Veterinary practices offer a large range of services though these may vary from one clinic to another. To find out more about the variety of practices, visit the are all practices the same? section.
Many clinics have open days or open evenings, which provide an excellent opportunity to see behind the scenes and find out first-hand about the range of services on offer.
They may also be a lot of fun for the family and a great opportunity to talk informally with the vets and nurses to get a "feel" for the practice philosophy.
Some clinics may be family orientated and provide learning experiences in a fun way for children.
Services offered in all clinics
All clinics will treat sick and injured animals, have a range of diagnostic facilities and provide necessary preventive health care programmes such as vaccination and worming etc. The promotion of positive health care initiatives may be done by qualified veterinary nurses.
Some clinics provide a 24-hour service on site – those that do not must make arrangements so that their clients can be seen elsewhere if necessary out of normal hours.
Most will be able to hospitalise cases though not all will provide 24-hour care on site. On site 24-hour care is a requirement to be an approved hospital under the UK's RCVS practice standards scheme; so look for the logo.
Medication and prescriptions
Most clinics have a dispensary on-site and can provide you with the required medications at the time of the consultation.
Written prescriptions can be provided on request. Legally, “prescription only medicines” can only be dispensed to animals in the care of the veterinarian. The pet must be registered with the clinic, and must have been seen within an appropriate period before repeat prescriptions can be issued.
Licensed veterinary drugs
Veterinary drugs undergo extensive testing and are licensed for quality, safety and efficacy. Your veterinarian is legally obliged to use these drugs if available. When there are no specific veterinary licensed drugs, other drugs can be used.
Some clinics will have laboratory facilities on site. This speeds up the diagnostic process and so will help your veterinarian to make crucial clinical decisions at an earlier stage.
The clinic may have veterinarians who specialise in particular fields, or they may refer difficult cases to specific specialist centres.
Most clinics employ qualified Veterinary nurses. These are not mini-vets but professionals in their own right. Their work complements that of the veterinarians. They perform a range of clinical procedures and provide clients directly with health care and nutritional advice. They also check routine postoperative cases during organised nurse consultations.
Obesity is a major problem in dogs, and can be associated with problems such as arthritis, heart disease and diabetes. “Weight-watchers” clinics provide a valuable way of helping you to help your dog shed those extra un-wanted kilos.
Some clinics organise “puppy parties”. These are designed to facilitate puppy development and socialisation as well as giving you advice on a range of health care issues.
Some clinics will use trained animal physiotherapists to facilitate the recovery from specific surgical procedures. This may also include referral to specific hydrotherapy centres.