Many may know Dr. Evan Antin as the veterinarian dubbed “Sexiest Beast Charmer” by People, but his clients know him as the caring doctor who performs regular check-ups on their beloved pets.
Since the beginning of this year, Dr. Antin has gone from having just 11,000 to 274,000 followers on Instagram. It’s not hard to see the appeal of his account, which is filled with pictures of the most adorable fuzzy creatures.
It also doesn’t hurt that his account includes fascinating animal facts that are explained by a very good-looking doctor. I had the opportunity to shadow Dr. Antin, who kindly welcomed NextShark to the Conejo Valley Veterinarian Hospital in Thousand Oaks, California. Dr. Antin has been at the Conejo Valley Vet Hospital for a total of three years.
I was called in at 8:30 a.m. to meet his first patient of the day, a beautiful South American aracari, which is closely related to the toucan. The female aracari came in to get an examination of the bone and joint alignment in her feet and toes. Aracaris are tropical birds that are mainly fed a diet of fruits and insects and are known to enjoy spending time with their owners.
As a vet at the Conejo Valley Vet Hospital, Dr. Antin sees about 12 to 20 patients a day. He’s also on call for emergencies on the weekend and had already been at the hospital for a 13-hour shift the Sunday before.
He received his degree in biology from the University of Colorado and his doctor of veterinary medicine from Colorado State University. Dr. Antin’s advice for aspiring veterinarians is to follow your heart since it takes a lot of years of hard work, dedication and possibly student debt to become one. Those who go into the field don’t do it for the money, but rather for their passion for animals.
As a college student, he took multiple classes in evolution, ecology and zoology. According to Dr. Antin, he excelled in organic chemistry in school but says he doesn’t use it as much in his day-to-day practice. However, microbiology is pretty applicable as Dr. Antin scans for protozoal, bacterial and fungal organisms under the microscope in the photo below. The liquid sample was taken from the stomach of a sick parakeet to determine whether she had any protozoal organisms, which are similar to parasites.
Despite the overwhelming attention from the media, Dr. Antin says life at the hospital has been pretty normal with the exception of all the cameras. He recently collaborated on a project with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cameron Newton and filmed a segment for a German show at the hospital.
Dr. Antin led me on a thorough tour of the hospital and introduced me to the other veterinarians. I was able to witness the busy inner workings of a veterinary hospital and observe surgical operations. I watched one of his colleagues, Dr. Cao, neuter a dog in the surgery room, something I never thought I’d see in person.
Though Dr. Antin sees dogs and cats, he specializes in reptiles and is known as the “reptile bird guy.” He’s wrestled caimans, the Brazilian equivalent of a crocodile in the Amazon, and has been spit at by a venomous cobra in Asia. One of his mid-day patients was a water dragon, which he recalled catching in the wild during one his exciting trips to Indonesia.
This particular patient hadn’t been eating and his scales had turned a dull green color. Dr. Antin force fed the reptile and performed an enema after attempting to make it poop. For his diagnosis, he prescribed the water dragon to be given direct, unfiltered sunlight for UVB. Dr. Antin explained that UVB is needed to synthesize vitamin D in the body, which is essential for calcium metabolism. Calcium plays an important role in the functioning of a body including the gastrointestinal tract and skeleton.
The owner of the water dragon, a 19-year-old named Daniel, aspires to be an animal doctor one day. Dr. Antin gave him advice on the veterinary programs he’s considering and welcomed him to contact him for further information and to perhaps even shadow him for a day.
Dr. Antin’s day was busy with a packed schedule of animals to see. His second bird patient was a small parakeet named Brûlée and his third bird patient of the day was a parrot named Marty who needed a beak and feather trimming. A parrot’s beak is actually made of keratin, the same proteins that make up human hair and nails.
After a lot of squawking and ruffled feathers, Marty’s beak was as good as new. Dr. Antin requested a fan be brought in to cool Marty down. Dr. Antin also shared the fun fact that a parrot’s peck is a lot more powerful than that of a toucan or aracari even though theirs may seem bigger and stronger.
During his time in between seeing patients, Dr. Antin returns to his office to finish some paperwork, make turkey sandwiches, snack on bananas and peanut butter and follow up with phone calls. On his lunch break, he goes to the local gym to get a workout in. In the past, he has worked as a personal trainer and model.
After lunch, Dr. Antin met with a pair of ferrets for check-ups and vaccinations. Ferrets are inquisitive creatures that are able to squeeze their bodies through the tiniest of spaces.
During the next patient visit, Dr. Antin was informed that one of the ferrets had a strong reaction to a vaccine and went to tend to the ferret.
Meanwhile, I was left to hang out with the cutest gentle giant and her owner, Michele. Koa is a 12-year-old, 123-pound Alaskan Malamute who enjoys playing and posing for pictures. He also likes trying to climb into your lap.
According to Michele, Koa has a strong liking for Dr. Antin. It was very apparent that the two were good buddies.
For his last patient of the day, Dr. Antin prepared a guinea pig for a dental operation. Though guinea pigs have very obvious front choppers, some might not know that they have molars that are difficult to examine in the back of their mouth. Here he’s gassing the furry creature to sleep.
This guinea pig hasn’t had much of an appetite lately and dental pain was a suspected cause. Dr. Antin also performed an ultrasound on the little guy to check and see if he was all ready for his operation.
Dr. Antin is a natural when it comes to handling animals. He’s traveled to far off places such as Asia and South America to work on wildlife conservation projects and at wildlife rehabilitation sanctuaries to treat exotic animals.
I had an enlightening experience shadowing Dr. Antin and meeting his delightful patients, pet owners and colleagues. After spending a day at a veterinary hospital, I can say I have much more respect for what veterinarians do.