Series charting life at one of the largest veterinary practices in south Wales. Newly qualified vet Imogen attempts to treat a herd of coughing calves. Lance treats an iguana.
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This time on Vets 24/7...
..Lance has a checkup with heavyweight, Tyson.
I'm a sucker for a nice iguana.
Down on the farm,
Imogen gets a backhanded complement on her handiwork...
It's amazing what these young girls can do these days.
..and David prepares Troy, the Staffy, for life-changing surgery.
It's a fairly tricky op.
It's certainly something you don't want to be doing unless you
you've done a few of these before.
From Swansea to Neath and the pets that they treat,
on duty night and day with the veterinary surgeons
of one of the largest practices in South Wales.
This is Vets 24/7.
The St James veterinary practice has been caring for all creatures
great and small for over 100 years.
The latest recruit to the team is Imogen Potter.
She qualified as a vet just three months ago.
Why I wanted to be a vet was, well, a general love of animals, unbeknown
to my mum who doesn't like... She's not so keen on the whole
animal things but turned out I get it from my gran who had every
animal in her house.
Farm animals account for nearly a quarter of the vet's workload.
Today, Imogen has been called out to Middleton Hall Farm in Rhossili.
Hiya, hi, I'm Imogen.
So, it's all these guys, is it?
-And we just put the worst one in there.
Put the worst one in there.
Farmer, Brian Beynon, is worried that an infectious cough may be
spreading through his prize herd of cattle.
And he wants some quick results.
So, have you got a diagnosis yet?
-They've probably got a touch of pneumonia if they're all coughing.
I'll have a listen to all their lungs.
If they've got a temperature, I'm going to give them some
What should the temperature be?
It shouldn't be above about 39 and this is 39.7... Eight.
She looks too young to be a vet.
I'm definitely older than you think.
You said that. How long have you been qualified?
-Qualified three months.
-Three? Oh, gosh.
-This is work experience.
An infection like this can be contagious and financially
disastrous for a farmer.
The most difficult job we do is rearing these calves.
As you can see, they were all fit and well a week ago.
Now they're all coughing and spluttering.
There's one calf that's showing worrying signs of sickness.
As you can see, he's breathing really quite fast, there.
He's not very well at all.
I can tell that just by looking at him and also listening to his lungs.
He sounds like he's got a bit of a tractor going on in there
rather than actually lung sounds.
Even when they're coming through, they're not all coughing.
In a bid to halt the spread of infection,
Imogen's strategy is to treat the entire herd rather
than just those showing symptoms.
The best thing you can do is just to, sort of, blanket treat as
a herd and hope that they get better like that, so...
She's done what she can do. It's up to them, now.
There's only just three out of the whole lot that are breathing heavy.
I get that every morning, so it's nothing to worry about.
The vets work out of six practices covering around 300 square miles.
At the Neath branch, one of the UK's leading exotics vets,
Lance Jepson, has a heavyweight visitor.
-OK, right. So how has Tyson been?
-Yes, really good.
Let's have a look at him on the table, there.
Tyson, the iguana, recently had surgery to remove a growth
and Lance needs to remove the stitches.
That's looking good.
Removed a small lump from Tyson.
I have got the results, by the way.
So just sticking with this, there's a scab, there.
At some point that scab will come away.
It's already lifting up a bit, there.
OK? But we'll just let come away of its own accord.
She's going to be left with a little scar, there, which will probably
shrink down. OK? So that's that.
That's fine. Yes, you are gorgeous, aren't you?
-I'm a sucker for a nice iguana.
I'm a sucker for a nice iguana.
INTERVIEWER: He's amazing. How long have you had?
-Does she need walks?
-I take her on a leash, yeah.
I take her on a leash. Yes, she's really good.
Around the block?
Round by the castle, so she goes over there and the bank and stuff.
She goes in the garden in the summer. Yes, she loves the sun.
The result is it's not cancerous.
I'm really glad it's not cancerous.
It's not cancerous so we can put that to bed.
Let's see how we get on.
-She's looking really good. Really pleased with her.
-Thank you very much.
Not all pets can make it to the vets.
There you are.
I'm off to pick up Lucy, so I'll see you in about 30 minutes, OK?
-OK, see you later.
-See you later. Bye.
Senior partner, Dai Roberts, has served the practice as
a vet for 35 years, so he knows his clients and his patch well.
I feel like Postman Pat.
Hope I don't look like Postman Pat.
We're off to see an old couple who are fairly disabled and are
unable to bring the dog down to the surgery,
so they've opted for us to go and pick Lucy up.
Hello. Looks like quite a character to me, to say the least.
-Come on, let's get inside out of the rain, is it?
-Let's get inside out of the rain.
Mr and Mrs Richards have booked their labrador, Lucy, in to have an
operation to remove a lump on her rear.
-She's very friendly.
-Yes, she is.
-She's looking well.
Possibly a little bit too well.
There's the little lump under there.
Quite a thick base but hopefully we'll be able to remove it
without damaging the area too much because, obviously, it's an
important area. We don't want her to lose her continence, there.
That shouldn't be a problem.
-She's not as young as she was but she's only ten, yeah?
Ten's about my age in dog years, you know,
but it's her weight I'm concerned about.
-Whatever we do with her, we'll bear that in mind.
We'll keep her in tonight and hopefully one of the nurses can
bring her back tomorrow.
We'll look after her for you, I promise you that.
-Oh, I know you will.
-She's in safe hands, that's the main thing.
-Everybody loves her, you see, including us.
There you are, all the best, then. We'll be in touch.
Thank you very much indeed.
-One, two, three.
-There you are.
They're so trusting, labradors, which is nice.
As Dai returns with Lucy to the practice hospital...
Last speed bump, Lucy. Sorry.
..new recruit, Imogen, is continuing her farm visits.
The road to becoming a vet hasn't been an easy one.
Because I'm dyslexic, I didn't get amazing AS-levels
to the point where I wasn't predicted high enough grades
to be able to apply to uni to do veterinary first time round.
So I decided this is what I wanted to do,
so deferred a year and decided to reapply once I had my A-levels.
Luckily, Bristol gave me a place.
In terms of spelling, yeah, it takes ages but most vets can't
spell that well anyway, I've noticed.
Imogen's next stop is to a farm where a cow has recently calved twins.
-These two, is it?
-Good size, aren't they?
-Yes. No wonder she was like she was.
-Yeah, definitely. I think I'd give up, too.
But it's the mother that Imogen has been called out to see today.
Right, then. So she calved Sunday, you're saying.
You had to give her a little bit of the hand.
Farmer, Stephen Thomas, is concerned that the cow hasn't delivered
the placenta since giving birth.
She had two big twins and then what happens is, basically, she
hasn't got any energy to push out the rest of the placenta.
Thinking humans, they call it failed third-stage labour.
They're meant to be able to cleanse everything properly.
The risk is that she can suffer from toxic shock from this because
there will be such a build-up of bacteria in here,
that she will slowly start to become very unwell.
-INTERVIEWER: It's good to have long arms in this game, is it?
So as a new vet, how many of these have you done so far?
As a new vet, not very many at all.
There we go.
Just want to make sure it's actually all complete.
-Got to check you've got it all out?
You make it look like the shape of a uterus inside out.
Imogen's postnatal checks are complete and the cow can
return to her calves.
Back at the Neath branch, exotics animal expert, Lance,
has another client.
-So this is Ben.
-Ben. Yes, this is Ben.
Ben, the giant rabbit, has a problem with his eye
and his owners Yvonne and Paul are keen for Lance to investigate.
-How old is he?
-It's nasty, isn't it, boy?
It's so thick at the bottom and really red and inflamed.
Just going to get the ophthalmoscope so I can have a look in his mouth.
OK, thank you.
And on the other side, boy.
What we need to do is sedate him, X-ray his skull,
so we can see what's happening immediately in front of this eye.
You are more wound up and worried with animals then you are
with your partner.
Look after him.
All right, thank you.
You can't go, boy.
Before the X-ray, Lance needs to flush out the rabbit's tear ducts
with a saline solution.
I think that's in.
Let's see what happens. All right, boy, I know.
Good boy. There's certainly a lot of resistance there.
All right, all right.
All right, all right, all right.
It's so inflamed that even though we've sedated him and even though
I've put some local anaesthetic on there,
it's obviously still very uncomfortable.
Rabbits have got to be actually quite upset to do that screaming.
That's a rabbit who's not very happy,
but that's the painful bit over now,
so we should be able to just X-ray him now and see where we're at.
This X-ray will shed some light into the cause of Ben's blockage.
To the left side, that's not looking too bad.
On the right-hand side, we've obviously got a lot of
soft tissue swelling there and we know because the eye's swollen.
The most likely thing, I think,
is that we've got an abscess forming which is getting bigger and
bigger and bigger and is actually damaging the bone.
I'm going to have to say,
I think the outlook for Ben isn't that good, but the next step is
going to be to talk to the owner and see what they want us to do.
At the practice hospital in Swansea,
senior partner, Dai, is preparing to operate on Lucy the labrador's lump.
This is my most relaxing part of the day now,
waiting for my patient to be brought in here.
But there are concerns about the procedure.
I think the anaesthetic is our major worry because her weight
isn't helping it.
It's just like the rest of us, if she's that fat outside,
there'll be fat around the heart and everything,
so, the quicker we do it the better, really.
It's a nasty little lump but literally just snip off the
skin and stitch it up.
I've separated from the muscles and things below it.
-What's the heart rate now? Still high?
-Still high, then.
Her heart rate has doubled.
It's obviously something that we are going to have to monitor and
in some of these speeds, it's always a good reason for speeding up.
We literally are trying to have her coming round as we're putting the
last stitch in.
It's a fine art but with Lucy, we'd rather her come round
too quickly then keep her too deep for too long.
You can turn her off, yeah?
So we're turning her off the gas now, just keeping her on pure oxygen.
That's fine. There you are, gang. And the little lump. Have we got it?
Thank you. Not very pretty but I think it's all off, anyhow.
Everything's gone very well and I think we're going to have
a singing labrador in a few minutes, do you reckon?
Lucy, come on. Hello. Tail wagging.
Obviously Mr and Mrs Richards are going to have great
difficulty keeping an eye on the wound and making sure it's
clean etc, so we'll send one of the nurses up there just to make
sure it's nice and clean.
In Wales, one in three of us owns a dog and pets are part of the family.
Come here, good boy, this way.
Ricky Patwell and his Staffy, Troy, are regulars on Swansea Bay beach.
Good boy, come on, then.
Troy became a major part of my life.
Growing up, I always wanted a dog and from having him from
seven weeks of age, nurturing him like a parent would nurture
their child, day in, day out,
I spend more or less every day with him.
You can have a bad day at the office or
a bad day in general and you come home and take your dog out for
a walk and your mind is clear and it's a great feeling.
But this is Troy's last trot for a while as
he needs major surgery to fix an ongoing knee problem.
This way, come on.
He's a boisterous dog.
As you can see, one leg is stronger than the other and even on
the footprints on the floor, he'll less pressure on his back leg.
Very nervous about the whole situation
so it is hard but if you want the better quality of life for
your animal, for your pet, then I think it is one of those
chances you need to look, and take, and go ahead with.
Troy's surgery is complex and won't come cheap.
At the practice hospital,
Orthopaedic Surgeon, David Steele, will be performing the knee operation.
Come through, come through.
Will it be like a straightforward procedure or...?
It is a relatively involved procedure because we do have
to cut the bone and move it across.
Unfortunately, his patella tendon, here,
is essentially, rather than running a nice straight line,
-is over to the side like this.
So almost every time he's bending his knee, this is trying to pull the
kneecap off to the side.
What we do is essentially we make a little cut down through the
bone, here, and move this piece of bone over here so that
instead of being off to the side like this,
-we line it up so it's straight.
It's always a risk every time we do this procedure but he's
a young dog, he's got good muscle bulk, he's fit.
You know, the odds are on his side.
-If he was mine, this would be what I'd do.
All right, thanks a lot.
I think it's like any person that owns a pet. You kind of...
I don't know, you have that trust and that loyalty with each
other and I won't be there holding his hand whilst
he goes through the operation, but I know he's in safe hands.
Down the corridor, newly qualified vet, Imogen,
-is taking a small animal clinic.
-There we are.
It's important for her to work across all parts of the
business before specialising.
This morning, she's got a mystery to solve.
Well, we weren't sure what boys or girls they were.
-We thought they were a boy and a girl initially...
-And then I thought they were both girls.
-OK. There we are.
They're gorgeous, aren't they? All right, sweetheart, there we are.
Hello. Oh, you're going to claw... You're going to climb?
-You're going to climb?
-Sorry, they love climbing.
Oh, definitely, kittens always do that.
So this is the one we know is a female, yes?
That's the bigger one, yes.
-Yes, there we are, good. You have a proper hand onto that one.
You're going to sleep in my hand, are you?
All right, sweetheart. There we go.
Yes, that looks like a little girl, as well, actually.
What I'll do, I'll double-check that one again because I
think this one is definitely...
-I think this one could be a boy.
Oh, right, OK.
I will double-check with the other vets but I'm pretty sure that's
a boy and that's a girl, OK? He's got a little penis, so...
-Could I just show you this kitten's back end?
-For the sex, yeah?
I'm pretty sure it's a boy but they thought was a girl.
-Yes, definitely a boy. Testicles.
-So the other one is a girl. Excellent.
-You are right.
-Yes, this one is definitely a little boy.
-They were all laughing at me because I double checked it.
No, no, definitely.
Two testicles and definitely a little penis, so that bigger one
is definitely a boy and the other one is a little girl.
-Cheers, thank you very much.
-Thanks very much.
-Thanks a lot.
No problem, bye. Bye-bye.
It's time for Troy, the Staffy, to be prepped for his knee operation.
It'll be complicated surgery for partner, David Steele.
What we're doing with this,
we're sawing through one piece of bone, moving that across.
There's always the complication of the bone may not heal.
You could have implants that can move.
It's a fairly tricky op and it's certainly something you don't
want to be doing unless you've done a few of these before.
Troy is expected to be in theatre for three hours.
Without this operation,
he'll be facing the future of arthritic pain and disability.
You can see that movement, there. That's what we're trying to correct.
So, we're just deepening the groove, now,
and that just gives the kneecap a deeper track to run in.
OK, so already that's better, so that's the leg fully extended and
I'm pushing that and the kneecap is not actually going out of the
groove any more.
Whereas before it would've been flipping out sideways.
Now it's relatively firm.
That's just because we've deepened the groove. OK.
This is just a little pin just to hold it in place.
That's pretty good. Happy with that.
You can see instead of this angle, here, we're nice and straight now.
We're moving nice and smooth.
An X-ray will confirm that Troy's kneecap is set in the correct position.
These are the two pins which we've put in,
which are essentially holding the piece of bone, here, in alignment
and then this is a figure eight tension band which is essentially a
wire to counteract the muscles pulling this way, and the wire
counteracts the pull so that the kneecap, here,
stays exactly where we want it to be.
Once it heals, he should be feeling a lot better.
Hello, how are you?
At Neath, Ben, the rabbit with the abnormal growth,
is back in for a checkup.
He's looking a lot fitter himself.
His owners have made the decision to keep him comfortable at home
for as long as they possibly can.
We're happy, I hope Lance is happy.
I'm always happy, me.
He's had no ill effects from the sedation or anything last time?
No, I think he looks better.
There is more of the eye showing.
It's not quite as swollen as it was.
We know there's a nasty infection there because we've cultured it,
we've got him on antibiotics. Hopefully that's the whole story.
As you know, I have suspicions there's more going on there but
I'm more than happy to be proved wrong on that.
Do you know when Lance says them words,
it's like winning part of the lottery.
There's a little bit of both there. Not completely negative.
I want to prove Lance wrong.
So do I. I want you to prove me wrong.
-I do, Lance.
-I don't... Yeah, I do want you to prove me wrong.
It's like having a baby. He's only a baby.
Likes to be carried everywhere.
-Right, thank you.
-OK, thank you. Take care.
-I'll open the door for you.
-Like a gentleman.
-I must get a new one.
Experience says that even if it is just that infection,
it's still, you know, there's still an uphill struggle and there's still
lots of things that can go wrong but, to be fair, there is
a definite improvement there, so hopefully that will continue.
Since Ben's diagnosis, owner, Yvonne,
has given him an upgrade from his garden hutch to the penthouse suite.
Are you OK? Hello. Hello my little angels. Hello, Toff.
I'm going to clean your eye out, now.
Then you can go back with Toffee. OK?
The reason I chose to keep him as he is and just give him love and
care and attention he needs, is because if it is cancer,
they couldn't do anything anyway.
It's like when my husband has cancer,
he's in remission at the moment, I didn't put him down, did I?
I'm not going to put my rabbit down either.
So, I love and cared for him.
Sometimes I get more love and care from my rabbit than my husband.
-What did you say, boy?
Yeah, I know where I am in the pecking order.
I always help my handsome.
I'm going to make sure I get all the crust off and all the white
out from his eye. There it is, it's coming now.
We're just going to make sure that he's happy, comfortable, loved
and I'm hoping one morning I'll wake up and his eye is back to normal.
There you are.
At the practice hospital,
Ricky has come to collect Troy who had knee surgery just 24 hours ago.
Good boy, Troy. Good boy.
I'm excited but I'm also nervous just because I've got to keep
him very well tamed and I can't let him jump and the thing is,
if he does do anything,
it's kind of going to have a reverse effect on his operation,
so I think the next six weeks is going to be hard for him but
in the long run, it'll be a million times better.
There we go.
That's fine. Oh, having an excited wee.
Don't worry, we'll sort that out. That's fine.
I'm glad the operation went well.
I thought he was going to be literally upset, but the fact
that you can still see his character,
considering he's going through a lot of pain, as well...
Will definitely be chilling out just spending father and
son time together.
Isn't it, Troy?
Six weeks after his surgery and Troy is able to enjoy his walks again.
The operation has been a complete success.
On Gower, Imogen is returning to Middleton Hall Farm.
It's a month since she treated the herd of coughing cattle.
So we're just going to go up now and see how they're doing, check
their chests and make sure there's no residual infection left there.
Unfortunately, the very sick calf didn't survive.
So how have you been getting on, then?
Yes, apart from the one that we lost,
-the rest haven't looked back really.
-Good. I'm happy.
-Not a cough or anything.
-Oh, fantastic. I'm pleased about that.
-Whatever you did.
-Whatever I did.
-Yes, do you want to catch one of these?
-Yes, we'll have a look at one of them, definitely.
Do you want to catch one, James?
This is my kid's favourite one. They've named this one.
Out of all the cattle we've got, they've named this one.
-What is this one's name?
-Out of all the names.
-Oh, thanks, Roxy.
I think you're doing really well. No concerns about this calf.
She's really fit and healthy and also very soft.
I haven't heard a cough yet, so that's really good,
really pleased with that and how they've come round and everything.
It's amazing what these young girls can do these days.
I had to say that.
Not very good at giving banter.
Half the time I just pretend I haven't listened to whatever they
are laughing about because my the stethoscope has been in my ears
but, no, it's good. It's a nice side of it.
The BBC cameras return to capture life 24/7 at one of the largest veterinary practices in South Wales. For over 120 years St James Vets have been treating all creatures great and small. In this episode, newly qualified vet Imogen attempts to treat a herd of coughing calves, Troy the Staffordshire bull terrier is booked in for orthopaedic surgery, and exotic specialist Lance treats Tyson the heavyweight iguana.