It’s everybody’s worst nightmare: At two in the morning, your beloved pet starts having a seizure. You’ve never seen an animal have a seizure before and you aren’t sure what to do. It’s scary to watch, and you’re worried there could be something seriously wrong. You really want some advice, so you call your vet.

Or perhaps you’re out for a nice walk with the family on a Sunday afternoon. As usual, your dog is ahead, rummaging through the bushes, but you hear a cry, and he comes back limping. There’s blood coming from somewhere, too. You panic and call your vet.

Legally, all vets have to provide emergency out-of-hours cover. However, this can be in the form of referral to another veterinary practice. Often many practices will share the same out-of-hours provider and they could be quite a distance from your usual practice, so it’s really important that you know your practice’s emergency out-of-hours arrangements before you need it. It can be stressful – for both you and your pet – travelling under such conditions.

Or perhaps your old cat has been diagnosed with heart disease. She’s in an oxygen tent, struggling to breathe, and the vets have placed drains into her chest to remove a build-up of fluid. But it’s closing time and the practice is about to close… what happens now? Some practices do not offer on-site vets and nurses to look after her, and once she is stable they would advise moving her to a hospital with 24/7 care.

As a Tier 3 Veterinary Hospital, we have volunteered to be inspected by the RCVS and they have declared that we have the highest standards of patient care. We have a surgery, imaging facility and inpatient rooms in order to look after our patients throughout the night and weekend when other veterinary practices are closed. This gives us the facility to take on more complex cases that need longer-term hospitalisation, without moving them back and forth to out-of-hours providers. And our excellent team of vets are prepared to see emergencies at any hour of the day or night.

We thought we’d give you a ‘night in the life of a vet nurse’ so that you can see just how important this service is.

“It’s 7pm. I’m on the night shift, so I’m clocking on. I can see already that the hospital is busy. Many of these patients are some that I recognise from earlier in the week, and I’m looking forward to hearing how they’ve fared throughout the day. Once I’m in my uniform I start the ‘rounds’- a short explanation of who’s who, and what needs doing throughout the night.

At 8.30, lots of medications are due. Most patients on twice daily therapy will have evening medications and it’s my job to go from patient to patient, ensuring everything is given. I have to cajole a reluctant shih tzu to eat (somehow they can always tell there’s a pill hidden in there, even in chicken!) but after a few cuddles she trusts me enough to let me feed her.

I’ve not quite finished the rounds when a patient is wheeled through from surgery. He’s a young Labrador, and he had to have his guts opened to remove a toy that was stuck. Why is it always Labradors? He’s been in surgery for hours, and it’s my job to get him comfortable, warmed through, and eating again. I sit with him when he comes around and let the surgeon know that he’s awake. Our 24-hour hospital means that even though he was diagnosed late this afternoon he didn’t need transferring or his treatment postponing, and he can be properly monitored through recovery.

We have a quiet patch for a while, and I get to spend some time with my patients, but around 10pm the first emergency call comes through. A cat has stopped urinating and is in a lot of pain. He’s lashing out in fear and distress, and needs a general anaesthetic to pass a catheter so that we can relieve the pressure on his bladder. The vet does a good job and the cat’s going to be fine – but he will need to stay in for a couple of days whilst the urinary catheter does its job. Thank goodness for round-the-clock-care! I run his urine sample over to the lab and check it for the vet, handing the results over on my way back.

The rest of the night passes in a blur of inpatient medications and emergencies. We have a euthanasia at around midnight – it’s a sad case that we had in the hospital for several days a few weeks ago. I got to know him pretty well when he was here and I’m sad to say goodbye, but I’m glad he’s somewhere he recognises, despite the late hour, and he wags his tail when he sees me.

As clocking-off time approaches, the hospital starts to buzz again. Fresh-faced colleagues come in to take over, and bring an influx of planned surgical cases with them. I help them get the new cases settled in, taking a special interest in those that will still be there when I clock back on tonight. One last cuddle with a favourite patient and I’m off home to bed.”

We love being able to provide gold-standard care to our patients, and we’re very proud of our RCVS accreditation- it’s a testament to our team’s passion and drive. Our fantastic hospital means that we can take on complex cases at any time of the day or night, provide full care to them throughout their time with us, and see the case right through to the end.

Our 24-hour cover is provided 7 days a week, 365 days a year so that you can rest easy knowing that you are in safe hands. Don’t hesitate to call us, no matter how ‘unsociable’ the time might be – that’s what we’re here for.