New doctor in town for local pets
September 13, 2013
When Kate Bjordahl was 3 years old, she hooked her pet cat, Meemow, up to a machine to assess his blood pressure while her mother snapped a photo. Years later, prophecy fulfilled, Bjordahl is a veterinarian and has opened her own practice, Powder Paws Vet Clinic, in Park City.
"I also wrote a note in fourth grade saying I was going to be a veterinarian," said Bjordahl, who always thought she would enter into the field of human medicine. "I didn’t remember any of this, but I guess I had aspirations from a young age."
Bjordahl majored in biology at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and she said that it was always the animal physiology classes that drew her in. Upon graduation, instead of applying to medical school, she applied to veterinary school and was accepted at Ohio State University in her home state.
During her years at Ohio State, Bjordahl worked with giraffes at the Columbus Zoo, with thoroughbred horses at a race track, on a llama and alpaca farm, and with koalas and kangaroos at the Currumbin Animal Sanctuary in Australia for an internship.
"At the zoo one day, one of the giraffes had a hoof abscess," Bjordahl said of her unique experience. "I was picking up his hoof, and he turned his head all the way around and looked me in the face; I was facing towards his tail, so that kind of shocked me."
She graduated from Ohio State in 2002 and moved to Utah for her husband’s medical training at the University of Utah; he is a kidney doctor. While he trained, she worked at a veterinary clinic in Salt Lake City. Five years later, they moved to Park City.
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The mother of two young children, a 3-year-old boy named Bergen and a 15-month-old daughter named Ingrid, Bjordahl chose to stop working and stay home to be with her daughter, who experienced some medical problems. Now that she is healthy, Bjordahl made the choice to go back to doing the work she loves.
"I decided that when it was time to go back, I was going to do it on my own and hang my own shingle up," Bjordahl said. "I wanted to start a boutique vet clinic with personalized care, and I’ve just been dreaming of my own space, layout, and what I wanted it to feel like for years."
personalized care, Bjordahl said she means that she wants her patients to know that they are not just a number, and that when they enter the clinic, they will be seeing her specifically.
Her dream clinic has plenty of windows, including one in her surgery room that looks out into the mountains. There are also four exam rooms, a dental digital X-ray machine, a full-body X-ray machine, and an anaesthetic machine that creates its own oxygen.
The exam rooms have the standard fold-up steel tables for small dog and cat examinations, but Bjordahl had couches put in the rooms for larger breeds of dogs.
"I see a lot of big dogs up here that I like to sit down on the floor with or have them up on the couch," Bjordahl said. "I can make it more like home, and I know a lot of dogs that are nervous at the vet are more open to examinations when I just sit on the floor with them."
According to Bjordahl, her fortes are surgery and dental work. One special service she will offer is dental cleaning for her canine patients without anesthesia. Dental hygienists will come to her clinic from California twice a month and use dental ultrasonic scalars and gentle handling techniques to perform the procedure.
After working with them in Salt Lake City, she has seen their work first hand and trusts them to take the best care of her patients. The only requirement is an appointment with Bjordahl beforehand to assess the dog’s mouth and teeth to see if they are a candidate for the procedure.
"I can offer advanced dental care, which we found prolongs dogs’ lives," Bjordahl said. "Good dental care can extend their lives by two years."
Otherwise, Bjordahl offers full preventative care, soft-tissue and orthopedic surgery, and emergency care. After 10 years of experience treating animals in Utah, Bjordahl is familiar with the diseases and accidents pets are prone to encounter in the area.
She has treated ski cuts, insect bites that cause bruising in the belly area, moose kicks and stompings, porcupine quills, altitude sickness, and giardia a parasite dogs usually contract while drinking from mountain streams, she said.
"I really enjoy it, because you help people by helping their animals," Bjordahl said. "I like being the ‘other’ family doctor."
Powder Paws will take credit cards and payment in full at the time of service. However, Bjordahl said that she is working with several pet insurance companies to get some plans in place to offer more options.
Until then, Bjordahl will continue to work close by to her family, which includes two children, two rescued dogs and two rescued cats.
"I just want people to know that I would treat their pet as I would my own," Bjordahl said. "I will perform the same medical care that I would perform on my own pets."