Series charting a week at one of the largest veterinary practices in South Wales. A senior partner treats a cocker spaniel with a mystery illness. A Westie's diet must be changed.
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'This 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 or what he's doing.
That's why we're going to have to work hard and fast on him.
'Vet Andy investigates Georgina's hoarse cough.'
'And Harriet the dog has to change her ways.'
Oh, she's permanently high.
If she's eating the obesity biscuits, just feed her that.
Because she's very overweight.
'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 to animal emergencies.'
'Bruce, the cocker spaniel, has been rushed in
'with severe bleeding and diarrhoea.'
Wish him all the best, then.
'Senior partner Dai Roberts will have to work fast
'to stabilise Bruce's critical condition.'
There's not enough pressure in his blood vessel
to actually flow the...blood
back into the needle when you put it in.
'Bruce is desperately dehydrated.
'He needs a drip to replace his lost fluids.'
What I'm doing is, if you look at the drip up there,
if I put pressure on the vein now, you can see it stops.
So it shows it actually is in the vein with him.
Getting his vein was never going to be easy.
And it's so necessary just to save his life.
'It's all been a bit of a shock for Bruce's owner, Chris.'
Just hope for the best, I think.
They're part of the family, aren't they?
They are part of the family, you know, and...
you come down in the morning, and he's jumping around.
And not to see that, it's, er...yeah, it's worrying.
Look at him now, his eyes. He's just not interested. Can you see that?
You know, he doesn't know where he is or what he's doing.
That's why we'll have to work hard and fast on him.
Hopefully in an hour, you'll see a big improvement.
That's what we want to see. We'll come back in an hour and look at him.
'17 vets work at the practice
'and they serve towns and villages all over South Wales.
'At the Morriston clinic, vet Catherine Tore
'is having her daily visit from Harriet, the Westie,
'who has a severe ear infection.'
-Let's put some drops in those ears of yours.
Ssh now, ssh.
-All right, all right, all right. Good girl.
We've still got these, um... even with the anti-inflammatories
-treating the infection, we've still got these chronic changes.
'Mrs Powell visits every day for the drops to be applied by the vets.
'And she is hoping an operation will solve Harriet's problem.'
It worries me, you said she might be paralysed. Is that temporary or...?
Yes. Yeah. The operation itself is quite a serious operation.
It's quite a complicated operation.
It involves opening up and removing the lining of the ear canal.
And losing the function of the ear.
So she won't be able to hear, as a result.
Whenever I shout at her, I say, "Harriet!"
And she doesn't listen. So I assumed she's partly, you know,
got trouble, or she's just defiant.
-Selective hearing, eh?
We can't have you coming down here every day for us to put drops in.
It's just really manageable that way, or for you, lass.
-We'll see you on Wednesday.
-Thank you very much.
-Thank you. I'm going out.
'Harriet will lose her hearing after surgery,
'and the whole ordeal is making Mrs Powell worried.'
It's going to be a bit of a problem,
because she might be paralysed, um...down one side.
And that's what I'm a bit nervous of, because we've got stairs.
I've got a...stair-lift.
But, of course, I can't lift her.
Well, we'll sleep downstairs.
As long as she'll get better.
'Caring for small animals is the bread and butter of any vets.
'But being so close to the rural communities in South Wales,
'these vets have to have more than one string to their bow.
'Andy Hopker specialises in farm animals.'
I really, really like animals. I really like the countryside.
I really like the outdoors, I really like farmers.
I enjoy the country life.
Oh, it's gorgeous!
'Andy is at Gelli Stables to visit Georgina,
'a pony...with a nagging cough.'
'He's brought along fellow vet Amy Teale
'and a handy little gadget to investigate.'
This is a video endoscope.
What people might be more familiar with is a magic eye.
So, it moves side to side, moves up, moves down.
We'll slip this up her nose and have a look what's going on in her chest.
There you go. You can see discharge, some inflammation down here.
'Andy needs to get a sample of this discharge,
'so he's injecting some water into Georgina's lungs.'
Went in sterile and it's coming out not sterile any more,
but sterile plus whatever was in Georgina's lungs.
'This flushed-out fluid will be sent to the lab for testing
'to discover what could be causing her cough.'
Coming back out, coming up the windpipe.
Down the nose. And out we come.
Lovely. As her condition is stable at the moment,
we're going to hold off on any other treatment
until we get the results of that sample back.
Unless, of course, she gets worse.
In which case, ring me straightaway, and we'll sort something out.
Yeah, great. Thank you.
'Back at the main hospital, Bruce, the poorly cocker spaniel,
'is receiving regular checks from vet Dai.'
We have a special area up here that is our isolation area
where we put...dogs
that are very poorly and could be infectious to other dogs.
His gums, particularly...if I press them,
you can see they're very, very slow for the blood to go back into them.
It should really be going back in between one and two seconds.
Also, I mean, this time, God bless him,
if I put my finger in his ear, I can feel warmth in there now.
Which I don't think I could feel before.
I can't really say the same about his mouth.
Whatever he's got, it's still very active inside him, you know.
As you can see with Bruce at the moment,
he still is, literally, in a world of his own,
because he's feeling so poorly.
He's having what we call fluid therapy.
We'll give it to him as fast as we dare give it to him.
But then again, we don't want to overload his system either.
He's going to be your special case for the day, I think.
-He needs special attention, doesn't he?
'Dai's been a vet for over 30 years,
'and his caring nature and genuine love of animals
'continues outside the surgery.
'Over the years, his home has become a haven for many of the strays
'and injured animals brought into the practice.'
This is Sid. He's quite a character.
When he broke his leg, his leg was absolutely smashed to pieces.
So he is very lucky to be around.
Percy has got bad eyes.
If you...? Can you see them?
He's, er...his eyelids just grow together.
We've got Milly, our dog. She had a broken leg.
We had to adopt you, cos you were a little stray. Come on, then, Bert.
In you come.
If we hadn't taken them on,
I think every one of them would've been put to sleep.
Cos there was no place for them to go.
'So with standing room only at the Roberts' household, what does Dai do?
'He uses the garden, of course.'
-How you doing?
How are his feet looking today?
They're looking pretty all right.
He's come from the donkey sanctuary
and he's a real character, fair play to him.
And tragically, and I mean tragically,
he lost his partner four weeks ago.
I mean, donkeys amazingly, it's ever so sad,
they can actually die of grief.
It's just so sad she's gone, but, you know,
it's him now we've got to look after.
And I think we've succeeded on that. He seems happy.
'In Morriston, vet Catherine Tore is collecting Harriet for her operation.'
-I see a little pooch.
-She knows you now. Hello.
-How are you getting on?
-'Pensioner Mrs Powell
'and her four-legged friend are rarely apart.'
I'm a bit worried about her, like, you know.
Yeah, indeed. It's only natural.
Especially with her going down to the surgery. Hello!
OK, have you got any questions or any concerns?
No. The less I know, the better.
SHE LAUGHS What's she saying, Harriet?
All right, young lady, are you coming with me?
-Is it a walk?
-Come on, I'll show you the way.
-Okey-doke, let's go.
We'll speak to you tomorrow, Mrs Powell.
-Don't look back.
Off we go. Come on, Harriet.
It's all for the best, anyway, isn't it?
I hope so.
'Six miles away at the practice hospital in Sketty...'
-This is your patient.
-'..Harriet meets partner Gareth Field,
'who will be performing her operation.'
-This is the bad ear, is it?
There we go. OK.
To be honest, looking down it,
she's letting me look down it, and it looks healthy, so...
Further down. So whether it's...
I think, potentially, we need to discuss
whether to go ahead with the operation or not.
Only because it's such a big operation.
Often, there's an underlying allergy that's triggered it.
And it might be better that we treat the allergy
with a short course of steroids first.
I mean, at the moment, she's coming down...
every day to have eardrops.
It might be worth giving her oral medication.
Maybe oral steroids to control the discomfort she's in.
It would be a shame to write off the ear
-if there's a chance of saving it. Is that OK?
Awesome. Saved from the knife for now.
-For now, Harriet.
-I'm not saying for ever.
Cheers, Cat. Thank you.
'Catherine's persistence with the eardrops
'has saved Harriet from an operation.
'But the steroids she will now take
'could cause another problem with her health.'
The downside with steroid anti-inflammatories is that, um...
their appetite increases,
their laying-down of fat increases.
SHE LAUGHS Oh, Harriet Powell!
We have come a cropper on another mountain.
SHE LAUGHS Oh, dear!
'At evening clinic, vet Andy has got his hands full.'
Just open the door for me.
'Harvey, the labrador retriever, is crippled with arthritis,
'and his continuing pain worries his owners John and Jo.'
-He's been struggling. He's not cocking his leg any more.
There's quite a bit of tension in muscles on his back.
An awful lot in the backs of his legs, as well.
He's crooked all the time. You see here, look? He's like that a lot.
This muscle back here is rock hard.
'Andy's not averse to using alternative therapies
'to get a result for his clients.'
Would you like me to give him acupuncture?
Yeah, lovely. Because it really has made a difference.
I can do the whole shebang while he's here today.
We're very happy and pleased with it.
We wanted to continue with it, obviously.
I always tell owners, if the dog hasn't shown an improvement in four weeks, stop coming.
If you haven't seen an improvement in four weeks, you won't.
And you're wasting your money and the dog's time.
So these needles are really, really fine.
They do not hurt at all.
It doesn't hurt. It doesn't hurt the dogs.
The sensation that you get when you put an acupuncture needle in,
the Chinese call de'Qi.
And it is a cool feeling or a tingling feeling.
And you can get some funny effects afterwards.
Maybe a mild sedation, maybe a mild euphoria.
I've seen people get uncontrollable giggles,
um...twitches or just nod off.
When I put the needles in,
we get a reduction in the amount of activity
in the pain centre in Harvey's brain.
So he perceives less pain from his arthritis in his brain.
The first time he had it done, he wasn't like this.
He actually enjoys it now, doesn't he?
Yeah. I mean, they seem to find it a relaxing experience.
It wouldn't be ethical for beginners
to be sticking needles into dogs
in order to learn the technique.
So all the vets who are learning to do acupuncture
stick needles in each other for a week.
'Whether it's complicated Western science,
'or the Chinese river of life,
'all that matters to Harvey
'is that he's able to walk out of Andy's clinic on his own pins.'
'Before leaving for the day, Dai checks upon Bruce one last time.'
There we are, that's a big improvement.
This morning, Bruce didn't even know that he had a name,
but, uh, this evening, Bruce has got a name.
He's far more interested in what we're going to do to him.
There's a good boy, aren't you, boy, eh?
This morning, when I pressed my thumb there,
it would just leave a white mark which stayed there -
there was just no circulation -
and now, you can see that probably within about three seconds,
he's managed to push the blood back into those areas that I squeezed.
But he's not out of the woods yet, by any degree of the imagination.
We better go find someone to clean you up, my little friend,
haven't we, eh?
I think it's the worst part of the job, isn't it?
You know, the best part is to come in tomorrow and see him running around,
and the worst part is to get the phone call tonight,
and to not know which way he's going.
You can only make sure you do your damn best for him,
And then...then go from there.
So, good night, little fella.
'At the large animal practice, vet Andy
'is about to start his caseload for the day.'
Always breakfast on the run, got to have porridge,
and drink your milk, keep our dairy farmers in business.
And we'll have to collect the most important member of the team
on the way out - that's Poppy, the dog.
Poppy likes to help drive the van,
so she puts her foot on my leg usually,
so Pop's a proper vets dog.
She was caught living wild in Swansea
about a month after I came out of vet school.
She's been with me ever since.
'First call is to Glanbran Farm,
'where a cow gave birth to her calf by Caesarean section,
'and her wound has become infected.
'Andy needs to clean her up.'
Cattle are amazingly tough.
Now, if this was a person with an infection like that,
you'd feel sick.
If this was a horse, you'd probably think about being dead.
But, being a cow, she's eating,
she's probably milking nicely, is she?
-Doing the calf well?
-And is generally not that bothered.
I'm just going to pick away at the scab here,
so, anyone who likes zits and things like that,
vetting is the job for you.
'Andy needs to flush out the infected wound with an iodine solution.'
Messy, old job, eh?
Yeah, it is.
If you look inside, the tissue is nice and healthy,
it's just a surface problem, really,
but it's still something you want sorted out.
That's looking a lot better now, nice and clean,
healthy flesh you can see there.
'Although the wound looks bad, it is clean now
'and will heal up quickly.
'Job done, it's time for Andy to hit the road again.'
I come from a farming village,
so I used to work on a farm since I was a small boy,
and I always knew I wanted to stay working in farming and with big animals.
I always enjoyed science at school, so it just seemed the natural way to go.
'In many ways, Andy is not what you'd call a conventional vet,
'even down to his choice of transport.'
It's an unusual choice for a veterinary surgeon,
but I used to do a lot of volunteer work overseas, in India and such,
so I used to work short contracts in Britain.
Um, just driving round the country, week here, week there.
Um, I always hated living in B&Bs,
so I used to get the work stuff in the side door,
and then the vet and the dog would crawl in the back door to sleep.
'Andy is settled back home now
'and has a roof over his head and a job he's clearly passionate about.'
To me, working indoors all the time with be like being in a prison.
I just like to be out and about with my dog.
'Back at the hospital, Dai's first job of the day
'is to visit the isolation unit to check on Bruce, the cocker spaniel,
'with nurse Ruben.'
Well, gosh, he is looking a heck of a lot better today.
Much better, isn't she?
He's seen this walk in the room.
And I understand you're a little bit nervous of us.
Hello, Bruce. Hey, oh, mate.
Oh, right, oh, dear, dear, dear.
So, you're grumpy boy today, are you?
You're looking a very much healthier boy.
Come on, up you come.
I don't think you want to come and meet all of us, I'm afraid.
We've given him two types of antibiotics,
and I think the fact he's responded so quickly
would suggest that it was more of an infection, I think,
rather than anything else.
I suspect he's found something unmentionable and eaten it,
and has got a really bad tummy after it.
There we are, we shall see later, mate. OK?
'What a difference a day makes -
'Bruce was at death's door,
'now he is on the mend.
'In the kennels, Harriet, the Westie,
'is being looked after by auxiliary nurse Stacey,
'and the vets have made a discovery.
'Harriet has been living on a diet of cat food.'
This is a healthier option,
but I don't know if Harriet is going to eat this.
'Look out, Harriet, time for some big changes to the menu.'
Come on, then.
Ah, what's this?
Come on, do you want some?
'Changing Harriet's diet is going to help the dog's ear allergy
'and her overall health,
'as her vet Catherine knows.'
Mrs Powell's world is Harriet,
and, to her, she sees so much happiness and Harriet when she's eating,
but we can still keep Harriet a happy dog
and not feed her five sachets a day.
I feel the happiness of that dog is removing the discomfort from its ears.
Oh, Harriet, do eat something.
'Farming has been through many changes
'since the practice started 120 years ago.'
'Andy is visiting Crichton Farm.
'It used to be a home for a dairy herd,
'but now Viv Jefferies provides stabling for horses.
'And he's here to see if any of the mares are pregnant,
'with the help of an ultrasound detector.'
Wow, wow, wow.
What have we got?
That's well in foal.
That's a good start, anyhow.
So far, so good.
I can't take any credit for that though, it's up to the stallion.
This mare, we haven't, well,
the owner hasn't had a foal off her for the last two years, now.
Lovely live foal, there, and you can see it moving around.
'Looking after these horses have become Viv's livelihood,
'since he was forced to give up dairy farming four years ago.'
Around here now, there's a lot of herbs that have gone through TB,
and what I can see, since I've give up milk four years ago,
there's nothing being done to combat TB.
An awful lot of feels that used to have cattle and sheep in,
feeding the country basically, now have horses in.
Not just in the Gower but all over Britain.
It's a big transformation, like, you know. I still miss the cows.
Probably 20 years ago, the practice did 50% farmer work.
Now we're probably down to... the cattle and horses together,
probably take up 20% of our time.
Yeah, she's in.
Further in, and just patting him on the head, I am.
Things are looking good, now, so there must be something in the grass.
So, we'll have to but the rent up, now.
Come on, girl, step back, come on.
-Come on, big one, come on, big yin.
-Just a push.
'At the practice, an emergency patient has arrived
'and requires Dai's attention.'
-Sad, isn't it?
Poor little thing.
There you are, little fella.
Beautiful birds, aren't they?
He's just totally paralysed, he's just not using his legs.
See? I mean, no matter what I do with him, he's...
They're just...useless, really.
He could have been singing in the top of a tree tomorrow morning. CAT MIAOWS
There you are. It's kinder to let him go, I think, that's the main thing.
His tiny little veins.
And they're very, very difficult to inject into.
I think the injection went in, which is great, so, um...
It works instantaneously, so I would hope that he's...he's gone now.
Poor little thing.
And I think he's...he's fast... Well, he's...
You know, his heart's not going, so he's gone there now.
'After the cancellation of Harriet's operation,
'she's heading back home with vet Gareth and nurse Shelly,
'who runs Chub Club for overweight pets.'
-Got Harriet, that's the main thing.
Cool. Let's go.
'Their mission is to make it clear to Mrs Powell
'that cat food is definitely not for Harriet in her condition.'
What do you think it is?
It could be the Felix she's allergic to,
so we've brought you some other food to try,
and if she finds she likes one,
it might be worth sticking to that one for about a month.
-She'll never stick to anything for ever.
-It's not healthy for a dog to have...um...
No, she's currently high.
If she's eating the obesity biscuits, just feed her that.
-No Felix, no nothing else, because she's very overweight, OK.
-And, you know...
-I didn't take her down there to be insulted.
No, I know, but, you know, she's got this ear problem now,
but the way her weight is, she could have heart problems, diabetes, liver problems...
-..you know, and it's going to be harder, like you were saying, for yourself to keep...
-We're both now, we're both getting older.
-We walk less and less.
-I can't do it. Harriet has always had as much as she wants of whatever she likes.
-Now it's time to get serious.
-But also, for the allergy, we've got you some tablets to try.
-Oh, that's ideal for me.
Cos you can't manage the drops, so we'll forget the drops.
These tablets are just one a day and they're to stop the allergy,
so these ones are to stop the allergy,
and then these ones are antibiotics, and she's on one tablet twice a day.
-I'll put them with mine.
-Don't mix them up.
-All right, then? So if you can be really strict with her food and her tablets...
-Now she's listening.
-It'll be better. Yeah, listen, Harriet, be good.
-Then you'll be doing her a favour in the long run.
-Take care, Mrs Powell.
-No problem, take care, thanks very much.
-Good luck with it. Bye-bye!
'With the right diet and new tablets,
'hopefully Harriet will have a brighter, and lighter, future.'
'Another dog who's enthusiastic about leaving is cocker spaniel Bruce.'
Right, then, Bruce.
It's time to go home, mate.
There you are. There's a good boy, aren't you?
There's a heck of a difference in you now.
Come on, then, fella.
'Thanks to the efforts of Dai and his team,
'Bruce has beaten his infection and can be reunited with his owner.'
Come on, my boy!
The nicest thing about Bruce is, when he gets over it, it's like 100%.
So, you know, there's ten years of life just walked out of the door,
which is what it's all about, really.
'Next time on Vets 24/7,
'there's a wild Tigger in the practice.'
CAT SQUEALS AND SPITS
All right, all right, all right!
'Vet Becky is called out to a collapsed cow.'
Glucose levels would be down - she'd get dehydrated and could die at the end of it.
'And find out why Tonka the bulldog is not feeling himself.'
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
This 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, it's touch and go for Bruce the cocker spaniel with a mystery illness, can senior partner Dai Roberts save his life? Large animal vet Andy Hopker hits the rural roads to care for cows and horses on the farms in Gower. And nurse Shelly who runs 'Chubb Club' for overweight pets has to persuade Harriet the West Highland terrier to change her diet.