dog receiving oxygen

Internal Medicine

This is the largest discipline in the Small Animal Hospital, and is delivered by a team of European Veterinary Specialists in internal medicine. Our medics work alongside fellow Specialists in neurology, cardiology, anaesthesia, surgery etc to ensure a holistic, multidisciplinary approach. We offer a free of charge advice service for referring vets.


Welcome to the Internal Medicine Service

We hope you find the questions below useful. There is also a list of more general questions in our General Info for Owners pages.


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What happens if I arrive after reception has closed?

We have extended our reception opening hours but if your vet has referred you as an emergency and you arrive out of hours, please use the phone outside the Small Animal Hospital Reception (which will be locked).

The phone is a direct link to our ICU, and one of the 24-hour staff will answer and arrange for you to be admitted.

If you have not been referred, we will give your pet first aid, but can only accept the case having spoken to your vet.




Will I see a lead clinician? 

Both our lead clinicians and our residents hold consultations.

You will be informed by reception which clinician you will be seeing when you arrive.

Rest assured, whichever clinician you see, the Medicine service works as a team and all cases are fully discussed and supervised by senior team members.

A resident is a qualified and experienced vet who, under the supervision of our lead clinicians, is undertaking advanced post-graduate training in order to achieve Specialist status.



How long will my appointment last?

Typically, your appointment will last 30-90 minutes.

As a teaching hospital we involve students in the initial consultation, and whilst this adds to the time, it means you receive a very thorough investigation of all the issues. However, please let us know if you have time pressures and we will try and expedite the process.

When will I hear from you?

We will normally contact you with an update within 24 hours of admission. It may be much sooner than that if we have reached a diagnosis or if your pet’s condition is deteriorating. So please make sure we have the best contact details for you.


Will my pet have to stay with you?

Occasionally medical investigations can be completed in a day, and of course many revisits are as out-patients, but the answer is probably ‘yes’; it is usual for medical cases to stay with us for at least one night. A logical diagnostic approach is to select tests based on previous results, rather than immediately doing every test in every patient. This can take more time, but is better than doing unnecessary tests. We will update you every day about the likely duration of stay.


How long will my pet stay with you?

It can be difficult to predict exactly how long your pet will stay with us, and it certainly depends on the severity of the illness, how quickly we can reach a diagnosis, and whether treatment can be given at home or not. Rest assured, we try to discharge every patient as soon as it is safe to do so, but we are happy to keep them here a bit longer to fit in with your availability for collecting your pet. We will always discuss the probable length of any stay with you before we admit your pet.


Can I visit my pet?

We would advise you think carefully about whether or not you should visit your pet, as we find it can be upsetting for animals when you leave again. However, if you wish to visit, please discuss this with the clinician either when we admit your pet, or when you speak to them on an update phonecall, and a mutually convenient time can be arranged around any procedures your pet may be having. There are times when we actually request you to visit as we feel either it may encourage your pet in their recovery, or if their stay is likely to be a long one, or unfortunately if the prognosis is grave and you need to see your pet again before it is too late.


What happens if I visit when reception is closed?

Visiting out-of-hours should only occur if pre-arranged with the clinician, in which case they will have organised where to meet you - if in doubt on arrival use the phone outside the small animal hospital reception door. We do have enough staff on duty at night to look after the patients, but they may not have time to chaperone visitors if we have a lot of emergencies arriving. If you turn up unannounced, we will try and accommodate your visit, but be aware you may have to wait.


Will my pet be left alone?

We have vets and nurses on duty 24 hours a day in our hospital. If your pet is critically ill in ICU there will be a staff member at their side constantly monitoring their condition. Healthier animals in wards will be observed repeatedly overnight to make sure they are OK, but we do try and let them get some sleep.


What happens at the discharge appointment?

When you come to collect your pet, we request you settle your account at Reception. You will then have a consultation with the clinician to discuss the case, to have any treatments explained and to answer any questions you have. At that point we will return your pet to you. From experience we know that as soon as you have your pet appears, you may be so pleased to see them, and they'll be so pleased to see you, that it becomes hard to take in what a clinician is explaining to you. So to reinforce our verbal instructions we will also give you a written summary with any required medications. A copy of this discharge summary will be faxed/e-mailed to your vet, so they know what has happened and that your pet is going home.


What happens if I or my pet has any problems after I take them home?

If you simply have queries about any treatments we would recommend you phone our Reception and ask for the clinician to speak to you or to call you back. If there has been a sudden deterioration in your pet’s condition at home, we recommend you speak to your own vet immediately, and if necessary they will refer him/her back to us.


What contact will students have with my pet?

As we are a teaching hospital, students will be involved in helping to look after your dog/cat. This will include general care of your pet, including walking, feeding and cleaning as well as assisting in taking blood samples, placing intravenous catheters and helping during surgical procedures. Students are supervised by qualified vets and nurses and are not allowed to participate in any invasive procedures without full supervision. As all pets in the hospital will have designated students, it means that each pet has a friend assigned to him/her that gets to know them very well and helps to settle them into the hospital.


You're a University - does that mean you'll experiment on my pet?

We do not experiment on any cases that come into the hospital for treatment. Our aim is to provide the highest quality of care for your pet and be equipped to offer the most up to date treatments and procedures available.  We do have ongoing clinical research trials to further our understanding of diseases and trial new treatment options. If we think these will be of benefit to your pet we may discuss them with you. At no time would your pet ever be entered into a clinical research project without your full consent. The clinical trials we have ongoing are varied but rest assured, all have undergone assessment by the Ethics and Welfare Committee at the University of Bristol before we are allowed to carry them out. If you have any further questions or concerns regarding this topic, please ask the clinician you see when you visit the hospital.