Series charting life at one of the largest veterinary practices in South Wales. Senior partner Dai Roberts gives 55 kilo French Mastiff dog Bronson a pedicure.
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This time on Vets 24/7,
partner Gareth Field investigates a mysterious blockage.
And this is his stomach.
If he hasn't eaten for three days, that should be empty.
Vet Gwen Rees brushes up on her manicure techniques.
Maybe I've missed my career calling
and I should have been a beauty therapist.
And partner David Steele performs life-changing
surgery on Sandy.
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...
and the St James veterinary practice is open for business.
Hello, Bronson, mate.
Senior partner Dai Roberts first client of the day is Bronson,
a French Mastiff.
He's grown a bit, as well, since I last saw him.
55 kilos now.
He's so big and powerful now, I can't cut his nails any more.
So, he needs to be sedated, you know, away with the fairies.
Bronson's owners Tracey and Paul have been struggling
to look after the pads on Bronson's paws.
Bronson. It's all right. All right.
What do you want to do, put him on the table, is it?
I'm not that strong any more.
He's got a problem with the pads of his feet,
where they just keep on growing, don't they?
And then, of course, they grow so far that they start to crack apart.
He has his teenager days, when he likes to run upstairs,
and we can't get him back from the top of the stairs.
He's got his own room in the house, as well.
His own room, his own settee. What's his room like then? A bit wrecked.
He's chewed everything, pulled the wallpaper off the walls...
Bronson's owners have a pedicure device,
which they've been trying to use on their pet's feet.
It's very gentle.
I've never used to its full extent,
because the dog won't keep still, you know.
Big bruiser Bronson is afraid of the noise
and vibrations the new gadget makes.
So, a little sedation is called for to make things
easier for Bronson...and Dai. We'll just walk him through now, then.
I think it went in. Good boy. There we are, give him here.
Go in the waiting room, and I'll let you...
Come on, now.
There you are, in you come.
It's not just cats and dogs the vets treat - livestock and horses
make up a quarter of their workload, and it's vet Gwen Rees's passion.
I can only take, maybe, an hour or two max indoors before I start really
needing some fresh air, so I think definitely large animals
are the job for me, because I'm an outdoors kind of girl.
I need to be wrestling something to the ground in the rain
to feel alive, you know?
Gwen's first port of call is to Bevexe Fach Stables in Dunvant to see a lame horse.
She's just got a wound on her leg.
It's never really healed.
She recently knocked the scab off it,
so they've been putting a poultice on it to see
if they can draw anything out, so I'm just going to have a quick look.
Oh, yeah... Gosh and that's still been there since...
Yeah, there's quite a bit coming out of there as well, isn't there?
What we'll do is pop another poultice on,
because we are, obviously, draining something.
So, the way this poultice works, you add some hot water to it,
and the theory is, that it helps to draw out any pus or any nasty gunk,
basically, that's in that wound. There we are.
There we are, good girl.
This isn't quite as girly or as glamorous, is it, miss?
Still, I like green, green's a good colour.
There we are, lovely.
Yeah, she can go back in now. Aw, it's not that bad.
But before Gwen can leave the yard,
there's an unexpected patient needing her help.
All right, Nibbles, we have got some long nails, wowee!
You're not taking care of your own nails, are you?
Fair old size on them.
I think maybe I've missed my career calling
and I should have been a beauty therapist.
Fit right in, in The Only Way Is Essex,
now with nails like that, innit!
Yeah, all done.
In Sketty, at the practice hospital, an urgent case has arrived.
Charlie, an 11-year-old Boston Terrier, hasn't eaten for three days.
Partner Gareth Field needs to investigate what is causing the problem.
Will you come over this way for a bit?
I'm just scanning his belly to look at all his organs.
Look for any abnormalities.
This, sort of, structure here is his stomach.
If he hasn't eaten for three days, it should be empty,
but it's basically got something in it, here,
with some gas on the top, which shows up as white.
He's eaten something before and had to have an operation to remove that.
So, yeah, he's got a reputation as a bit of a scavenger.
I'll speak to his owners now, but I think the safest thing might be
to go to surgery and explore the abdomen.
If we don't operate and we leave it, it could be fatal, really,
if it perforated.
Hi, there, it's Gareth from the vets again. I'm phoning about Charlie.
It looks like it is an obstruction,
we haven't fully ruled out a tumour, cos they can get
tumours of the intestine or the stomach that can cause blockages.
But given his history and his signs, we're hopeful it's not...
and we're hopeful it's something we can sort out for him, really.
Erm, I think the next step is probably going to be surgery
to have a look in his belly and see what's going on, to be honest.
Charlie will now have to wait for a slot in theatre.
Arriving in the prep room is Bronson, and vet Dai Roberts
is patiently waiting for the sedation to take effect.
There's a good boy.
He should get sleepy and go down.
As I say, I'm only sedating him, I'm not anaesthetising him.
I want to do him as fast as we can.
Weighing in at almost 55 kilos,
it's a team effort to get the dog on the table.
Now that Bronson is away with the fairies,
Dai can tackle his problem feet.
With a dog this size,
we should have called the large animal vets in, I think.
This is the best we can do, but this thing's brilliant, ain't it?
You can see the colour of the pad is changing, which obviously
means I'm getting about as low as I dare go.
But it's still rock hard there. What do you think?
BUZZING FROM DEVICE DROWNS OUT SPEECH
Bronson's owners are keen to see the results of the new gadget
and Dai's handiwork. I daren't go any further.
It's funny how some are nearly perfect.
These ones are amazing, aren't they?
You happy with that or do you want me to go a bit further?
No, that's fine. No, that's fantastic.
He's part of the family. The house has been quiet this afternoon.
Peaceful and quiet. Just get him home now and feed him,
and hopefully he's nice and calm and settled down,
see how his paws are getting on then.
There he is. Still a bit spaced out, are you? Thank you.
Oh, it's nice to see him going home.
Now, next time, he can have more confidence that there's less risk,
and after a while, hopefully, it'll become more of an easy process.
Dai has been caring for animals for over 30 years.
And he is known for taking his work home with him.
Often, difficult cases have ended up being adopted by the Roberts' family.
Come on, you lot, let's go, then.
Rosie is our newest arrival. Come here.
She's just about destroyed my street credibility, but she's Linda,
my wife's, dog, not mine.
And she was born with a cleft palate and because of that, every time
she tried to suck her mother's milk, it would just go down into her lungs.
You know, she is the first dog in 120 years which has gone
through our practice and actually survived with a cleft palate.
So, she's very special in that respect.
And she knows it and she's a good friend for Millie, aren't you, eh?
And Burt, for that matter.
The practice has been caring for the animals of Swansea for over 100 years.
At the oldest branch, in the city centre, vet Gwen
has a small animal consultation. Put Marble down on the table.
Loretta and her mum, Enid, are worried about their cat.
Check-up? Well, she's coming up for three now... OK.
..and we think she's underweight. OK.
I don't know whether she might have a worm or something.
We have wormed her... OK. ..but before that, she's OK.
Her tummy don't feel right to me, I don't know.
Did she put on any weight after that or...?
Not really, she hasn't lost any. And she's eating. OK. She's going to the toilet normally?
She was bonnie, with a fat neck and lovely tummy, and I wormed her,
and she hasn't seemed to put on weight ever since.
You're a good girl, aren't you?
She's almost perfect weight. Is she? From my point of view.
What I like to think is, with a cat,
is when you run your hand along the back there,
she's got lovely muscles going all the way down, either side of her spine.
So, you can't feel the bone sticking out.
That's what I said to my daughter, she's got a lovely structure,
but her stomach felt hollow to me, when I picked her up.
And the other cat with you, absolutely fine?
Lovely tummy on her. Ah, OK. You can see she's eating well.
So she might be, maybe, a little bit over then, maybe?
Which is making you think this one's thin.
Well, she's got a lovely, beautiful figure, anyway.
So, there's nothing to worry about. Thank you very much.
All right, no problem. A manicure, she'll go for.
Marble's lucky - she's got a clean bill of health.
They were obviously very worried. Aw, sweet.
I love seeing everyone's relationship with their animals.
They all love them to bits, every single one.
Even if they don't show it, everyone loves their animals, so...
Back in the main hospital, vet Gareth is preparing to operate
on Charlie, the Boston Terrier, and his mysterious tummy blockage.
Whatever the obstruction is, if left there, Charlie could die.
Yes, this is the stomach.
Which is pretty big, given that he's apparently not eaten
for two and a half days.
OK, so this is looking more abnormal here.
That's actually his colon, which is sat right by his stomach.
You can see how purple that looks,
compared to the health pink of that one.
Not sure what it is yet,
but it's probably something manky that he's eaten.
Three and half or a four metric, if possible?
OK, ready? Pretty grim, isn't it?
The sort of things that dogs will eat. A sock. Sarah's bet is a sock.
That's a common favourite for dogs to eat.
So, smelly socks, and the smellier the better, I think.
It's nice when an operation, sort of, vaguely goes to plan.
Hopefully now we've found something, and he'll just get better
and get over it.
Just need to try and stop him from doing it again.
Charlie will have to remain in recovery and be monitored overnight.
And Gareth can take a well-earned break.
When he's not working,
Gareth's got his hands full with his own pet dog, Scrumpy.
I got Scrumpy when I was still at university,
so still a student in Bristol.
He's been a good companion.
There's a new addition now to Gareth and Scrumpy's life - a fellow vet.
Ellie came to work at the practice, and I had a bit of a crush
on her for a while and then eventually managed to win her over.
I think Scrumpy's just about accepted me now...ish.
A little bit of jealousy, but...
Come on, then.
But their budding romance is about to enter a new chapter,
as Ellie is heading back to university, in Bristol.
Sad but exciting as well. Yes, exactly. Hopefully it will fly by.
Shut up, you're going to have a great time. You'll be partying.
No, I'll miss you, Ellie. Yeah, whatever!
The practice has five partners,
and Irish-born David Steele has his first patient of the morning.
Did it just come on all of a sudden?
a Golden Retriever cross, has picked up a leg injury.
He was running with the other dogs down to the water
and then all of a sudden... It came on all at once.
Yeah, he's a little bit tender with that as well,
so on examination, it does look suspicious of a torn cruciate,
the same as he did on the other side.
Once I'd seen it going again on the beach,
I knew then it would be the same.
Cos he had the other leg done, and it's marvellous with him.
It's the sort of thing that would probably be better off with an operation, really...
We've got to, haven't we? You look after me, don't you?
This cruciate knee surgery doesn't come cheap,
but Sandy means the world to Dianne.
Since I lost my mother and my two brothers, you know,
after one another then, he's marvellous.
We've got to have it done. That's it. Yeah.
On large animal duty, vet Gwen Rees has received an emergency call.
She's off to Llangennech, near Llanelli, to see Patch,
a 26-year-old horse who's become unsteady on her feet
and has worried her owner, Alison.
Right, what's the story, then? I spoke to you on the phone.
She got back up after about a quarter of an hour,
wandered around, but she's constantly looking for somewhere to go down.
Oh, you have been rolling. Look at the mud on your face!
Let me look in your mouth, please, madam?
Ooh, we haven't got many teeth left, have we?
That's definitely an old horse mouth. Yeah.
If we walk her out into the light, I just want to see how she moves.
She is quite wobbly on her back legs.
She's like clipping her own feet, isn't she? OK, she can stop there.
She's certainly showing some signs of stiffness in these back legs,
and with her history and her age,
we probably are looking at some arthritis.
Whether that's the main problem...
The fact that she's a little bit off colour in herself, as well,
there could be a few other things going on.
We can do a blood sample to see if there's any sign of infection.
If her liver and kidneys are working all right
or if there's any organ problems. This is me in my element now.
It's the horse work that I enjoy. So, the more I get to do, the better.
My oldest son is coming home from university now today,
and I was panicking.
Cos it wouldn't be a nice present, coming home from uni, to find out
the horse has had to be put down.
Part of the family, aren't you, love?
If it does come to the point where she is lying down all the time,
then we may have to think about it being the end of the road.
If that's what it comes to, that's what it comes to,
but if we can do anything, then that's what we'll do. All right?
OK, cheers. There we are, speak to you later on. Right, OK, thanks.
When a family pet reaches the autumn of its life,
sometimes difficult decisions have to be made.
When it comes to putting a horse to sleep,
or putting any animal to sleep,
it's something that should be talked about and shouldn't be
something people are scared to say to the vet or scared to ask about.
I think it's one of the greatest kindnesses we can do for animals.
But we'll know a lot more when we get the blood samples back
and we'll hopefully be able to do something for her
and perk her up a little bit.
Back at the hospital, it's time for Charlie,
the dog with a strange eating habit, to be reunited with his owner, Marla.
It's your mum.
I'll just quickly show you what we've found. It's this...
Oh, my gosh. That is not what we thought it was.
Erm, that's from a different toy, maybe? Do you recognise it?
It's a bit smelly, if you could smell it.
In a normal dog, this sort of size thing might have shut out
the back end in a couple of days, no problem...
He likes to suck on toys and rip them up.
Yeah, he's done that his whole life.
It would be much cheaper and better for him
if we could fit him with a little zip. OK.
From now on, fluffy toys are off Charlie's menu.
He just wants to go home, doesn't he?
Next door in the prep room,
it's time for Sandy's cruciate knee operation.
This is his knee here,
and you can see it's got this abnormal movement here.
Unfortunately, that means he has snapped the ligament.
Vet David Steele has done hundreds of these procedures
and knows Sandy will benefit from the operation.
If we didn't do anything with it, he would continue to get worse.
It would become more painful, become arthritic, you know,
and probably end up quite a chronically painful leg,
which he would be struggling to use, really.
Once the knee joint is located,
David is able to assess the extent of the damage.
That's the ends of the ligament that snapped.
You can see there, it's all very red and broken. So, that's the problem.
I quite enjoy working with drills and screws and metal,
and it all kind of makes sense, it's very logical, scientific.
I like that.
The drill is an essential piece of kit,
as David needs to create an anchor point for the new ligament.
This is the actual implant, which we're putting in.
So, it's basically two very strong bits of nylon and a special needle.
The nylon will hold Sandy's knee stable,
allowing the surrounding tissue to heel up around the knee.
Sometimes it will glide through, relatively straight forwardly,
and other times, it can take a little bit more luck of the Irish today.
Finally, David secures the ends of the nylon together
with the steel clip.
The crimp is, basically, what holds the two ends together,
rather than tying a knot.
Pretty happy with that, it's pretty good.
Sandy will stay overnight in the hospital,
where he'll receive 24-hour care from the staff.
Upstairs in the laboratory, vet Gwen
is about to run the tests on the blood taken from Patch.
It could be made or break for the elderly horse.
It's quite nerve-racking, cos it gives you, like...
at the first beep, do this, and the second beep, do that.
The machine will detect any signs of abnormalities
in the horse's blood.
Hi, there, it's Gwen the vet calling.
Erm, I've just had Patch's results back, and it's good news.
Everything seems to be absolutely normal, with those blood results.
More normal, really, than we would expect in a horse of Patch's age.
So, that's very good news.
We probably are looking at the arthritis being the main
reason for the lying down and the struggling to get up.
So, it's good news for Patch and her owners. She's just a pet.
It is arthritic pain.
If we can get that managed and under control
and get the horse comfortable again, then hopefully,
that horse has got a fair while left in her.
It's not very often senior partner Dai Roberts
gets to leave the four walls of the practice, but today
he's managed to bag himself a field trip to Pontardulais.
I just enjoy my job.
I've never, ever woken up and thought
I'm sorry that I was ever a vet. I thoroughly enjoy it.
You get your good days and you get your bad days, but I've always
enjoyed it, and you get a great sense of achievement when things go right.
You know, that's the nature of the job.
Today, Dai is visiting A1K9, a guard dog training centre.
How are you, then? Nice to see you. Nice to see you.
Gaynor's been training dogs for family protection for 20 years,
and her reputation is worldwide.
Hiya, mate. So, who have we got here? This is Sam. Never met him before.
Look him in the eyes, all the things probably I shouldn't do, isn't it?
And then I go like that to him, and he's as soft as butter.
He's so confident, fair play to him.
Let's have a look in your ears. Are they clean? Yes, they're fine.
Your eyes are looking good, yes. How's his big teeth.
They're not bad. Not bad. They've got great temperaments.
Well, he's stereotypical, absolutely lovely.
You can cuddle him, you can love him, he's a great pet,
he's a beautiful dog, but this dog has also got a big heart.
So, if you threatened his family in any way, he will defend them.
So, there you are, mate. We'll give you your rabies vaccine.
So, on three blow into his face. One, two, three...
There you are. You didn't feel anything, mate, did you?
Good as gold, isn't he?
Now that Sam's had his rabies vaccination,
Dai can stamp his passport allowing Gaynor to find him a home.
With past clients like racing driver Nigel Mansell and corporate billionaires,
her dogs could be going anywhere in the world.
At the hospital in Sketty...
Right, pigeon, let's have a look at you.
Vet Gwen has an emergency patient in a critical condition.
Ooh, I know.
Oh, dear. Sorry, buddy, but without a wing, you're not going to do much.
Yeah, from the feel of it, that wing's irreparably damaged, really.
So, I think best thing we can do for him is put him to sleep.
Put him out of his misery.
All right, pigeon, all right.
It's usually the least stressful way with the small,
exotic animals or birds is to pop them in this box,
so that fills with anaesthetic gas...anaesthetise the pigeon
enough for us to give it a lethal injection.
You can see he's pretty fast asleep here.
Right, then, little bird, sorry, but I think it was the best thing for you.
You don't want them dying on the side of the road.
This one has got a pretty badly messed up wing, it needed to come
and be put out of its misery one way or the other, you know.
Erm, I think that's perfectly acceptable,
it's part of the job, yeah.
Don't get stressed, you've been good.
It's 24 hours since Sandy's cruciate knee operation,
and vet Gareth is trying to get him ready to go home.
Hey, hey, hey... Come on, be good. No, hey. Come on.
That's being silly.
DOG GROWLS AND YELPS
He doesn't like the vets, as owner Dianne can testify.
He's been telling them off, has he? Does he do that sometimes?
Oh, yes, sometimes he does. He'll let me know.
Yes. Who's that, Sandy, who's that?
Who's that? It's the waggy tail, hey!
Oh, you handsome boy... And he's been grumpy, has he?
He's been a little bit grumpy, yeah.
We'll see him again, possibly tomorrow morning, would that be OK?
Yeah, yes. Just to see how he's doing.
Can he have something to eat now?
Yes, he can, yeah, definitely, that's absolutely fine.
Quiet without you, hasn't it? Eh?
As a vet, David knows it's a job well done
when his patients can't wait to leave the practice.
You'd nearly think you wanted to go home, Sandy.
This series has witnessed a week in the life of one of the largest
veterinary practices in South Wales.
During that time, life-changing operations have taken place.
Whatever it is, it's better off in a bucket than it is on the chameleon.
Much-loved pets have been given dignity in death.
Oh, he's a good boy, he is.
There's a good boy.
One puppy. Some special deliveries have arrived safely into the world.
How can you not be pleased with that sight? It's nice, isn't it?
And still the caring of animals continues 24/7.
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 last episode, senior partner Dai Roberts gives 55 kilo French Mastiff dog Bronson a pedicure. Is it the end of the road for 26-year-old horse Patch, and vet Gareth Field tries to get to the bottom of what Charlie the Boston terrier has got in his tummy.