Series charting a week at one of the largest veterinary practices in South Wales. Will a stray cat recover from an accident? A Welsh mountain pony's dental problem is treated.
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This time on Vets 24/7...
Will a stray cat recover from his road traffic accident?
I'm worried he's got something nasty going on with his back legs.
There's a good boy.
Vet Alex deals with a nagging dental problem.
Teeth rasping can be quite a physical job.
And old dog Lizzie needs a life-saving operation.
It could be game over for her, unfortunately.
From Swansea to Neath, and the pets that they treat.
This is a week in the life
of one of the largest veterinary practices in South Wales.
This is Vets 24/7.
For over 120 years,
St James Veterinary Group in Swansea has been responding 24/7
to animal emergencies.
Right, you. Come on then.
A stray cat has been involved in road traffic accident.
He can't move his back legs and may have spinal damage.
You do his back legs. Nice and straight as well.
Vet Becky Bradshaw is on duty to perform the X-ray.
We're looking for reasons why he's not using his back legs.
We'll take an X-ray now and we'll have a better idea.
I'm just going to X-ray the front part of his spine first,
and then we'll concentrate on his lower spine.
The area we're concerned about is the sort of middle part of his spine.
When your spine is affected from here
downwards, it affects your back legs.
There isn't an obvious fracture,
or an obvious displacement of the bony part of the spine.
If his nerves don't regain function,
then he's not viable as being a cat you know, that can carry on.
Sometimes we have to put cats to sleep that have that sort of injury.
We're going to give him another 24 hours.
It also gives him a bit more time for some owners to come forward,
which they may or may not do.
You can't feel that?
You can feel that one, can't you?
There are 17 vets at the practice
caring for all creatures, great and small.
Today, much-loved family dog Lizzie
and her worried owners, Lisa and Steve,
have come to visit partner Gareth Field.
I was reading the notes, and she's basically passing blood in her urine.
-We're worried about...
-We think there might be stones.
OK, no problem.
-She had stones before.
-They flushed her out.
Brilliant. She's quite an elderly girl, isn't she?
-She is, she's 17.
Wow. Looking good for 17, isn't she?
You can feel in the area of her bladder like a bag of stones,
or a bag of marbles, really.
I'm pretty sure she has definitely got stones in the bladder.
The operation won't be a problem -
it'll be more her age and the anaesthetic and the risks.
If you didn't want to do that, the other option is putting her to sleep,
which seems a shame just because she's... She seems...
It's the last thing we want to do.
Yes, exactly. I mean...
Vets hate giving you their own opinion of what to do.
If she was my dog, I would probably be inclined to do the operation.
Just go with it.
It's a shame to put an otherwise healthy dog to sleep
for something we can fix.
I've just found he's got an ID tag.
Next door, the nursing team have discovered a collar on the stray cat,
with a phone number and a name.
Benny. Hello, Benny.
Vet Alex Franklin hopes she's found an owner.
Hi there, my name's Alex.
We've had your cat brought into us, Benny?
He was brought into us on Friday.
He had unfortunately been involved in a road traffic accident.
He's been missing a whole year?
He's obviously got injuries at the moment from the accident,
and we're not sure at the moment whether he's going to fully recover
from them or not.
Well, that was a very interesting phone call.
Her first response was,
"No, you haven't, I've got Benny here, he's sat with me."
As I described the cat, she said, "Oh, my goodness!
"It's my other cat - he's been missing for a year."
I think this is going to be a rather emotional morning for her.
We'll see her when she gets here.
So, the stray cat had been wearing his brother Benny's collar.
Now the vets know his real name is Sasha.
The vets have clients all over South Wales.
At the Neath branch,
some very unusual pets have arrived for morning consultation.
Say hello, Thomas.
Becky and Jonathan have brought in Thomas the macaw to have his wings clipped.
We've got this towel here. All right...
Performing this procedure is vet Lance Jepson,
one of Wales's leading specialists in exotic pets.
-Yes. Let go?
I've seen this done a few times now,
and I know it's just all noise.
He doesn't like being held, and he doesn't like the towel.
He'd shout at me like that if I wrapped him in a towel.
Lance is cutting the feathers to prevent Thomas flying away
when out of his cage.
He's really unhappy about this.
It's not hurting him.
OK. Just let him come to you now, OK?
Come on. All right, come on.
Hello. Hello. Come on then.
Good boy! Have a shake.
Have a shake.
Wing clipping in parrots can be controversial.
Ideally, the bird should be fully flighted.
It's something we don't recommend except in certain circumstances.
The bird's social needs are paramount.
If, by wing clipping the bird,
if that allows the owner to be happy to bring the bird out of its cage,
and have the bird interacting with the family,
that's the most important thing in my books.
Come on through.
Sasha's owners Pauline and Gerald
spent 14 months thinking their cat was lost forever.
Now they're in for a surprise.
Oh, my God, Sasha!
I knew you'd come back!
Oh, my baby!
Where have you been?
Oh, I know.
-Definitely your boy then?
-Oh, he's my boy.
I'm afraid we don't know exactly where he was found
because it was one of the RSPCA inspectors that picked him up
and brought him into us.
He was in a very bad way.
You know, he's improved dramatically,
but unfortunately, it's still not there yet. OK?
-We've really got to see if he gets his bladder function back.
He's your cat. Further treatment and everything will be down to you.
-We stopped his insurance.
-Because he went missing?
After a year, yeah, we did.
As I said, the main thing is the next 24 hours -
do we have bladder function or not? OK?
You can spend as much time as you like with him now
because it's been a while.
-It must have been a shock for me to ring you.
-It's been awful.
It doesn't matter where we go,
we're forever up and down, constantly looking for him.
We've found him.
What we want now is for you to get better and come home now, isn't it?
We'll be back tomorrow.
I am just so glad that I know where he is now,
even if the outcome is not very good.
At least I know where he is and I can say,
"All right, OK, now I can take him home."
I just hope to God that he does get better.
In the preparation room, vet Gareth is giving Lizzie an anaesthetic
for her bladder stone operation.
There we go. So, this is the drug to induce her.
We give that slowly and she'll gradually fall asleep.
Good girl, Liz.
Lizzie is an old dog
and a scan has revealed her stones are rather large.
On the X-ray, it was impossible to tell how many there were.
All we can do is open the bladder and take out what we can find.
There's always a risk of leaving a small one behind,
which isn't solving the problem. The owners want everything sorted.
They've plucked up the courage to have it done,
which was a big decision for them.
If we said in two or three months, we need to do it all again,
they might think twice and it could be game over for her, unfortunately.
For the first part of the surgery, Gareth has to make an incision
to gain access to Lizzie's bladder.
This is the bladder.
You can see the stones inside.
They should not be there.
Now I need to try and just gently manipulate those out of the bladder.
That's the one we could see - the big triangular one.
Nobody knows why one dog gets them and another dog doesn't.
It's all to do with genetics
and how the dog metabolises and uses the salts in the diet.
This is the other big one.
That is quite big.
Yes, it's pretty big.
It is amazing how symmetrical and almost pretty they are.
This is an expensive pretty bladder stone as well.
A few more smaller ones - quite a few in there.
All those ones there.
These are more impressive than your average ones.
As the night staff come on duty at the practice,
Lizzie will to be monitored as she recovers from her operation.
It's not just fluffy cats and dogs that the vets look after.
Being so close to Gower,
farm animals and horses are a large part of the practice workload.
Vet Alex Franklin is on her rounds.
An important saying on the Gower is "Beware the black cow".
Obviously, horses, sheep, cattle are all free to roam the commons.
In the dark, you don't see that black cow
that's in the middle of the road, so you always have to be careful.
There's one crossing now.
Or, in this case, beware of the yellow cow.
Today's visit is to Merlyn,
a Welsh mountain pony who has a dental problem.
Here we go then. Poor Jeff's got the hard work.
OK there, Jeff?
There's a good boy.
This technique is know as rasping
filing down the sharp edges of the teeth.
It may look brutal, but it's necessary.
I want to make sure we're not injuring the tongue there.
Normally the teeth would lie flat against each other.
Horses grind their food, so the teeth constantly grow,
and the grinding from eating wears them down as they grow.
Rather than having flat surfaces, this horse's mouth and teeth
have actually got a wave in them, so that means he's restricted
in how much he can grind because they don't flow over each other.
Brilliant, Jeff. You're doing a great job there.
So, you can see the tooth edges are coming off onto my rasp.
So, that's the sharp edges I'm taking off.
Although we've got to do some work on the wave mouth,
you never rasp the top surfaces
because you can then open up the sensitive cavities inside.
These teeth back here are much happier.
There was a really nasty sharp point here,
so he'll be much more comfortable.
It's been four days since Sasha's road traffic accident.
Vet Gareth is looking for signs of progress with the cat's back legs.
His back end - you can place his paws where they should be,
but he's not really doing very much for himself at the moment.
When you turn his toes over,
he should put them back to how they are normally.
The nerves to the back end aren't quite aware of where his paws are.
It's still touch and go with him, really.
There's a worry that if he doesn't improve
and get back to a functional state
where he can walk and toilet on his own,
he might still get put to sleep, which is sad.
With Sasha's recovery still uncertain,
Gareth has to break the bad news to Pauline and Gerald, the owners.
So, he's obviously got some nerve damage coming down the back end.
Like in people, it's impossible to know how bad that is
without doing things like an MRI or CT scan, but they are very expensive.
-Really, we wanted to make sure that you understand how bad he is.
He's certainly not out of the woods at all.
-If we think that he's not getting better,
or he's starting to suffer and he's in a lot of pain,
we might have to make a difficult decision and put him to sleep.
There's hope, but it's just that it could be a slow process,
and we're looking for gradual improvements every day
or every other day,
just to keep on giving us a reason to persevere with him, really.
It's a delicate task to spell out the options,
and Pauline must decide whether to keep Sasha's treatment going.
You know, all that time when he was missing,
just to find him and then lose him again,
It's not very nice, is it?
We don't give up on somebody like you.
When Partner Gareth is not looking after other people's animals,
he has his own dog Scrumpy to care for.
Come on then. Good boy.
I've had Scrumpy since he was a pup.
I got him when I was still at college.
I had visions of leaving college, leaving my friends,
and being a vet in the middle of nowhere with no social life,
so, I thought I'd get a dog as a bit of company.
It hasn't turned out like that, but I wouldn't be without him. Yes...
He's a good companion.
Go on, then! Go on then.
Gareth got his dog, then a vet's job,
and now he's worked his way to partner at the practice.
It's definitely a vocation, a way of life.
Sometimes you're in at 7am and you don't get home until 11, 12 at night.
You have to be really quite dedicated. But it pays off.
It's well worth it.
No, I do enjoy it. It's good.
A vet for ever, and no plans to change.
Go on! Go on!
Over in Neath, exotics vet Lance Jepson
is about to operate on a prize-winning show fish.
I'm going to add the anaesthetic powder directly into the water.
He should, in fact, just nod off.
You can see he's partly on his side because he's in such shallow water.
But if you look at the eye, the eye is trying to be horizontal.
Actually, fish keeping is my hobby.
That's what I've done since I was 12. It's my dad's fault.
He bought me two goldfish.
-Let's just risk it, shall we?
OK. So, this is the bit we're going to remove.
This Discus fish has excess tissue around its gills
which needs to be removed to help it breathe properly.
The fish needs regular injections of water to keep it alive.
Actually, we're going to swap ends, OK?
It'll make it easier for me to get to that.
Lance must be speedy with his surgical scissors
as the fish can't survive for more than a few minutes out of water.
Right then, let's get him...
Let's get him back into here.
The main thing now is to get him back into his own tank
where the water quality is good.
The whole exotics thing is what gets me out of bed in a morning.
That's why I became a vet - not to work with dogs and cats,
um...but to work with... these species.
It's three days since Lizzie's bladder stone operation,
and she's ready for home.
And her owner Lisa is in for a surprise
when she comes to collect her.
So, these are...
Oh, my goodness me. That came out of her?
Yes, all of them.
How on earth..?!
Oh, my goodness me.
It's amazing, isn't it?
That's... I'm totally shocked.
I've seen gall stones, but nothing like that.
The sheer size of them - there was no room in her bladder.
You wouldn't think animal could tolerate something like that.
I know. She's pretty special, isn't she?
Yes. We wouldn't even know she's had anything wrong with her,
this is the problem.
That's great, thank you.
Lovely. Thanks ever so much, guys, thank you.
Can I take those stones as well, do you mind?
-Yes, I'll put them in a bag for you.
-Thanks, take care.
I think that's the real high of the job -
you've done something right and made a difference to that owner,
and given her hopefully a few more months, or...
She's a strong dog - she could go on till she's 20.
She's not your average 17-year-old, is she?
Not every animal is fortunate enough to be a pet with a caring owner.
Each year in Wales thousands of cats and dogs are abandoned or abused.
Here at Llys Nini Animal Centre they try to re-home them.
The practice provides the veterinary care for the charity
and this week, Alex is on duty.
-We just want to check up on this one. She was down with you
a few days ago and had a back leg amputated.
-So it's just to check up.
-How is she getting on?
-She's doing all right. It does seem a bit sore.
Come on, then. You come out. If you could hold her for me?
She's having a bit of a wriggle and doesn't want me to look at her staples.
-That's perfect. There we are.
-That's good, isn't it?
The wound itself is healing really nicely. She had nerve damage,
so amputation was the only option for her.
There's not actually much pain or discomfort around that at all.
-There we are. Lovely.
-Well done. Is she going outside and using her outdoor run?
-She's not. She's just staying inside at the moment.
-At the moment, that's all she should do.
We'll reassess then when we take those staples out.
And hopefully, she'll be back to normal cat mode, even on three legs!
This puppy was in with us at St James's
and unfortunately had a really nasty case of Demodex.
Demodex is a normal mite that's on the skin, but in some cases,
if for any reason the animal's under the weather or their immune system's compromised,
they can actually be infected by it.
The head is probably still the worst place at the moment,
but there's no current infection in the skin, so I'm happy that we stop the antibiotics, Laura.
-OK, thank you very much.
-OK? Well done, you!
Hello! Look at that tail going! Oh, you're a cutie!
Once she's better, there's going to be no problem re-homing this one. Hey!
Exotic pet owners travel from far and wide for Lance Jepson's expert advice.
Today, Neil has come from Llanelli with his marmoset monkey, Gizmo.
-Put him there?
-How are we doing? Yeah.
-Come on, Giz. Don't bite me now. Come on, boy.
The monkey recently suffered a leg fracture and Lance wants to see if it's healing.
-You know you said wash it with the salt water?
-He wouldn't allow me anywhere near it.
That's healing really well. I'm really pleased with that.
You've done a good job, to be fair.
-But he wouldn't stay in that small cage. He had to go in this big cage.
-Up in the furry bits of the thing. He wasn't bouncing about that much.
But he won't eat the food I've been buying off Mazuri.
-Off the Mazuri? Yeah.
-He won't eat the gum, he won't eat the tamarin cake.
He's eating fruit and vegetables and things,
but I want to get him on the proper foods he should be on.
But because Gizmo's been hand-reared,
he maybe doesn't quite know what a normal marmoset should be eating.
Because he will be... His experience of food is based on what he's given.
-And what he sees the parent group eat.
-He's been learning from me, yeah.
Yeah. And at the moment, this gentleman is the parent group.
When I sort of let go...
It's been six days since Sasha's road traffic accident,
and Gareth is hoping for some signs of recovery.
Hey, boy. Good lad.
As we bring him towards the table, he should reach out for it,
which isn't... So his front legs are doing what they should do.
His back legs...
ah, see, that was good!
Wow! That was... That's better. I wasn't expecting him to do that.
-See that, Shelley?
-That was good.
-Can you do it with the other leg?
-Oh, he's trying.
-See him try to bring it under himself properly?
I think that's an improvement. Ah, gone a bit emotional, yeah!
Good boy. See once more.
-He's probably like, "All right, all right, don't milk it!"
That's a definite improvement. That's really good.
-Well done, Sasha.
That's going to be good news for his owner there. Oh, wow.
Sometimes it's the advice that the vets give to owners
which can make the difference in an animal's care.
Are you showing off, babes?
In Llanelli, Neil is trying to wean Gizmo, the marmoset monkey, off his favourite food.
See that now, we've got this custard slice.
He doesn't eat the icing, it's just the custard bit he eats.
See he's going for a bit of water and Coke mix there now.
He's got one of Coke and one of water, so he's got a choice what he wants to drink, basically.
Are you going to eat some of this?
With Gizmo's sweet tooth for custard slice and Coke,
Neil is now trying to encourage the monkey to eat Tamarind paste,
which has all the essential nutrients he needs.
He'll just play games all day with it! He knows what it is.
Come here, baby. Giz!
Is it quite difficult to get him to eat the sort of things that Lance is recommending that you have?
Yeah, that's why I'm hoping the next one I get will be an adult,
so it can teach it then how to be a marmoset
rather than, you know, a human, which he thinks he is at the moment.
Gizmo! Come on, babes.
-After a week of care at the vets...
-Here he is.
..Sasha is being allowed the chance to go on a home visit.
-There's a good boy.
Oh, that's more like it. You have a grump if you want to.
You grump if you want to. And we're going home for a while!
You're not going to like going home in the car, but it'll be worth it.
So, if you can, we're talking about every between two and four hours,
-As you've seen, just massaging his legs gently.
Just getting the muscles warmed up. You can do the same with his back.
And then it's just gently flexing and extending his leg, really.
-It's all very basic, but it all really helps.
Sasha was missing for over 14 months.
Now he has the chance of some home comforts
and to be reunited with brother Benny.
Chicken! Come on, boys. Come on.
Look what I've got for you. There.
It's amazing what people will do for their pets.
Some people will go without themselves just to give the pet the treatment that they need.
I think it's not until you've got an animal of your own and you've got that bond,
that you can appreciate why some people do what they do.
And it's lovely to see, it's really nice.
He is certainly worth it.
Certainly worth it.
Three months after his accident, Sasha started to walk again.
Next time on Vets 24/7...
It's touch and go for Bruce, the Cocker Spaniel with a mystery illness.
He doesn't know where he is, we're going to have to work hard and fast on him.
..Vet Andy investigates Georgina's "horse" cough...
And Harriet the dog has to change her ways.
Well, she's permanently high!
If she's eating the obesity biscuit, just feed her that.
Because she's very overweight.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd.
This new series follows a week in the life of one of the largest veterinary practices in South Wales. For over 120 years, St James Vets have been treating all creatures great and small from their branches in Swansea and Neath.
In this episode, will a stray cat recover from a road traffic accident and be reunited with its owners? Vet Alex Franklin deals with a Welsh mountain pony's dental problem, and practice partner Gareth Field cares for old dog Lizzie, who needs a life-saving operation. Plus Wales's leading exotic pet specialist Lance Jepson has a parrot and a monkey to treat.