What we offer
Vet Practice Services
Nobody likes the thought of their pet being injured or seriously ill, but if the unexpected should happen we can provide the very best in modern surgical and medical techniques. We have outlined some of the services our practice can offer.
Every appointment made for your pet is 15 minutes long and comprises a full clinical examination including heart rate, respiration rate, temperature, assessment of eyes, ears, teeth and general body condition. This is why, when you bring in your pet for a specific problem we always start our examination at the ‘head end’. Our vets don’t ignore what the problem is, but they are getting information from your pet in a way only your pet can tell us. Our patients can’t speak to us, so we have to look at everything to be sure we don’t miss anything.
Our nursing team are always on hand, allowing us to take blood samples and perform minor procedures, reducing the time to get results. We perform many blood tests, urine samples and skin/ear tests on the same day facilitating more rapid treatment for your pet.
The consulting rooms are well organised and prepared with all the equipment needed for the vast majority of consultations. Everything your vet requires is to hand to ensure that your pet receives the very best care while here with us.
If your pet has been prescribed medication a veterinary surgeon will need to examine your pet to evaluate their condition. This will need to be every 3 to 6 months, or even more frequently, depending on the severity of their condition, as required in Law under The Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.
Blood Pressure Monitoring
It is well recognised that high blood pressure is frequently associated with other medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, heart disease and kidney disease. Dogs and Cats with high blood pressure may show a variety of symptoms, or indeed, none at all, but are very prone to sudden onset blindness as a result of bleeding inside the eye or retinal detachment.
We monitor blood pressure in animals in a similar way to that in humans. We use a small cuff which is inflated to occlude the blood flow to the lower limb and then listen to the blood vessels using a doppler unit to determine the blood pressure. Most animals are quite amenable to this, all we need is a little peace and quiet and plenty of time and patience.
High blood pressure can be treated successfully with oral medication, but needs regular monitoring, as do people with high blood pressure.
Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats – an estimated 80% of dogs and cats over the age of 3 have some degree of dental disease. It is caused by a combination of food debris, salivary protein, cells from the inside of the mouth and bacteria, which together cover the teeth and gums with a white film, known as plaque. The bacteria eventually works their way between the teeth and gums, dissolving the supporting structures (gums and bone and periodontal ligament) which hold the teeth in place.
The gums become inflamed (Gingivitis), and without proper treatment, the teeth can eventually be lost. The best way to prevent these gum problems is to brush your pet’s teeth, every day. Besides promoting a healthy set of teeth and gums, the smell of your pet’s breath will also be greatly improved. Feeding your pet dry food, and occasional rawhide chews for dogs can help with teeth cleaning, although neither method is as effective as regular brushing, otherwise your dentist would be advising the same for you!
The bacteria from gum disease can easily spread to other vital parts of your pet’s body, so it’s not just the teeth that are involved here – it’s your pet’s overall health. In both dogs and humans, a clear link has been established between gum disease, heart disease and strokes, so it’s vital that your pet (and you) pay attention to preventing gum disease before it happens. Periodontal disease is also painful and often goes unnoticed.
Unlike with human dentistry, our patients have to be anesthetised to perform a dental descale and polish. Many of our patients who come in for dentistry are elderly so we frequently offer a pre-anaesthetic blood test to check kidney and liver function. These blood tests serve two purposes, the kidneys often seem to be affected by infection spreading from the mouth, and they are the organs the body uses to excrete the anaesthetic, so it is important they are in good working order.
An E.C.G (electrocardiogram) is a test which measures the electrical activity of the heart.
Electrical impulses cause the heart to beat and these can be measured by placing electrodes on the animal’s skin. The ECG machine converts the electrical pulses and displays them on a print out which can be analysed to allow the vet to know whether the heart is beating correctly. The ECG gives the vet information about the heart which can then be used to identify heart disease, and so we can prescribe an appropriate course of medication.
We also use our multi-parameter monitors (With E.C.G) to monitor every anaesthetic patient, to ensure the procedure is as safe as it possibly can be.
An endoscope is a long, thin flexible tube which contains a light source and camera using fibre optic technology.
Endoscopy is a safe, non-invasive procedure which allows us to examine your pet’s nasal passages, mouth, throat, upper airway, oesophagus, stomach and small intestine. We are also able to examine the colon via the anus and rectum.
We are able to take samples of tissue and fluid from all the areas mentioned above for analysis at external laboratories to enable us to diagnose a multitude of conditions without the need for invasive surgery.
We can retrieve small objects that your pet may have accidentally (or not!!) swallowed. Sometimes the objects are too big for us to remove this way, but using the endoscope we are able to see exactly where they are so the time it takes us to find them in theatre is greatly reduced, making the anaesthetic time shorter and therefore safer for your pet.
It is a very difficult time for any of us when our pets need a hospital stay. We understand this and we treat your pet as we treat our own while they are here with us. Your pet receives one to one care from our nurses and we have a wide variety of foodstuffs for our residents who are particularly fussy over what they will eat!
Our wards are split into to dog, cat and isolation wards, with a variety of kennel sizes. Allowing the space for every size of dog from a Chihuahua to a Great Dane.
Our cattery also has varied sized kennels to ensure that we are able to put our longer term patients into a larger space to give them room to move around, if their condition allows. The isolation ward is used for animals who are potentially infectious to other animals or humans, and we have a variety of size kennels to be sure we are able to cater for any size of animal.
Our kennels are made from an insulated material to ensure that your pet is warm and comfortable during their stay with us. We also ensure that the kennels are lined with newspaper and ‘Vetbed’ which is absorbent, warm and comfy.
Our vets and nurses check on our inpatients several times daily, to ensure that their condition is stable and their medication is administered appropriately. The first ward round of the day starts at 8.30am and all animals receive a full check over and the vet decides what medication they will receive, and when, over the course of the day. The ward nurse then has the responsibility of checking frequently on each patient and administering the medication as prescribed by the vet.
Laser therapy or ‘photobiomodulation’ is the use of specific wavelengths of light (red or near infrared light) to create therapeutic effects.
These effects include improved healing time, pain reduction, increased blood circulation and decreased swelling.
During treatment, laser energy increases circulation, drawing oxygen, water and nutrients to the damaged area. This creates an optimal environment that reduces inflammation, swelling, muscle spasms, stiffness and pain. The infrared laser light also interacts with tissue at a cellular level. Metabolic activity increases within the cell, improving the transport of nutrients across the cell membrane; this initiates the increased production of cellular energy that leads to a cascade of beneficial effects, increasing cellular function and health.
Laser therapy can help with many conditions such as osteoarthritis, joint pain, tendinopathies, oedema and congestion, ligament sprains, muscle strains, wounds, post surgical pain, neck and back pain, hip dysplasia, burns, post orthopaedic surgery and some skin conditions.
There is no need for sedation or restraint with this treatment. There is no need for the fur on your pet to be clipped away either. The therapy is carried out in one of our consultation rooms with your pet either standing or lying down. Treatment times vary between two and eight minutes. Although improvement is often seen after the first visit, most patients require several treatments for the greatest benefits.
K laser treatment does not hurt. Occasionally our patients may feel mild, soothing warmth or a tingling sensation. Afterwards areas of pain or inflammation may be more sensitive for a brief period before pain reduction is noted. However Improvement in your pets condition can be noticed after the first treatment or not for a number of treatments. This does not mean that nothing is happening; each treatment is cumulative and results are often felt after three or four sessions.
It is really important that you see your veterinary surgeon two weeks after the end of the course of treatment so that he or she can gauge progress, measure the range of movement, assess pain and healing and plan a booster program if required. An exercise plan would also be discussed to ensure your pet does not aggravate the condition and continues to feel the benefits of the therapy.
The Laboratory is one of the most vital areas in our surgery. We are able to perform tests ranging from simple pre-operative blood screens to a full blood screen for the critically ill animal. In both cases, and everything in between, we have the facility to provide fast, accurate results which enhance the care of your pet while they are here with us.
We also have facilities for processing urine samples, which requires several stages. Not only do we check the chemical composition of the urine to check for kidney or liver problems, we are also able to check the concentration and examine the cellular content under the microscope to check for urine crystals or blood. Looking at the urine under the microscope requires skill and our nurses are well trained and very well practiced.
Our microscope is not only used for checking urine samples, but we also examine ear smears taken in the consult rooms, we are able to diagnose many species of mite which may be causing your pet skin problems and we are able to examine your pet’s faeces to check for worm eggs or other more complicated problems.
Our nurses are highly trained in all the techniques used in our lab, but there are times when our blood and urine testing facilities are not sufficient to give us all the information our vets require. In this case, we package your pet’s samples and post them off to external laboratories to run additional tests for us. We have to wait a little longer for your results when we have to use the external labs, as we are at the mercy of the postman!
The operating theatre at Heathside is well equipped and behind closed doors. The area is kept clean, sterile and uncluttered as only sterile surgery takes place in theatre – surgery known as ‘clean’. Any surgery involving infection (such as abscesses) or dentistry takes place in an area where sterility is less important.
Our operating theatre is equipped with a human standard operating table which is kept warm during surgery, special operating theatre lights which can be pointed in any direction to aid the surgeons during surgery, and a type of electronic air filter which is attached to the anaesthetic machines which ensures that staff in theatre do not breathe in any anaesthetic gases from the patients they are working with.
Our anaesthetic machines are up to date and we only use the most modern anaesthetics to ensure your pet’s anaesthetic is as safe as it possibly can be.
Our operating theatre has just recently been refurbished to allow extra space for our ever-expanding equipment and instruments.
We keep a well stocked pharmacy on site at the surgery, to enable us to prescribe medications in accordance with the cascade system. The cascade is a legal obligation placed on veterinary surgeons which dictates how to prescribe medication for your pet. Wherever available, vets must use medications specifically authorised for the correct species of animal and the specific condition diagnosed.
However, if the drug is unavailable for whatever reason, or if no such drug exists, or if the animal has an adverse reaction to the drug, then vets are allowed to use other medications normally prescribed for people.
All prescription medications can only be provided after they have been authorised by a veterinary surgeon. As it is usually nurses or receptionists taking requests for repeat medication over the telephone, we politely request 24 hours notice in order for the vet to check the patient records and to authorise the medication requested. The rule also applies to most products for the treatment of fleas and worms, and also many of the shampoos prescribed, even though you may not think that they are prescription only medications. A vet’s signature is also required by law on any prescription medication leaving the building, as it is necessary for the vet to check what has been put into the box, pot or bag.
Repeat prescriptions are generally provided on a monthly basis, but on occasion we are able to provide medication for up to 3 months. We are obliged by law to examine our patients who are requesting repeat medications at least once every 6 months to continue to provide most prescriptions , but if you have a pet with a heart condition or other condition prone to rapid changes, or, who in our clinical judgement, would benefit from more frequent check ups, we may ask you to return every 3 months.
The digital radiography suite at Heathside is a fundamental diagnostic tool which our vets and nurses use every day to aid diagnosis of a multitude of problems ranging from broken bones to soft tissue tumours.
Our X-ray machine is a digital fixed machine similar to those seen in a human hospital. It is a powerful machine which allows our vets to take excellent radiographs of diagnostic quality to find out what is wrong with your pet quickly, and start treatment straight away. Our X-rays are of a high enough quality that we are also able to send them away to referral practices for second opinions if our vets feel that this would be of value to the patient.
The floating-top table we place the animals on for their X-rays is movable in all directions to avoid having to move the anaesthetised patient more than necessary.
We also have a digital dental X-ray and developing unit giving us immediate high-quality pictures.
Occasionally, we have to take X-rays of an animal who it would be unsafe to anaesthetise due to their condition, but normally, we would anaesthetise all our patients having X-rays to ensure that we are able to take excellent quality pictures quickly and safely. X-rays can be dangerous for both pets and staff, so the fewer we have to take the better, and having our patients asleep makes sure that they will not move at a crucial time!
Heathside Veterinary Surgery is an extremely well equipped building for a first opinion practice, meaning that, despite the fact that we are ’general practitioners’, the vast majority of cases we see can be dealt with entirely on site. We do not pretend to be experts in every field, and so will not hesitate to seek advice from or refer individual cases on to such experts if we feel that a patient can be more expertly treated elsewhere.
We refer patients for expert opinions for many reasons, from orthopaedic injuries (complicated breaks in bone for example), cancer therapy and behaviour counselling. Referral practices are experts in their field and charge appropriately, so getting your pet insured is the best way of giving yourself peace of mind that cost will not be a limiting factor in your pet’s treatment.
The ultrasound machines we have at Heathside are of human standard, enabling us to carry out detailed examination of the inside of individual internal organs such as the heart, liver, kidney or bladder, as well as many other internal structures. These would otherwise have to be examined by looking inside the body involving an invasive operation. Like with human ultrasound, we are also able to carry out pregnancy diagnosis in animals. Heathside also has a dedicated specialist cardiac ultrasound for our cardiac work.
Although it is possible to see organs on an x-ray, the ultrasound gives us a clearer picture of the individual organ, and has the added advantage that it is painless and safe to both patient and operator. Ultrasound can be used in conscious patients, so we don’t usually have to sedate or anaesthetise your pet to carry out the procedure.
In an ultrasound machine, sound waves are created by special crystals in the probe (the bit which touches the patient). When the probe is applied to the patient’s skin the sound waves pass through the soft tissues and bounce back from the internal organs. They are received by the probe which converts them into a picture we are able to see on the screen. The image is made up of millions of tiny dots which vary in brightness depending on the density of the tissue they have bounced back from.
To get a clear picture, we have to clip an area of fur from your pet so that the probe can make good contact with the skin. A special gel is then applied to the skin which improves the picture quality even further.
Here at Heathside, we are increasingly aware of the popularity of a group of dogs known as Brachycephalics (short-snouted dogs). Their friendly personalities, quirky nature and suitability to young family households have made them some of the most popular breeds in the UK, and Hampshire is no exception. Unfortunately, we are all also increasingly aware of some of their health short fallings, which despite their can-do-nature, can cause them problems, especially when exercising or in the summer.
There are a significant number of Bulldog like breeds whose lives can be improved with early intervention. BOAS surgery can be carried out at the time of neutering or other procedures, especially when performed prophylactically. We would always prefer to perform a small, less risk involved surgery early than at a stage when disease is more advanced. For this reason, the practice invested in a surgical laser to allow us to offer procedures to aid this group of dogs with their breathing at a significantly reduced cost to that of referral to a specialist centre which used to be our only option. We have been performing these for over a year and a half now and have many grateful clients whose pets now breath considerably more easily (and as an added bonus whose snoring is greatly reduced).
So, if your dog’s a snorer, or a snorter, or struggles with their breathing on walks or even adopts strange positions to sleep (i.e. with a toy wedged in their mouth or their head always on a toy) get in touch today to see if we can help you. The first step is simple, a consult where one of our vets will do a full physical examination of your pet and also perform a quick and easy exercise stress test that only take 3 minutes. This information, along with the pet’s history and conformation, can help us direct you in whether surgery would be a good option for your pet.
For further information, please refer to our BOAS brochure that provides additional details on BOAS disease and the procedures performed at Heathside Vets.
Laparoscopic (Keyhole) Surgery
Just as keyhole surgery has advantages in humans, the same opportunity now exists for our pets. Keyhole is minimally invasive surgery involving passing a camera and specialist instruments through tiny incisions in the body wall. There are a number of advantages compared to a traditional bitch spay.
Advantages of Keyhole Surgery
- Less pain after surgery
- Smaller incisions
- Faster recovery
- Faster healing time
- Fewer post-operative complications
- Clearer view and magnification for the surgeon
The abdomen is clipped and prepared aseptically as for a traditional spay.
The operation is performed through three small incisions, each 0.5–1.2 cm (compared to 6 to 15 cm for traditional bitch spays.
The camera (laparoscope) is placed through one incision and slender instruments through the others. The surgeon can then visualise the ovaries on the screen and remove them.
Only the ovaries are removed (ovariectomy), it has been shown that this prevents disease of the uterus in the same way as a traditional ovariohysterectomy (when the uterus is removed).
Cautery is used to stop blood flow to the ovary and scissors can then cut the ligament attaching the ovary to the body (avoiding the painful stretching of this ligament required in a traditional spay).
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does the operation take?
Time under anaesthesia may vary slightly in each case, it is usually around one hour. Patients recover very quickly and go home the same day.
Does my pet require pain relief at home?
Not usually, another advantage of this procedure is that the wounds are so small and the procedure so minimally invasive, that a 24-hour injection of pain relief on the day of the surgery is typically sufficient.
Are there any limitations to consider?
Although laparoscopic spays are possible in dogs as small as 1.5kg we routinely recommend keyhole spays in any dog over 5 kg.
Note: On very rare occasions, difficulties encountered during a keyhole procedure may necessitate conversion to a more traditional surgery.
At Heathside we have a passion for treating all types of disease that can affect your pets’ mobility. We appreciate as pets get older we get a variety of conditions that can impact on their, and your quality of life and may be painful.
Lameness & Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis remains, as in humans, the number one factor affecting the quality of life in our pets in the UK.We have taken a special interest in lameness and are thrilled to be able to offer a wide range of treatment options to ensure we can provide the best possible improvement in the quality of life for your pet. We have modern imaging equipment to help investigate the causes of lameness and pain, and wide ranging investigatory procedures including joint taps and even lumbar spinal fluid sampling.
In terms of treatments, regular training for all our staff and investment in modern treatment options means we can provide the best possible care for your vets. These include, Class 4-K-Laser therapy, Pentosan polysulphate (Cartophen- Vet) injections, V-Pet intra-articular (regenerative medicine) injections, steroid joint injections, hydrogel (Aquamid ) joint injections and Epidural Steroid injections for the alleviation of lower back pain.
In support of this we have close connections to local hydrotherapy centres for assistance with rehabilitation. We strongly believe in preventative medicine as well as obtaining diagnoses when there are problems to enable us to offer your pet the best care possible.
One of the most common causes of hind limb lameness is cruciate disease. Left untreated this can severely affect your pets’ mobility. Luckily there are multiple types of surgeries available to treat this condition and we are thrilled to be able to offer the most modern surgeries here at Heathside vets.
As well as the long established Lateral Suture technique, which we have performed since opening the surgery we also are able to offer the MMP or Modified Maquet Procedure in house and have been doing so for over 5 years. We therefore, are able to offer these surgeries in house, as well as having the option to refer to Specialist centres locally if required.
One of the most feared problems our pets encounter is the fractured bone, be it leg or jaw or even pelvis. Due to investment in orthopaedic equipment and training courses for our veterinary team we are often able to offer options for repair in-house with access to advise and guidance from specialist Vets and the companies designing the equipment.
We have recently invested in the recently designs String of Pearls (SOP) kit produced by a leading Veterinary orthopaedic company, Orthomed, and work closely with them to give you the best options available. We therefore, are often able to offer surgeries in house, as well as having the option to refer to Specialist centres locally if required.
A common issue in our larger breed dogs can be weak back legs and lower back pain. This can be caused by disc disease in the lower back, referred to as lumbo-sacral disease.
Due to some of our vets’ background in Referral centres we are fortunate to be able to offer Epidural injections (steroid injections into the membranes that surround the spine) that can give great relief to some of these cases. We have had a great deal of success in house with this treatment option and also have the option to refer to Specialist centres locally if required.
Luxating patella disease
A common cause of a hopping/skipping lameness in smaller dogs is a dislocating knee cap, otherwise known as Medial patella luxation. This disease is more common in certain breeds such as Jack Russel’s, spaniels and infact cats as well. Hearthside’s range of orthopaedic equipment and veterinarians who have an interest and experience in this area, enables us to offer these surgeries in house, as well as having the option to refer to Specialist centres locally if required.