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Services

We offer our patients a total package of healthcare

At Ark House Veterinary Surgery we offer our patients a total package of health care.

We welcome pets of all shapes and sizes including mice, rabbits, ferrets, budgies, cats and dogs.

You can find more details about our comprehensive range of services below.

To book an appointment or operation call 01525 373329 or book an appointment online.

  • Consultations and Referrals
  • Cardiology Specialist
  • Acupuncture
  • Neutering
  • Physiotherapy
  • Behaviour Consults
  • Vaccinations

Consultations and Referrals

Consultations:

During a Veterinary Consultation a full clinical examination is carried out by a Veterinary Surgeon together with a gathering of relevant information, an investigation and/or treatment plan as appropriate.

Follow up Consultations will often be recommended to assess the response to treatment or discuss progress and further investigation of the initial complaint.

Referrals:

We are happy to refer your pet to a suitable specialist.

Veterinary Surgeons will always keep your pet’s welfare a priority and will suggest referrals as appropriate. Please feel free to discuss this with your Veterinary Surgeon.

Cardiology Specialist

Andrew Francis BVSC, Cert VC, DipECVIM-CA (Cardiology) MRCVS European and RCVS recognised Specialist in Veterinary Cardiology. Andrew is a Small Animal Veterinary Cardiology Specialist.

Andrew began his veterinary career in mixed practice in north Cornwall before moving to Edinburgh where he completed his specialist training in Small Animal Veterinary Cardiology.

He was awarded the RCVS certificate in Veterinary Cardiology in 2007, and the ECVIM-CA Diploma in Cardiology in 2013. Since then Andrew has worked in specialist referral practice. Andrew visits Ark House Vets regularly.

He offers a full specialist cardiology service including diagnostic echocardiography, and treatment and stabilisation of patients with heart disease.

We are delighted that Andrew can offer specialist services to established cardiac cases as well as diagnostics for pets with signs of heart disease.

To book your pet’s appointment with Andrew please call 01525 373329.

Acupuncture

We have a trained Acupuncture Practitioner (who is also a Veterinary Surgeon) and welcome referrals for her acupuncture clinic at the practice. Appointments are mainly aimed at relieving pain from osteoarthritis or muscle spasm and acupuncture is often used in conjunction with other therapies to provide extremely positive results. Please contact your Veterinary Surgeon for a referral for these services.

Ark House is able to offer Acupuncture treatment for cats, dogs and rabbits for a variety of conditions. Acupuncture can be particularly useful in treating lameness and back pain often found in arthritic animals or those that have suffered injury.

Our Registered Veterinary Acupuncturist and Veterinary Surgeon Sarah Priggen runs a clinic on Tuesday mornings and other times by request.

For further information or to make an appointment please call 01525 373329.

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves placing special solid, very tiny needles in the body at certain places.  Exactly where the needles are placed depends on what we find when the patient is examined, and on the condition being treated. The needles are far finer than the ones we use for giving injections, only about the thickness of a hair!

How does it work?

It works through the nervous system. The needles block the pain messages by triggering the release of various chemicals and neurotransmitters and by encouraging the brain and central nervous system to produce more of the body’s natural painkillers.  In conditions that are not painful, acupuncture may help to reset the body’s normal functioning.

Is it effective?

In our experience, acupuncture is very effective, especially for treating painful conditions. No treatment is always effective in all patients (not even drugs!).  About 80% of patients respond well to acupuncture.

Will it hurt my pet?

Acupuncture needles stimulate nerves which do not cause the unpleasant feelings of pain. They stimulate different nerves which send a message to the brain which takes priority, which is how they block pain.  Most patients accept the fine needles very well and some even become relaxed and sleepy during the treatment. Often, they appear to look forward to the next treatment when they come back to the practice.

Would my pet need to be sedated for this treatment?

It is very uncommon for animals to need to be sedated. This would only usually happen if they were so painful that any touch or stimulus causes them pain.

What conditions can it be useful for?

  • Arthritis
  • Back pain
  • Muscle and ligament sprains/strains/spasms
  • Any other condition in which pain plays a part
  • Lick granulomas

It can sometimes also be useful in a range of non-painful conditions – feel free to discuss your pet’s individual problems with us.

How often would my pet be treated?

The usual course is once a week for four weeks. After four weeks we will know whether acupuncture is working for your pet and then, depending on the condition and how they have responded, we will work out a plan that usually involves tailing off the treatment frequency. Usually the frequency is reduced to about once every 3-4 weeks.

Is acupuncture safe?

Acupuncture is very safe, in the right hands. Legally it must be performed by a Veterinary Surgeon. There have been no official reports of problems in animals, but there are very occasionally problems in humans treated with acupuncture (which could usually be avoided with care and a good knowledge of anatomy).

What to expect

The initial consultation and acupuncture treatment will take up to 40 minutes. Your pet’s history and symptoms will be discussed, and they will be thoroughly examined. Subsequent treatments will take 20-30 minutes.

The first treatment will involve the placement of just a few needles for about 10 minutes, since the first time they have acupuncture we do not know how sensitive they will be. There is not a set “dose” of acupuncture as there is for medication, so your vet will judge how much to do based on your pet’s response both at the time and after the treatment.

It does not matter if your pet moves around or lie down during treatment! Many pets become very relaxed and dozy during or after treatment.

Some pets will be much improved after just one treatment session, but it is more common to see a gradual improvement over a period of time.

Acupuncture can be used alongside conventional drug treatment, or on its own. There is no need to stop ongoing medication (though if the acupuncture works really well, you may find that they no longer need painkilling drugs!)

What response will I see?

Your pet may show one of three responses to treatment:

  1. You may see a good improvement. This can occur anytime in the three days after treatment. The signs that we are trying to treat may then return before the next treatment, but this is fine. After each subsequent treatment the effects should last for longer, so that after the initial course we can usually leave a longer amount of time between treatments.
  2. Occasionally they may seem a little stiffer or more uncomfortable initially. This just means that the dose was a bit too much, but also shows that they should respond very well to acupuncture. After a day or two they will improve again and should be better than before. However, you must tell your vet so that they can adjust the treatment next time.
  3. You may see no response. This is always disappointing but does not mean your pet will not respond; it may just be that they will take a little longer or that their improvement after the first treatment was too brief or small for you to see. We cannot say that they will not respond until after the fourth treatment. Not all animals or humans are acupuncture “responders”, but about 80% will be.

Cost

The initial consultation/acupuncture session is £65.00. Further treatments are £43.00 The vast majority of insurance companies are happy to pay out for acupuncture claims.

For further information or to make an appointment with Sarah, please phone the surgery on 01525 373329. If you are coming from another Veterinary Practice please ask your vet to refer your pet by calling 01525 373329.

Neutering

Cats

We advise neutering at 4 1/2 months of age for all male and female cats. This is based on advice from ‘The Cat Group’  – a collection of professional organisations dedicated to feline welfare including the Feline Advisory Bureau, RSPCA, Blue Cross, PDSA, ISFM and BSAVA (British Small Animal Veterinary Association). Neutering at this time reduces the risk of unwanted pregnancy and disease.

In females the uterus and ovaries are removed through a small incision in the tummy – it is similar to a hysterectomy in people.

In males both testicles are removed though very small incisions in the scrotum.

Dogs

Female dogs will usually be speyed 3 – 4 months after the end of their first season (which could be anywhere from 7 – 18 months of age depending on the breed and individual).

Male dogs will normally be castrated from 10 months of age but again it depends on the individual. Some dogs are much better left until older before they are castrated – please ask your Vet or Nurse, call the practice for advice and to book a free Pre-Neutering Check or book a free pre-neutering check online.

In females the uterus and ovaries are removed through an incision in the tummy – it is similar to a hysterectomy in people.

In males both testicles are removed though one small incision just in front of  the scrotum.

Rabbits

Neutering rabbits not only reduced the number of unwanted pet rabbits but also has many health and social benefits. Rabbits are social animals and should not be on their own and neutering will allow pairs or groups to live together more happily and without the risk of pregnancy.

Female rabbits are protected from common problems such as uterine cancer.

We recommend neutering male rabbits from 4 1/2 months and females from 5. Rabbits are routinely intubated during anaesthesia using isoflurane.

In females the uterus and ovaries are removed through an incision in the tummy – it is similar to a hysterectomy in people.

In males both testicles are removed though two small incisions in the scrotum.

We usually hospitalise rabbits overnight to ensure they are eating and passing faeces before they go home to you.

So what happens on the day?

You will be given (or sent in the post) our pre operative advice sheet to help prepare you and your pet for the day.

Cats and dogs need to have had nothing to eat since 8 pm the previous evening. You can leave a water bowl down overnight, but take it up first thing in the morning. Please make sure your dog has been out for a wee!

Rabbits do not need to be starved overnight and should have their usual access to food and water.

Cats and dogs are just with us for the day, coming in first thing in the morning and going home some time in the afternoon. If you work late you are welcome to collect your pet later on – we are open until 8pm.

Your pet will have 3-4 days of post operative pain killers to go home with after their operation, to ensure they are comfortable. Rabbits also go home with post operative pain relief. This is included in the price of the operation, as are the post operative check ups.

Your pet will be invited back for a post operative check 2-3 days after surgery to check  their wounds are healing properly.  Most pets also have another check at 10 days after the operation – cat castrates usually do not require this,

Our surgeons usually use a technique where the external sutures are ‘buried’. This means there are not usually sutures sticking out to irritate your pet! Occasionally there are external sutures which are removed at the 10 days check.

Physiotherapy

As veterinary surgical procedures and treatments continue to progress the need for animal physiotherapy is growing. We can refer you to a qualified, experienced Animal Physiotherapist.

A vital part of treatment and recovery for many human problems, physiotherapy is just as important in pets!

Sally Medcalf is an ACPAT Chartered Physiotherapist, an experienced human and animal physiotherapist and holds a Master’s degree in veterinary physiotherapy from the Royal Veterinary College. Sally is also a Grade 6 dog agility handler and an Agility Club Approved Instructor (ACAI), as well as teaching on the Canine and Equine Physiotherapy Training course (CEPT) accredited by Middlesex Uni. You can be sure that your pets are in very safe hands!

Does my pet need physiotherapy?

If any of these statements apply, it is likely that your pet would benefit from physiotherapy:

  • Recently undergone surgery, suffered an injury or an accident
  • Lost enthusiasm for playing and running or gets tired on walks
  • Reluctant to jump in the car or onto the sofa
  • Developed difficulty going up or down stairs
  • Become generally stiff or weak
  • Shown signs of tenderness to touch
  • Shown signs of lost mobility or function associated with old age or arthritis
  • Developed an unexplainable behavioural problem
  • Recently shown a loss of performance (competition dogs)

Pets of all ages can suffer from a variety of orthopaedic and neurological disorders and physiotherapy plays a vital role in the management of these conditions. Physiotherapy aims to provide pain relief, restore mobility and regain function. It can also increase the speed and quality of healing in wounds, muscles, ligaments, tendons and bones following injury or surgery.

Working and sporting dogs are susceptible to additional stresses and strains. Any loss of performance during the season should be investigated, to identify and treat minor musculo-skeletal injuries that have gone unnoticed, which left untreated cause more serious damage over time. It is also recommended that working dogs have pre and post season health checks to screen for minor injuries.

What will the treatment involve?

Pets referred for physiotherapy will be given a thorough assessment, from which an individual treatment plan will be prescribed. Treatment may include:

  • Manual therapies such as massage, stretches, and joint mobilisations
  • Electrotherapies such as laser, ultrasound, and electromagnetic energy therapy
  • Exercise programmes to stabilise, mobilise and strengthen.
  • A home programme to complement individual physiotherapy sessions

If you would like more information and advice or want to contact Sally for a physiotherapy assessment for your pet, please call Sally on 01296 622503.

Behaviour Consults

Behaviour consultations are available for those pets (or owners) who are experiencing behavioural problems.

Debbie Culley RVN, our Pet Health Adviser, is an experienced animal behaviourist who can offer help with a wide range of problems.

We offer one to one behaviour consultations for our clients at the surgery.

Ark House Vets clients are welcome to speak to their usual vet for an in house referral, book online or call us on 01525 373329.

Case Study:

Pepper was taught to ask her owners to go out by sounding a wind chime. Below is video from her first session.

 

Vaccinations

Vaccinations protect against diseases which are life threatening. Vaccinations have helped ensure that these diseases are much less common than they used to be. However, some are present in Leighton Buzzard and surrounding areas.

We see Cat Flu frequently and have seen cases of Canine Parvovirus recently both in puppies and older dogs whose vaccinations were out of date.

We advise vaccinating cats against cat flu, feline panleukopenia and feline leukaemia virus. An initial course at 8 and 12 weeks old followed by annual boosters is recommended.

Dogs should be vaccinated against parvovirus, leptospirosis, distemper, hepatitis and parainfluenza.

An initial course of injections 4 weeks apart (usually at 7 or 8 and 11 or 12 weeks old) followed by a final dose at 16 weeks old is recommended. We should see your dog annually to repeat the vaccines needed to keep them protected.

In addition, we would recommend all dogs have a Kennel Cough vaccine up the nose annually.

Rabbits should be vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease annually.

Book online

Why should I vaccinate?

Diseases that affect dogs

Parvovirus is a severe and contagious disease that’s often fatal. Parvo is the most serious infectious disease threat facing British dogs today. Spread by a virus which survives for many months in the environment, it causes severe vomiting and bloody diarrhoea. Once the cause of major epidemics, in recent years parvo has made an unpleasant comeback in many areas including the Leighton/Linslade area.

Leptospirosis is caused by a relatively common bacterium found in ponds, rivers, waterways and damp environments, spread through the urine of infected rats as well as dogs. It attacks both liver and kidneys and causes Weil’s disease which can be fatal in humans as well as dogs.

Infectious hepatitis is a severe and typically fatal disease that affects the liver. Now fairly uncommon in the UK thanks to vaccination.

Distemper is a highly infectious viral disease, debilitating and often fatal. Causes diarrhoea, respiratory problems and severe neurological signs. Now well controlled by vaccination, the main threat comes from abroad where the disease continues to occur.

Kennel cough – caused by more than one infection this is the UK’s most common infectious disease of dogs, being contracted anywhere that dogs are in contact – not just kennels. Some 65,000 cases of Kennel Cough were seen in UK surgeries last year. The disease causes a hacking cough that can persist for weeks. One form of the disease is protected against in the vaccination course and boosters. We also recommend the kennel cough vaccine up the nose annually to protect against Bordetella, one of the other causes of KC.

Diseases that affect cats

Feline leukaemia – causes tumours, anaemia and weakening of the immune system. It is spread from cat to cat in the saliva and other bodily fluids during grooming, feeding and fighting. We recommend vaccination for all cats except those truly indoor cats that never meet another cat and do not visit catteries. Annual boosters are recommended.

Feline panleukopenia – causes severe vomiting, anorexia and fever with a high risk of death. Spread in the faeces, the virus can persist in the environment for many years and can also be contracted from dogs. Vaccination should be included in the primary (kitten) vaccinations and first booster and thereafter every 3 years.

Cat ‘flu – is a widespread and common disease, causing sneezing, nasal discharge and ‘weeping’ eyes. Fever and an unwillingness to eat are common but a variety of other unpleasant signs can also occur. Spreading easily between cats, infection can persist for the rest of a cat’s life and a significant proportion will become carriers. Annual vaccination is recommended.

Diseases that affect rabbits

Myxomatosis is almost always fatal and causes much suffering. Common throughout the UK, it spreads from the wild rabbit population, usually via blood-sucking insects such as the common rabbit flea. The disease is widespread and is seen year-round, although the biggest risk period is late summer and autumn. Rabbits should be vaccinated annually.

Viral Haemorrhagic Disease is a viral disease which is also fatal to rabbits.  We have been able to vaccinate against the Classic form (1) for many years in a combined vaccine with myxomatosis. Recently a new Variant RHD (2) has emerged for which annual vaccination is recommended for most rabbits. Rabbits in high risk environments should be revaccinated every 6 months. The two vaccines must be given 2 weeks apart.

Why not combine your health check and vaccine visit with a Well Pets blood test?

Coming in for a booster is a great opportunity to have a Well Pets routine blood screen done to check for early signs of disease. We recommend all pets have a screen done to check for early disease and to establish a baseline to compare blood tests with in the future. Contact us for further information.