Protecting Your Pets


Pet owners in Bluffton and Hilton Head Island now have an additional option for emergency veterinary care. 

Carolina Veterinary Critical Care opened Jan. 1 in Bluffton. Since then, owner Matthew Tenwolde has been kept quite busy caring for Lowcountry pets, offering emergency care late at night, early in the morning and on weekends.


“There are people who’ve been in the area a long time, and they’ve had those emergencies in the middle of the night,” Tenwolde said. “You’re 45 minutes to an hour-and-a-half away from the closest emergency clinic. That’s terrifying if you have a true emergency where your animal is not doing well, and the difference could be a matter of life and death.”

Tenwolde shares a space with Ben Parker of Coastal Veterinary Clinic at 21 Buck Island Rd. Soon, he will move into his own building and will be open 24 hours a day. He will also add specialty clinics for surgery, internal medicine, and dermatology. Tenwolde is thankful to have recently hired two additional veterinarians to help him keep up with the demand.

The issues Tenwolde sees in his office run the gamut from severe emergencies, such as diabetic crisis and bleeding internally, to torn toenails or pets just behaving strangely. 

The emergencies Tenwolde and other veterinarians see most often in the Lowcountry involve Sago palms and copperheads. He said every part of a Sago palm is toxic and can cause liver failure. He sees multiple cases of copperhead bites each week because the snakes are camouflaged and don’t shy away from animals. Tenwolde urges pet owners to keep an eye on their animals, especially in wooded areas. 

“If somebody’s worried about something, that’s why we’re there,” Tenwolde said. “If somebody feels like they’re having an urgent issue, whether we find it truly emergent or not, we’ll see them.”

Tenwolde has 16 years’ experience as a veterinarian. He graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis, and completed a medical and surgical internship at The Ohio State University. He also took a private surgical internship through Ethos Veterinary Health. 

vet3Tenwolde has worked in emergency and general practice veterinary medicine but has always found emergency work much more interesting. He opened an emergency department in Sacramento, Calif., and spent eight years running the department prior to moving to the Lowcountry.

Tenwolde’s wife, Bobbi Jean Tenwolde, is a Bluffton native. The two met and married in California, where she practiced medicine. When they visited Bluffton, he realized there was a need for around-the-clock emergency veterinary care, and the couple decided to make the big move across the country.

“We’re very blessed to be here,” Tenwolde said. “My clients and animals around here are certainly in need of having somebody to be able to call and get advice in the middle of the night. Whatever needs to happen, we’re able to provide that. We’re just very excited to be here.”

For more information on Carolina Veterinary Critical Care, visit, CarolinaVetCC on Facebook and Instagram, or call 843-706-9200.