More Wags, More Purrs

by Apr 11, 2024Animals, Southport Oak Island

At Dragonfly Holistic Veterinary Clinic in Southport, Dr. Kristen Colleran uses acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, herbal supplements and other natural modalities to heal pets.

At Dragonfly Holistic Veterinary Clinic in Southport, pets feel right at home.

“I wanted my clinic to be like a room in the pet’s own house,” owner Dr. Kristen Colleran says. “My clinic is a comfortable place for pets where they come without fear. It is much easier to see normalcy and abnormalities when a pet is comfortable and relaxed. When they are stressed and their adrenal system is in high gear, it is more difficult to get a good read.”

That setting, as well as the name she chose for her practice, aligns perfectly with Colleran’s choice of veterinary medicine with holistic modalities.

Colleran knew she wanted to be a vet since she was 6 years old.

“I loved animals and felt a strong affinity for them,” she says. “It was my dream to learn about helping and healing animals. And it just might be in my blood. My great uncle and several cousins in Ireland are veterinarians.”

Colleran explains that she looks at a pet holistically, as an entire entity, mind, body and spirit, and that is how she came up with the name of her practice.

“A dragonfly is a symbol of metamorphosis, of transformation,” she says. “My goal is to transform an animal’s health and state of being to the healthiest and most balanced it can be.”

Dragonfly Holistic Vet Southport NC

To heal her patients, Colleran uses acupuncture, veterinary spinal manipulation (better known as chiropractic manipulation), Traditional Chinese veterinary medicine, herbal therapy, essential oils, nutritional/glandular supplements, laser therapy and Reiki (a type of energy healing). She uses the modalities interchangeably, depending on the pet’s needs.

“No one size fits all,” she says. “That’s the beauty of holistic medicine. We treat the patient, not the disease.”

In general, Colleran explains, acupuncture, herbal therapy and Tui-Na, also called Chinese therapeutic massage, address problems from the core level rather than addressing symptoms. “These therapies do not adversely affect other organs as can occur with allopathic treatment,” she says. “And they are much more gentle on a pet’s body.”

Colleran’s most frequent patients are dogs and cats, but she has also treated horses. Conditions include musculoskeletal disorders including arthritis, intervertebral disc disease, cruciate (knee) injuries, chronic kidney and liver disease, chronic skin disease and chronic gastrointestinal problems. According to Colleran, spinal manipulation can restore mobility in certain situations, like a dog jumping off a bed and coming up lame, while also helping to maintain optimal neural system function.

In her practice, she also addresses the emotional lives of pets as well as behavioral issues.

“I ensure that they have plenty of positive, loving attention, lots of activity to stimulate thinking and problem solving, as well as strengthening muscles and joints,” Colleran says. “It’s important to address anxiety, irritability and fears. Mental, emotional and physical balance are all vital to our pets’ well-being.”

Colleran’s list of credentials is extensive. She has a bachelor’s degree in animal science from the University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign and a veterinary degree with honors in small animal medicine from University College Dublin, a member institution of the National University of Ireland.

Holistic Vet Dragonfly Southport NC

Growing up, Colleran heard a lot about Ireland from her grandfather, who was from County Sligo in northwestern Ireland. Her high school graduation gift was a trip to Ireland.

“I loved it so much that I went back yearly, even taking a year off from undergraduate studies to work on a horse farm in County Limerick,” she says. “I decided that I wanted to live there. The only way I could practice veterinary medicine in Ireland was to attend veterinary college in Ireland. So, I applied and thankfully was accepted to the veterinary college, which only accepted 10 Americans each year at that time.”

In 2009 Colleran was certified in veterinary acupuncture at Chi University in Reddick, Florida. She is also certified in veterinary spinal manipulative therapy and is a master Reiki practitioner. She is currently training in veterinary rehabilitation and veterinary homeopathy.

Opening her small clinic in Southport facilitated more people who were wishing for veterinary care that uncovers the root cause.

“I’d been dabbling with a mobile house call practice since I worked in the New York area over 10 years ago,” she says. “After relocating to North Carolina, I’ve had many people contact me for holistic care.”

Colleran suggests that pets have access to both types of veterinary care: allopathic care to handle very acute issues and diagnostics or surgery as well as holistic care.

“For the most part, the two styles of practice can complement and even enhance each other,” she says, adding that she believes in transitioning pets to fresh, minimally processed foods. She also offers microbiome assessment and guidance on diet to help restore healthy gut function.

Southport Dragonfly Holistic Vet

In her free time Colleran likes to read, standup paddleboard and walk with her pup, a 2-year-old Maltipoo rescue named Finn. She practices yoga and recently completed yoga instructor training. Meditation helps her to relax, but hiking is her passion. “It’s where I find my center,” she says.

Originally from Chicago, Colleran says that living near the ocean has been a source of healing for her. She spends time on the beach as a member of the sea turtle rescue program on Oak Island.

“I feel that everything on this planet is interwoven — the natural environment of forests, seas, plains, mountains, animals and us,” she says. “To me, aiding sea turtles is a natural inclination. If we don’t protect and facilitate the natural workings of our planet, we won’t have a healthy place to call home. I am not only a veterinarian, but a conservationist and an environmentalist. For me, those roles are combined.”

At the end of the day, simply interacting with the animals is Colleran’s motivation.

“Seeing the difference that acupuncture or chiropractic can make in an animal’s quality of life, which also affects the quality of life of the pet parent, is most rewarding,” she says. “When our pets suffer, we suffer. When our pets are happy and content, so are we.”

Looking for Holistic Pet Care?
Dragonfly Holistic Veterinary Clinic
910) 448-4676
Facebook: dragonflymobilevet

Photography by Jim Robertson