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For Pet Owners

Information and advice for pet owners

If you have been referred to Rowe, your vet will have made the decision for your pet's treatment to continue with us. At Rowe we have a number of highly qualified clinicians and specialist equipment which allows us to carry out more detailed investigation and procedures that may not be available at your own practice.

If your pet is insured, then our experienced team will guide you through the process. If you don’t have insurance – don’t panic! We realise that getting your beloved pet the treatment they need is the most important thing. We offer an interest-free loan scheme with our partner Carefree Finance if the cost comes to over £250 – a credit check is required, please speak to the Reception Team for more details.

Information for clients with pet insurance

Here at Rowe we understand that when your pet is ill it can be an upsetting time. That’s why we are here to help you – not just in getting your pet the right course of treatment, but also to understand the financial impact that this may have.

The first time you see one of the Rowe Referrals vet team your pet will have a full veterinary assessment and then the vet will offer the best treatment plan and an estimate of the expected costs. 

If your pet is insured, we are happy to deal directly with most insurance companies if the estimated treatment is going to be over £400. There is a charge of £40 for this service. We will need to see your up to date insurance certificate, and ask that you fill out a Financial Services Agreement form for our records which includes leaving us with card details and your national insurance number. Unfortunately we are currently not able to do direct claims if your policy is underwritten by E and L or Perfect Pets. 

If your pet is insured but the treatment is under £400, or if you would prefer not to do a direct claim, we will ask for you to pay in full at the time of the consultation but we will send off your claim form to your insurance company for you with the relevant invoices. There is no charge for this service. 

Insurance policies vary widely and offer different levels of cover. All of them will ask that you pay a fixed excess at the beginning of the treatment, but some also ask for you to pay a co-payment towards the treatment cost that can be as much as 50%. Please look carefully through your insurance policy before coming to see us so that you don’t get any nasty surprises! 

If you have any questions or are concerned at all about the cost of your pet’s treatment, please speak to one of the Rowe Referrals Team on 01454 521000 and we will offer support and guidance. 
 

Information for clients without pet insurance

Here at Rowe we understand that when your pet is ill it can be an upsetting time. That’s why we are here to help you – not just in getting your pet the right course of treatment, but also to understand the financial impact that this may have.

The first time you see one of the Rowe Referrals vet team your pet will have a full veterinary assessment and then the vet will offer the best treatment plan and an estimate of the expected costs.

We ask for payment at the time of consultation or discharge if you pet is staying for treatment - we will inform you of the cost of the consultation at the time that the appointment is booked but please note this will not include any procedures or medications. A full statement outlining the costs of the treatment that your pet has received can of course be given to you.

If your pet requires a specialist procedure or surgical intervention – don’t panic! We realise that getting your beloved pet the treatment they need is the most important thing. We offer an interest-free loan scheme with our partner Carefree Finance if the cost comes to over £250 – a credit check is required, please speak to the Reception Team for more details.

If you have any questions or are concerned at all about the cost of your pet’s treatment, please speak to one of the Rowe Referrals Admin Team on 01454 521000 and we will offer support and guidance.

Local Area Information

Rowe Referrals has a large on-site car park at both the Bradley Stoke and Wotton-Under-Edge locations. 

For details of where we are, please see the Contact Us page.

If your pet is staying with us for a few hours or even a few days, the following information may be of interest to you.

Places to eat and drink in Bradley Stoke

The Hollow Tree – located just across from the hospital car park.

Costa Coffee – Located in the Willow Brook Centre, Bradley Stoke, a 5 minute drive away. 2A, Willow Brook Centre, Savages Wood Rd, Bradley Stoke, Bristol BS32 8BS.

Vee’s Kitchen – Located a 5 minute walk from the hospital in 4 Pear Tree Rd, Bradley Stoke, Bristol BS32 0BQ.

The Mall at Cribbs Causeway is just off Junction 17 of the M5 – you can find a wide variety of shops and restaurants here - BS34 5DG.
 

Accommodation

Double Tree by Hilton Bristol North - 01454 201144 Located in Aztec West a 5 minute drive away.

Travel Lodge Bristol Filton - Concorde Roundabout, Hayes Way, Patchway, Bristol BS34 5GN • 0871 559 1883 Located in Aztec West a 5 minute drive away.
 

Useful Info

Cataract Surgery

What is a Cataract?

Like a camera, eyes have a clear lens inside them that is used for focusing. A cataract is any opacity within a lens. The opacity can be very small (incipient cataract) and not interfere with vision. It can involve more of the lens (immature cataract) and cause blurred vision. Eventually, the entire lens can become cloudy, and all functional vision lost. This is called a mature cataract.

What is not a Cataract?

All geriatric dogs develop a hardening of the lens (Nuclear Sclerosis) that causes the lens to have a blueish-grey appearance. This does not usually interfere with vision. This is commonly confused with a true cataract but is a normal part of the ageing process.

Why did my dog develop a Cataract?

  • Most cataracts in dogs are inherited. The cataract may develop rapidly over weeks, or slowly over years, in one or both eyes.
  • Like humans, dogs also develop cataracts with age (often after 8 years of life).
  • Cataracts can also develop in dogs with diabetes mellitus or in orphan puppies on an artificial milk replacer diet.

How are Cataracts treated?

Once a lens has developed a cataract, there is no known method to make the lens clear again. There are a number of products marketed on the Internet for treating cataracts - despite the claims made there is no evidence that these expensive medications are useful. Immature and mature cataracts can be treated by surgically removing them.

The procedures and equipment used to remove cataracts in dogs are the same as those used in humans. A small incision is made in the eye and a hole is made in the capsular bag that holds the lens. Phacoemulsification is then performed, in which a special probe ultrasonically emulsifies and removes the cataract. After the entire lens is removed, an artificial replacement lens, called an intraocular lens or IOL, is sometimes placed in the bag. The eye is closed with extremely small sutures. Because even the slightest damage to structures in the canine eye can have disastrous effects, the surgery is performed under high magnification using an operating microscope. If both eyes are affected, both eyes can often be operated on at the same time.

How well will my dog see after Cataract surgery?

After successful cataract surgery dogs can often see close to normal. However, we cannot give dogs perfect vision. This is because only a handful of different IOLs are available for dogs and an exact replacement of the original lens is not possible. Furthermore, dogs have more inflammation in their eyes after surgery than humans and therefore have more scaring. This scaring may slightly decrease vision. Most owners notice a tremendous increase in their pets vision after cataract surgery, but they can still detect certain visual difficulties. These are particularly close vision and are more marked where it has not been possible to place an IOL.

After surgery, cataracts cannot recur. However, some dogs can have decreased vision years after cataract surgery due to formed scar tissue, glaucoma, or retinal detachment. In those dogs where it is not possible or advisable to use an IOL these dogs still see better, but are more far-sighted and close objects are more out of focus. The cornea does two thirds of the focusing of the eye, so vision is still present but not perfect if the lens (which does one third of the focusing) cannot be replaced.

Why is Cataract surgery so expensive?

Cataract surgery can cost as much as £2000-3000 per eye. The total cost depends in part on any complications present prior to surgery or arising after surgery but also on how quickly the eye recovers from surgery. Some patients will be off of all treatment by one month after surgery whilst other patients may require treatment for the rest of their lives. The surgery requires specialized, and expensive, equipment and training. The instruments used for cataract surgery in dogs are the same instruments used for cataract surgery in people. Furthermore, you are paying for the advanced training of a Veterinary Ophthalmologist.

What if Cataract surgery is not done?

Immature and mature cataracts can cause a serious reactive inflammation inside the eye (Lens Induced Uveitis, or LIU) that must be medically treated, whether or not surgery is performed. Cataract surgery is an elective procedure. If surgery is not performed, lifetime anti-inflammatory eye drops may be required, as well as periodic eye re-examinations. LIU can lead to complications such as glaucoma or a detached retina, and LIU decreases the success rate of cataract surgery. There is a best window of time in which to perform surgery. The earlier the cataract can be removed, the better.

What is involved in having Cataract surgery performed on my dog or cat?

The first step is to have your pet examined by one of the three Ophthalmologists at the eye clinic to determine if your pet is a good candidate for surgery. A pre operative blood profile, comprehensive physical exam, and assessment of anaesthetic level of risk is then performed. If your pet "passes" these tests, electroretinography (ERG) and gonioscopy testing is scheduled at our clinic, as inpatient procedures. They are performed under sedation or a short general anaesthetic, and cause no discomfort. ERG testing evaluates retinal function, as it is vital that the retina (the "film in the camera") is working, in order to perform cataract surgery. Gonioscopy evaluates the drainage angle of the eye to determine if the eye(s) are at increased risk of developing glaucoma postoperatively. If they are, additional medications will be prescribed and these medications may be administered for your pets lifetime. Ultrasonography of the eye(s) is also performed to measure the size of the lens and to look for complications such as a pre-existing retinal detachment. If your pet "passes" the ERG test, surgery can be scheduled. The eyes require at least seven days (and ideally 14 days) of medication immediately preceding the surgery day. On the day of surgery, your pet will need to arrive at the clinic early in the morning to receive intensive eye treatment before surgery. The surgery is performed and your pet is then hospitalised at our Veterinary hospital at Bradley Stoke for 2-3 days after surgery for continued intensive medical treatment and observation. It is sometimes necessary for repeat anaesthetics to be required during this period to address any complications which may arise. Your pet will not have eye patches. Vision usually improves during the first week but can be expected to improve over a 4-5 week period. Most dogs exhibit no pain after surgery. Your pet will require oral medication and several kinds of eye drops three to six times a day for the first few weeks after surgery, and on a lesser frequency for several months post surgery.

Your pet may be required to wear a cone-shaped restraint collar (E collar) the first two weeks after surgery to prevent self-trauma to the eyes. We also ask that you bring your pet back for re-examinations at one week, two weeks, one month and three months post and every six to twelve months thereafter. This re-examination schedule may change if there are post-operative complications.

What are the risks involved with Cataract surgery?

Cataract surgery is a highly successful procedure, but there are risks. Chances of your pet having improved vision after surgery are often high (85-90%). But 10% - 15% of dogs will not regain good vision due to complications, and may actually be permanently blind in one or both of the operated eyes. Some cases will have additional risk factors which make this success rate over optimistic - the Ophthalmologist will discuss these if they are identified during the pre-operative screening process. Common complications include:

  • Scar tissue. All dogs develop some intraocular scar tissue. Excessive scar tissue will limit vision.
  • Retinal detachment. While re-attachment is sometimes possible, the success rate is low and this complication usually results in complete vision loss.
  • Intraocular Infection. While it is rare, it can cause LOSS OF THE EYE (i.e. surgical removal of the eye) as well as complete vision loss.
  • Glaucoma. Glaucoma (increase in eye pressure) occurs in up to 30% of all dogs who have cataract surgery. Glaucoma not only can cause complete vision loss, but also may require the need for additional medications or surgery. It can be painful and cause LOSS OF THE EYE if uncontrolled.

Therefore, your pet has these risks if Cataract surgery is performed:

  • Development of a complication. This could result in poor to no vision, or in the most severe case surgical removal of the eye (which is rare).
  • General anesthesia. Anesthesia safety has progressed tremendously during the last decade. However, even healthy pets CAN DIE UNDER GENERAL ANESTHESIA. We take anesthesia seriously and use only the latest and safest medications at our clinic. All pets are monitored extensively by our surgical staff.

Although the thought of complications can be worrying the potential benefits of returning vision to a much loved pet can be enormous.

CT Scanning

What is CT?

CT (Computed tomography) scanning is a diagnostic tool which is used to look at various parts of the body, especially those made of bone, air and soft tissue structures. It uses X-rays to produce images.

CT is a continuous beam of X-rays which spins around a doughnut shaped gantry. The tube head which produces the X-ray beam spins very quickly and the patient is moved through on the table, and of each spin of the tube head, a series of slices of X-ray images are taken. Once this information is taken, computers use their software to produce images which we can recognise and interpret to help aid our diagnoses. Interpretation of the slices are sometimes sent for a second opinion to an advanced imager.

CT scanning has some advantages over plain x-rays and other types of imaging modalities.

  • CT produces slices which are cross sections of the patient and the software that the images are run through will remove any superimposition of any overlying structures, which makes our interpretation of images much easier.
  • Slices can be added together electronically to produce images and slices of different thicknesses to look for small abnormalities.
  • Unlike MRI scanning, Ct slices can be electronically stacked in many different directions so that the images can be manipulated and can reconstruct tissues which can help give more insight into an abnormality.

CT scanner at Rowe Referrals

The Siemens Somatom 16 slice CT scanner at Rowe Referrals can produce advanced images. Each time the tube head rotates 16 slices of imaging information can be obtained and the thickness of these slices can be adjusted, even down to half a millimetre in width. Scan length time is very short, for example, a large dog chest can be imaged in around 15 seconds, an incredibly short amount of time. For this reason most of our patients can be scanned with a sedative rather than full general anaesthesia, although sometimes anaesthesia cannot be avoided.

We sometimes need to look at some structures more carefully, and we use an injected dye (contrast agent) which is a liquid injected into the patient via their intravenous catheter. As the dye passes through the veins, arteries and organs, we take further sets of images to be able to see how this dye moves through the different body parts and can help us diagnose abnormalities with your pet.

Please contact us at any time if you are at all concerned.

General Anaesthesia

Why does my pet need to be anaesthetised?

Many of the procedures we carry out in the hospital cannot be performed conscious or under sedation as your pet will not be relaxed enough to ensure we can carry out investigations thoroughly. As we cannot ask your pet to sit still in specific positions for sometimes long periods of time general anaesthesia is often necessary even in diagnostic stages of referral to us

What is an anaesthetic?

There are various different types of anaesthetics, but they all lead to the loss of sensation. General anaesthetic enables the state of a reversible unconscious state which is normally begun by firstly injecting an induction agent into the vein, to start your pet ‘sleeping’ and then followed by gases being breathed in by your pet into their lungs to keep them asleep for a longer period of time. The drugs we use stop the brain being able to recognise messages being passed from the nerves in the body, as the anaesthetic drugs pass from the lungs into the blood-steam and finally to the brain

My pet is having an anaesthetic, what do I need to do?

  • You will be instructed by our team to fast your pet overnight. The length of time of the starve will be determined by the procedure you pet is being referred for and you will be advised when booking your referral appointment
  • Please allow you pet access to water throughout the fasting period
  • Please keep cats indoors before the procedure to prevent them from getting food from elsewhere. It will also ensure they are easier to find in the morning
  • Please give your dog plenty of opportunity to empty their bladder and bowels by allowing a short walk in the morning of your appointment (unless you pet is on strict cage rest)
  • If you have kept a diary of your pet’s behaviour (for example seizure records or videos) please bring this with you to your appointment, along with any medication you pet is currently receiving (preventative flea and worm products are not necessary)
  • If you notice any signs of illness or injury prior to your appointment please inform us either before you arrive or when you see one of our team

What happens to my pet once they are admitted?

The choice of anaesthetic will be decided and chosen by one of our veterinary surgeons once they have given your pet a full clinical examination and decided what procedures are required to be undertaken

A pre-anaesthetic medication (‘pre-med’) will normally then be injected, which allows your pet to relax in the veterinary environment.

Once you pet is relaxed, we will place an intravenous catheter into either a front or back leg vein. This gives us easy access to a vein to provide medications to your pet easily and effectively.

This catheter will also allow us to begin the anaesthetic by injecting anaesthetic drugs into your pet’s vein, and then for us to place a tube down your pet’s trachea (windpipe), so then remainder of the anaesthetic can be delivered by gas.  

How is my pet kept safe under general anaesthesia?

Once anaesthetised your pet is connected to an anaesthetic machine. This machine delivers a mixture of anaesthetic gases and oxygen, and is adjusted to allow your pet to be kept asleep during procedures. Each machine can have different types of circuits attached depending on your pet’s individual requirements

Whilst under general anaesthesia you pet will be closely monitored by a member of our qualified staff and in addition specialised monitoring equipment is used to closely observe your pet’s progress. The type of equipment used will depend on the procedure being carried out and the clinical history of the individual patient.

We can measure using our monitoring equipment:

  • Heart rate and rhythm (electrocardiogram)
  • Pulse rate and quality
  • Respiratory rate and rhythm
  • Body temperature
  • Blood Pressure
  • Oxygenation levels of the blood (pulse oximetry)
  • Carbon dioxide levels in the breath (capnography)

We also record many other readings to we can measure and altar the depth of the anaesthetic including, eye position and reflexes, gum colour (mucous membranes), jaw reflexes, which are recorded every 5 minutes on a record chart.

The information we record allows us to anticipate and problems before they actually occur. Adjustments can be given to help stabilise parameter for example, extra intravenous fluid therapy and additional drugs. If there is any concern regarding your pet’s breathing, we can connect them to a machine which can breathe for them (ventilator).

Whilst your pet in under general anaesthesia, the body loses the ability to maintain body temperature. We constantly monitor this temperature and take steps to help reduce the amount of heat your pet is losing.

We use a range of equipment to help keep patients warm. Our theatres are equipped with heated beds and warmers, we can wrap patients in foil and bubble wrap, use heated bean bags to name just a few, to enable your pet’s temperature to remain stable and provide a quicker recovery from general anaesthesia.

Once the procedure is finished we switch the anaesthetic gas off, and allow your pet to recover. If your pet has been under anaesthetic for a long period of time or is older, recovery can be slower, but all patients are constantly monitored until they are fully awake.

Our hospital is operational 24 hours a day with qualified veterinary surgeons, qualified nurses and highly skilled care assistants to ensure your pet is cared for to the highest standards. We welcome calls into the hospital to give you clinical updates on your pet, and if you pet needs to stay with us, appointments for visits can be organised.

Will my pet feel pain?

Patients that are receiving a general anaesthetic will have a painkiller incorporated into their premedication, and subsequent pain relief may be given whilst your pet is under anaesthesia. Continuing pain relief will be decided by our veterinary surgeons dependent on each patient’s individual requirement.

What can I expect when my pet comes home?

If your pet is discharged on the same day of the procedure, they may be a little sleepy. The drugs we administer may still have some effect in the system. Your pet will be discharged by one of our veterinary nurses who will advise you to keep your cat indoors) and for dogs to be only walked in the garden on a lead, this is normally for 24-48 hours (or in some cases longer as some procedures carry some very specific discharge instructions).

Please follow the discharge form provided to ensure medication are given as directed and any specific care that is required.

Offer you pet some light bland food for the first 24 hours (boiled chicken or fish and rice) and water. Some conditions will have specific feeding instructions which will detailed to you on discharge, and similarly if your pet has special dietary requirements you will be advised also.

Keep your pet in a warm comfortable place when they return home, and try and reduce over exertion e.g. playing with other animals or games. Please observe for any abnormalities including pain, sickness, diarrhoea, lethargy and contact your own vets or ourselves if worried at all.

Please contact us at any time if you are at all concerned.

Giving your pet medication

We understand that giving medications to your pet can be sometimes a difficult time. The medication prescribed to your pet need to be administered as advised by the veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse.

We will be happy to demonstrate giving medications to you, please do not hesitate to ask. 

It can be helpful to have two people involved with administering medications, one to hold and one to give. Please be careful to not get bitten or scratched. Some people find wrapping cats within a towel advantageous.

Once administered, please praise your pet ready for next time.

Drug labels

Every medication dispensed will have a label on it which we ask you to read carefully and follow.
Drug labels contain you surname and address, your pet’s name, the medication name, how much medication should be given to your pet and how often. There may also be extra information to specific for the drug.
Unless you are advised, please continue the drug to complete the course. Only stop if you are instructed to do so. This is especially important for drugs such as antibiotics as stopping early can lead to the disease reoccurring and antibiotic resistance.

If you are concerned at any time, please call us.

Storage of medications

  • Please store all medication out of the reach of children and animals.
  • Store medications away from direct sunlight.

Please ensure that the medications are stored at room temperature, but some may be required to be refrigerated. If a drug has a specific storage requirement, this will be on the label or you will be advised.

Handling medications

After handling medications, please ensure you wash your hands thoroughly.

Some medications should not be handled by pregnant women. If you are concerned please check with the veterinary surgeon or veterinary nurse. Please wear gloves or do not handle at all.

Please make us aware if you are allergic to any medications yourself e.g. penicillin. Some of the drugs we can use are fairly similar. 

Timing of medications for your pet

We advise you try and give medications the same time every day.

  • Twice daily: give roughly 12 hours apart
  • Three times daily: give roughly 8 hours apart
  • Four times daily: give roughly 6 hours apart

Repeat prescriptions

If your pet is on a long term medication, they will require regular check-ups and re-examinations to allow repeat prescriptions to be issues. This is normally every 6 months, but with some medications, re-examinations are more regularly. This may mean that repeat bloods may need to be taken and examined, or to adjust dosages according to weight changes, as well as giving your pet a thorough examination to ensure the drug prescribed is working effectively. 

Please be aware that we do not stock all drugs routinely, and we ask for 24 hours’ notice for all repeat prescriptions, and some medications are not available on repeat prescriptions and will require a re-examination.
If you are planning a trip away, please make sure you have adequate medication for your pet in advance.

Side effects

If you are at all concerned that your pet maybe suffering from any side effects from the medication you have been prescribed, please contact us immediately. Side effects can be numerous, so please ring to check if you are at all concerned.

Administering oral medications (by mouth)

Tablets

The easiest way to give your pet tablets is to disguise them cunningly in food for them to eat. But this can depend on the type of medication. We will advise you if you are able to give the medication with food.
Some tablets can be broken up or crushed into the food, but occasionally this makes the medication taste worse, or decrease their effectiveness. It also may not be safe for you to handle the tablets in their crushed form.

You can hide the medication in food (which is normally effective with dogs) or in a tasty treat. Care must be required if your pet has a sensitive stomach which is sensitive to other types of food. If your dog’s stomach is not sensitive, using treats like small amounts of cream cheese, sausage, pate, chicken or ham may help. Cats may like tuna or prawns.

Give a small treat without the tablet first, then give a treat with the tablet, followed by a treat again without a tablet.

If your pet will not take tablets in food, they may need to be administered directly. 

Gently tip your pet’s head backwards, so they are looking up at the ceiling. This then allows you to pull the lower jaw down easier and place the tablet at the back of the mouth. Close the mouth, and stroke the throat to try and encourage a swallow.

Pill poppers are available to help with placing the tablet to the back of the mouth without getting bitten, and may be of help with cats. Ask one of our reception or nursing staff to show you how they may help.

Some medications can be crushed and dissolved in water, which then can be syringed into your pet’s mouth. Please check first. 

There may also be some alternatives to tablets. If you are concerned about being able to administer tablets, please let us know. 

Liquid medications

You can disguise liquids in foods, just like tablets. However, sometimes these medications can be squirted straight into the mouth. To do this, gently hold your pet’s mouth closed and insert the syringe into the corner of their mouth between the lips and teeth. Squirt the medication gently across the tongue. Do not squirt the liquid to the back of the throat, as it may go down the airway. Continue to keep the mouth closed and stroke the throat area to encourage swallowing.

Administering ear treatments

Cleaning ears

Hold the ear flap up to allow exposure of the external ear canal. Place the nozzle of the bottle carefully into the external ear canal and squeeze the bottle. Gently rub at the base of the ear, which encourages the solution to pass down the ear canal. Pets will often shake their heads once the solution is applied. Wipe out any wax with moist cotton wall, but never use cotton buds down the ear. To distract pets from shaking their heads, you can feed them directly after or take them for a walk. 

Some of the ear treatments do contain steroids, so pregnant women should not come in contact with them. When administering them, all should wear gloves.

If your pet’s ears seem very painful after applying cleaner or medications, then please contact us.

Administering eye treatments

Please refer to separate information sheet.

Creams and ointments

Please apply these in the areas which the label directs you or where the veterinary surgeon has demonstrated only. 

Some of the medications contain steroids, so should not be handled by pregnant women, and all should wear gloves when creams or ointments are being applied. After applying the medication, try feeding, playing or walking your pet to distract them from licking the area. Sometimes a buster collar is required.

Is my pet in pain?

Pain is very difficult to recognise in our pets as they cannot tell us easily how they are feeling.

Dogs

Dogs tend to show behavioural changes when they are in pain and discomfort. If your pet has an obvious surgical wound it is easier to ascertain if they are in pain, but otherwise we have to train ourselves to observe pets for pain.

The following are behavioural changes which you dog may exhibit, but the list is not exhaustive. All dogs will experience pain very differently and all individuals will respond to pain in differently. Certain breed of dogs can be more sensitive to pain stimulation too.

  • Unusually inactive, unresponsive or quieter than normal
  • Restlessness
  • Panting excessively
  • Not sleeping or changes in sleep patterns
  • Not responding to familiar people
  • Attention seeking
  • Howling, whinging, yelping
  • Licking or chewing an area
  • Unusually aggressive or being submissive
  • Not able to eat
  • Lameness
  • Looking uncomfortable in the abdomen e.g. hunching the back
  • Will not climb steps or stairs, or reluctance to jump
  • Reluctance to get up or to lie down
  • Reacts badly when you try to lift or carry

Cats

Cats are very different to dogs, as they tend to hide their pain, which makes observing them for signs of pain more difficult. Changes in behaviour are normally an indicator of pain.

  • Quieter than normal, reduced activity
  • Biting and scratching (when you cat is normally friendly)
  • Avoiding being handled and aggressiveness
  • Attacking and biting a part of the body
  • Over grooming their coat, or under-grooming cause poor coat condition
  • Howling or meowing more than usual
  • Inappropriate elimination (going to the toilet in the house not in the litter tray)
  • Changes in the sleeping pattern
  • Lameness
  • Not happy to jump or climb when previously happy to do it
  • Hiding away

I think my pet is in pain, what should I do?

I you think your pet may be in pain, please contact your veterinary surgeon for advice. The veterinary surgeon may ask you some questions about your pet’s behaviour, but we are always on the end of the phone if you need some help and advice.

Please contact us at any time if you are at all concerned.

MRI

What happens when patients have an MRI scan?

The pet will be admitted to the scanning centre prior to the scan so that a physical examination can be carried out along with blood tests where necessary. In order to keep still for the duration of the scan (usually about 30-45 minutes) the pet will require a general anaesthetic. Once anaesthetised the patient will be placed gently in the scanner and positioned in the optimum way to achieve the best images possible. Our imaging team will then carry out a number of scans, in various planes, to give us all the information we need for a speedy diagnosis.

Usually, after a few hours the pet will have recovered sufficiently to go home provided no further treatment or investigations are required. There are no known side effects and the procedure is completely harmless.

Radioactive Iodine Therapy

What is Involved? 

A single dose of radioactive iodine (I131) is given by subcutaneous injection. The iodine is concentrated in the thyroid gland where it emits beta-radiation, killing the surrounding hyperfunctioning cells. Parathyroid gland function is unaffected. The iodine that is not concentrated in the thyroid gland is very rapidly eliminated in the urine, saliva and sweat in the first couple of days following the injection. The remainder is very slowly eliminated due to thyroid hormone turnover (with the I131 incorporated into the hormone) and due to decay of the isotope (the half-life of I131 is eight days). Cats must stay with us in an isolation facility for at least 10 days after the injection until most of the radioactivity has been eliminated. A nurse feeds the cats and cleans their cages every morning. Lighting and daytime stimulation such as radio or cat television is altered throughout the day.

What does it cost? 

The current cost of treatment is £1425.00 inc. VAT. This cost is essentially a ‘package deal’ covering pre-treatment investigations, the treatment itself and hospitalisation for 10 days. This does not include the cost of treatment for any concurrent medical problems or any unexpected diagnostic tests.

How successful is it?

A single radioactive iodine injection is successful in about 95% of cats treated.

How quickly will you know if it has worked?

The thyroid hormone concentration is generally within normal limits one month after the radioactive iodine injection. In some cases it can take up to six months for the thyroid hormone concentration to return to normal following treatment.

What needs to be done before the appointment? 

1. Cats need to be confirmed as hyperthyroid on the basis of a total thyroxine (tT4) concentration above the laboratory reference range. We will treat cats with high - normal total Thyroxine (tT4) measurements where hyperthyroidism has been confirmed by free T4 assuming compatible clinical signs are present. If a case is accepted for referral on the basis of a free T4 measurement, we will require repeat free T4 (by equilibrium dialysis) and total T4 measurements approximately two weeks prior to the referral appointment – we will advise you of this accordingly.

2. Assessment of renal function. Renal function is profoundly influenced by thyroid status – excessive thyroid hormone concentration leads to increased cardiac output resulting in an increase in glomerular filtration rate and consequently a decrease in circulating creatinine concentration. Normalisation of total T4 concentration induces a decline in GFR and can therefore unmask underlying renal abnormalities. Studies show that a decrease in GFR will occur within 4 weeks of radioactive iodine treatment with little decline after this point, but for a proportion of cats this can result in the development of azotaemia (creatinine greater than 140μmol/L) which can take up to six months to manifest.

For newly diagnosed cats that are non-azotaemic (creatinine less than 140μmol/L) and have a urine specific gravity of greater than 1.040 the magnitude of this decrease in GFR has been shown to be no more than one IRIS stage, which at worst could result in the unmasking of IRIS stage II renal disease. As the development of mild renal disease is not associated with a decreased survival time unless associated with hypothyroidism, we no longer require a period of stabilisation as a therapeutic trial to assess the effect of treatment on renal function. If there is a waiting list for treatment we will advise you to start either medication or Hills y/d diet: in this case blood tests will be required 4-6 weeks prior to the appointment with us.

Cats that are azotaemic at diagnosis or cats whose owners feel that any development of azotaemia should be avoided where possible do still benefit from a therapeutic trial of anti-thyroid medication to assess the renal response to reversible treatment before radioactive iodine treatment is considered.

Euthyroid cats on medication or y/d diet that are non-azotaemic or have stable IRIS stage II renal disease (creatinine less than 250μmol/L) are suitable candidates for radioactive iodine treatment.

If the reason for referral for radioactive iodine treatment is that the cat cannot tolerate anti thyroid medication or the owner is not able to medicate the cat, radioactive iodine treatment is still possible assuming the cat is non-azotaemic prior to referral.

In order to assess renal function we require testing of urine specific gravity and serum urea, creatinine and phosphate. If there is a long delay between the blood tests to assess renal function and the appointment with us, further blood tests should be performed 4-6 weeks prior to the appointment to ensure nothing significant has changed.

3. Cats need to be vaccinated for flu and enteritis within the last year.

How long must the cat remain in isolation? 

All cats treated with radioactive iodine will stay for a minimum of 10 days following the injection. They can then be discharged assuming a number of conditions at home can be met for a further 18 days, after which no further precautions are required. These conditions are that:

  • The cat will be confined indoors, without access to occupied bedrooms and will use a litter-box.
  • The owners can restrict the time spent cuddling the cat or holding the cat on their lap.
  • The owners are able to ensure that any children in the household will remain at a safe distance from the cat and its litter-box.
  • There is no-one in the house that is pregnant, or trying to become pregnant.
  • There is a secure outside storage area (garage, shed) where soiled litter can be stored for one month before being put out for collection. If this is not possible, special litter can be purchased that can be flushed down the toilet, but the household plumbing must be in good working order to do this.

If cats are discharged after 10 days, their owners will have to sign a document stating that these conditions will be met. If these conditions cannot be met at home, cats may board with us for the additional 18 days at a cost of £30.58 per day. The level of radioactivity emanating from the cats 10 days after treatment is relatively low, but this is considerably higher than background and will continue to be so for several weeks. The risks associated with this radiation level are small provided that sensible precautions are taken.

Which cats aren't suitable for treatment? 

1. Thyroid carcinoma. Although thyroid carcinoma can be treated with radioactive iodine, the doses of radioactivity required are greater than those that we have authorisation to hold, so we are unable currently to offer treatment to these cats. There is increasing evidence that hyperthyroidism is a spectrum of disease and that transformation to carcinoma may occur over time: therefore cats that have been treated medically for a long time and in whom increasing doses of anti-thyroid medication are required to maintain euthyroidism may be at risk of carcinoma development.

2. Naughty cats! We appreciate that hyperthyroid cats can be feisty and it is not a particular problem if, for example, a cat is difficult to collect blood samples from. The cats that we cannot accept for treatment are ones that will not allow their cages to be cleaned without attacking the Nurses, which increases the risk of contaminating them with radioactive urine.

3. Cats with significant concurrent medical problems. If cats become ill after they are injected, we cannot attend to them without being exposed to high levels of radioactivity. Therefore we cannot take cats that are known to have other serious concurrent problems. Medications can be put in the cat’s food, but the cats cannot be given tablets directly.

4. Unsuitable owners! Some cats would be fine to treat with radioactive iodine, but their owners will not be parted from them for required time. We are unable to compromise on the amount of time that we keep the cats here in the Hospital. It is not possible for owners to visit while their cats are with us.

Follow-up Appoinments

Cats will require blood tests to assess their kidney function and thyroid levels four weeks, ten weeks and six months after treatment. Blood should be collected for a total T4 and biochemistry and urine for specific gravity and sediment examination to check for urinary tract infections. The cost of these tests is not included in the treatment.

For more info or advice, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01453 843295 or 01454 521000 (option 2) or email iodine@rowevetgroup.com.

Sedation

Why does my pet need a sedation?

You pet may require a sedation to allow them to relax so they cannot feel a moderate level of discomfort. We use sedation for some diagnostic procedures that are not very painful but would be uncomfortable if you pet was conscious.

What is a sedation?

The sedation will allow your pet to undergo investigation providing them with a ‘sleepy state’ which enables relaxation. They will be unlikely to remember what has happened under the sedation. There is always an opportunity to convert a sedation to a general anaesthetic if this is indicated.

My pet is having a sedation, what do I need to do?

  • You will be instructed by our team to fast your pet overnight. The length of time of the starve will be determined by the procedure you pet is being referred for and you will be advised when booking your referral appointment
  • Please allow you pet access to water throughout the fasting period
  • Please keep cats indoors before the procedure to prevent them from getting food from elsewhere. It will also ensure they are easier to find in the morning
  • Please give your dog plenty of opportunity to empty their bladder and bowels by allowing a short walk in the morning of your appointment (unless you pet is on strict cage rest)
  • If you have kept a diary of your pet’s behaviour (for example seizure records or videos) please bring this with you to your appointment, along with any medication you pet is currently receiving (preventative flea and worm products are not necessary)
  • If you notice any signs of illness or injury prior to your appointment please inform us either before you arrive or when you see one of our team

What happens to my pet once they are admitted?

The choice of sedation will be decided and chosen by one of our veterinary surgeons once they have given your pet a full clinical examination and decided what procedures are required to be undertaken

Once you pet is relaxed, we will place an intravenous catheter into either a front or back leg vein. This gives us easy access to a vein to provide medications to your pet easily and effectively.

How is my pet kept safe under sedation?

Once under a sedation your pet is connected to an anaesthetic machine to provide oxygen. Each machine can have different types of circuits attached depending on your pet’s individual requirements

Whilst under sedation you pet will be closely monitored by a member of our qualified staff and in addition specialised monitoring equipment is used to closely observe your pet’s progress. The type of equipment used will depend on the procedure being carried out and the clinical history of the individual patient.

We record information every 5 minutes to monitor depth of the sedation and this allows us to anticipate and problems before they actually occur. Adjustments can be given to help stabilise parameter for example, extra intravenous fluid therapy and additional drugs. If there is any concern regarding your pet’s breathing, we can convert them to a general anaesthetic.

Whilst your pet in under sedation, the body loses the ability to maintain body temperature. We constantly monitor this temperature and take steps to help reduce the amount of heat your pet is losing.

We use a range of equipment to help keep patients warm. Our theatres are equipped with heated beds and warmers, we can wrap patients in foil and bubble wrap, use heated bean bags to name just a few, to enable your pet’s temperature to remain stable and provide a quicker recovery from general anaesthesia.

Once the procedure is finished we will reverse the sedation, and allow your pet to recover. If your pet has been under sedation for a long period of time or is older, recovery can be slower, but all patients are constantly monitored until they are fully awake.

Our hospital is operational 24 hours a day with qualified veterinary surgeons, qualified nurses and highly skilled care assistants to ensure your pet is cared for to the highest standards. We welcome calls into the hospital to give you clinical updates on your pet, and if you pet needs to stay with us, appointments for visits can be organised.

Will my pet feel pain?

Patients that are receiving a sedation will have a painkiller incorporated into their drug plan, and subsequent pain relief may be given whilst your pet is under sedartion. Continuing pain relief will be decided by our veterinary surgeons dependent on each patient’s individual requirement.

What can I expect when my pet comes home?

If your pet is discharged on the same day of the procedure, they may be a little sleepy. The drugs we administer may still have some effect in the system. You pet will be discharged by one of our veterinary nurses who will advise you to keep your cat indoors) and for dogs to be only walked in the garden on a lead, this is normally for 24-48 hours (or in some cases longer as some procedures carry some very specific discharge instructions).

Please follow the discharge form provided to ensure medication are given as directed and any specific care that is required.

Offer you pet some light bland food for the first 24 hours (boiled chicken or fish and rice) and water. Some conditions will have specific feeding instructions which will detailed to you on discharge, and similarly if your pet has special dietary requirements you will be advised also.

Keep your pet in a warm comfortable place when they return home, and try and reduce over exertion e.g. playing with other animals or games. Please observe for any abnormalities including pain, sickness, diarrhoea, lethargy and contact your own vets or ourselves if worried at all.

Please contact us at any time if you are at all concerned.

Ultrasound Scanning

What is ultrasound scanning?

Ultrasound scanning is a diagnostic tool which is used to look at parts of the body. Unlike radiographs, ultrasound scanning uses sound waves rather than radiation to produce a picture of the area we are interested in.

The patient is laid on a table and gently restrained. The area of concern is clipped of hair, and ultrasound gel applied. A probe is then placed against the skin which transmits a wave, and then receives a wave back. The computer then builds a picture using the waves of the area we are looking at.

Does my pet have to be clipped?

Ultrasound waves do not pass through air so the hair does need to be clipped so the probe can be in direct contact with your pet’s skin allowing a diagnostic picture to be seen. The gel used is applied to your pet and the probe to ensure there is good contact and to further increase picture quality.

Why does my pet need an ultrasound scan?

Ultrasound scans provides outstanding detail of soft tissues, and allows examination of areas which cannot be easily seen on radiographs. We can even ultrasound the eye! Radiographs cannot distinguish between the inside and outside of organs which are filled with fluid, such as the bladder.

The scan shows us a moving (or real-time) image of what we are investigating, which is particularly useful if we are looking at the heart. We can also use the images to allow us to take biopsies via a needle with the ultrasound guidance. Sometimes your pet may require a sedation to allow sampling.

Please contact us at any time if you are at all concerned.

What happens once you've been referred to us?

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For more advice or info, please do not hesitate to contact our Bradley Stoke Hospital on 01454 521000 or eyes@rowevetgroup.com.

Practice information

Bradley Stoke Hospital

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  • Mon
    24hr, Appointment: 8:00am - 8:00pm
  • Tue
    24hr, Appointment: 8:00am - 8:00pm
  • Wed
    24hr, Appointment: 8:00am - 8:00pm
  • Thu
    24hr, Appointment: 8:00am - 8:00pm
  • Fri
    24hr, Appointment: 8:00am - 8:00pm
  • Sat
    24hr, Appointment: 8:00am - 5:00pm
  • Sun
    24hr, Appointment: Emergencies only

Emergency Details

Please call:

01454 521000
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Find us here:

The Veterinary Hospital, Ferndene, Bradley Stoke, Bristol, BS32 9DT
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Please call this number for emergencies:

01454 521000

Wotton-Under-Edge

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  • Mon
    9:00am - 10:30am; 2:00pm - 3:00pm; 4:00pm - 6:30pm
  • Tue
    9:00am - 10:30am; 2:00pm - 3:00pm; 4:00pm - 6:30pm
  • Wed
    9:00am - 10:30am; 2:00pm - 3:00pm; 4:00pm - 6:30pm
  • Thu
    9:00am - 10:30am; 2:00pm - 3:00pm; 4:00pm - 6:30pm
  • Fri
    9:00am - 10:30am; 2:00pm - 3:00pm; 4:00pm - 6:30pm
  • Sat
    9:00am - 12:30pm
  • Sun
    Emergencies Only

Emergency Details

Please call:

01454 521000
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Find us here:

Rowe Veterinary MRI Centre, Bradley Green, Wotton Under Edge, Gloucestershire, GL12 7PP
get directions with Google Maps
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Please call this number for emergencies:

01454 521000