottom of that detective work. I comb the research that’s out there, what we know now regarding the most advanced medicine, and how we can best help that patient. There are many fun cases as well. I love bird patients with feather-plucking issues, or birds that have behavioral issues. I really have a soft spot for reptiles. I really just enjoy working with the wide variety. With the different types of patients, you never know what’s going to be coming in the door. That keeps it interesting and fun. Educating clients is the big part that I really like. I love that one-on-one conversation with a pet parent to help them better understand their exotic pet and make a better quality of life at home, too.”

What Dr. Britton loves about Practicing at NorthStar VETS
The team at NorthStar VETS helps Dr. Britton provide world-class care to any patient that walks through the door. “NorthStar VETS is an amazing facility because of all the specialists here. I can take a ferret with a heart murmur over to Cardiology and say ‘Hey, I’m worried about the heart.’ I can talk with our Radiologist and say, “Hey, I’m seeing some strange things on this patient’s X-ray. What do you think of this?’ I can go down the hall and speak with Oncology and say, ‘We’ve diagnosed cancer. What do we do for dogs and cats with this?’ There aren’t a lot of protocols for exotics patients with cancer. Working with all of these specialists gives me access to what they’re specialized in and pull from that to create the best treatment plan for that patient. It’s invaluable. NorthStar VETS is a great resource for an Exotics veterinarian and I’m just so thankful to be here.”

Dr. Britton’s Opinion of the Human Animal Bond with Exotics
Dr. Britton’s favorite part of her job is interacting with the owners of exotics pets. “The patients are great. They’re super fun, they’re super cute, but for me it’s all about the clients – the people who love these types of pets are the ones to whom I really get connected. Their willingness to do what’s best for their animal, and to make a change when needed, and seeing that relationship between them and their pet grow into a strong bond is amazing. When many people think of exotics, they don’t think of that bond, but sometimes it’s much stronger there than with a dog or a cat.”

Learn more about the Avian and Exotics service at NorthStar VETS

Kristin Britton, DVMKristin Britton, DVM
Dr. Kristin Britton attended veterinary school at Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and graduated in 2012. She went on to complete a small animal rotating internship at the Animal Emergency Medical Center in Torrance, CA. She was then accepted into a wildlife specialty internship in medicine and surgery at The Wildlife Center of Virginia. Dr. Britton then traveled to Saskatoon, SK to complete a wildlife, exotic, and zoological internship at the University of Saskatchewan’s teaching hospital. She then accepted an ABVP Avian Residency position at the Veterinary Center for Birds & Exotics in Bedford Hills, NY. Dr. Britton has worked with a wide variety of exotic pets, wildlife, and zoological animals ranging from as small as a vole to as large as a whale. After finishing her residency, she has landed here at NorthStar VETS where she’s excited to continue to practice high quality medicine with a wide range of exotic patients!

Dr. Britton is originally from California, but currently lives in Morrisville, PA. She shares her home with her boyfriend, and a charming grumpy old Shih-Tzu named Riley. She likes to keep active and loves hiking, scuba diving, kayaking, and exploring all that the East coast has to offer.

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