Low Stress Handling: How A Veterinarian’s Unique Tattoo Helps Her Practice Medicine

ToniAnn Venturelli DVM in Northern Liberties, PA

For many pet owners, a trip to the veterinarian can be a source of stress and anxiety. But for veterinarians like Dr. ToniAnn Venturelli, partner doctor at Heart + Paw – Northern Liberties, making vet visits a positive experience is her top priority. Dr. Venturelli shares insights into her favorite areas of veterinary medicine, as well as the unique tools and techniques she uses to provide compassionate care to every pet. From tattooed measurement markers to a focus on low-stress handling, this her commitment to medicine shines through in every aspect of her work.

What About Practicing Veterinary Medicine Gets You Out of Bed in the Morning? 

Knowing that I will make a pet feel better. There is no better feeling than hearing from a client that their pet is improving after the care you provide. Also I love the excitement of the unknown going into a day. I thrive on being able to do an emergency surgery at 3:00 pm and potentially save a life.

What are Your Favorite Areas/ Special Interests in Veterinary Medicine?

Pain management! I have had a few back surgeries because intervertebral disc disease runs in my family and there is nothing worse than being in pain. When you can help a pet (especially the old arthritic lab) be more comfortable and even be up for a game of fetch, that is incredibly rewarding and strengthens the human-animal bond.  

veterinarian with puppy

Can You Share a Time Where You Felt You Had a Meaningful Breakthrough with a Pet Parent? 

The chronic environmental allergy cases seem to have [breakthroughs] often. The pet is uncomfortable, the client is exhausted, and after a long consultation, usually just having a firm plan in place is enough to make a huge difference.  

What Unique Skills/ Tools/ Tactics Do You Find Yourself Consistently Relying on When Practicing? 

My staff (and maybe some of my clients) have noticed that I have 8 dots tattooed on my right pointer finger. What a lot of people don’t realize is those 8 dots represent 8 centimeters. I got this tattoo because I found very early on in my career that while I was sprawled out on the floor trying to get a good look at a lump or bump on a pet, the last thing I wanted to do was go looking for callipers/ a ruler to get an accurate measurement. This actually is my only tattoo and I use it every day! 

finger tattoo

Dr. Venturelli’s 8cm finger tattoo helps her size lumps and bumps when she is hands-on with a pet.

What is Your Biggest Goal as a Veterinarian with Heart + Paw? 

My biggest goal is to truly practice and advocate for low-stress handling. Vet visits can be extremely stressful for client and patient and I want to make the whole experience more enjoyable- even if that means spray cheese goes all over the walls.  

How Do You Feel You Live/ Practice Heart + Paw’s Core Values (Transparent, Collaborative, Trusting, Empathetic, Attentive)? 

It’s important to remember when practicing medicine that you are treating a member of someone’s family. This means every pet, their story, and their needs are different. I strive to make sure I create a partnership with families to make sure we create a treatment plan that is completely tailored to their pet’s needs. This takes full transparency, collaboration, trust, empathy, and attention.veterinarian with cats

What Advice Would You Give to Students Considering a Career in the Veterinary Industry? 

It’s common to hear students want to go into vet med because they “don’t like people, only animals.” While you may not have to ~like~ people, the reality is you must be good with people.  

What is Your Best Veterinary Advice to People Who Own Pets in the City? 

I see fleas AND ticks year-round. Those guys don’t take a day off here in Philadelphia. Give your prevention monthly!  

How Do You Take Your Coffee? 

I actually only drink shots of espresso with a tiny splash of that Trader Joe’s Coconut & Almond creamer in it.

How Do You Unwind at the End of the Day? 

I love to watch trash TV, specifically Bravo. Currently obsessed with #scandoval

Favorite Philly Restaurant? 

Impossible to choose just one, so here’s a list- Her Place Supper Club, Royal Izakaya, Laser Wolf, Neighborhood Ramen, Fiorella, K’Far, Middle Child.

Favorite Philly Sports Team? 

Go Flyers!

If You Had to Eat the Same Meal for Dinner Every Night, What Would it Be? 


veterinarian with dog

You can book an appointment online with Dr. ToniAnn Venturelli today!

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About Us

Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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