Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions for pet owners

Client Area FAQs

  • HSR is a referral only hospital. In order to book an appointment with us, you first need to take your pet for a consultation at your local veterinary practice, who will assess your pet’s condition and consider if referral is deemed necessary. In many cases, your local practice will have the expertise and equipment to treat your pet’s condition effectively. However, in more complex cases, they will suggest referral to us if they consider this to be in your pet’s best interests. As is the case in human medicine, you may also request a referral, and in such instances your local practice will usually be more than happy to arrange this for you. Ahead of your initial consultation at HSR, your referring vet will send us all the medical history we need; we will then contact you directly to book your appointment and begin your referral journey.

  • Before bringing your dog for an appointment, please speak to one of our Client Care Assistants to let them know of any concerns, we will then be able to discuss a plan of action after conferring with the hospital team. In certain cases, we may be able to assess your dog in the car park; this can help ease the stress of being in an unfamiliar environment.

  • Once you have had an in-person consultation with one of our specialists or physiotherapists, they will then be more than happy to give follow-up advice over the phone if required; you may also send us photos and video footage to assist with any future advice. Please note that, not all advice can be given remotely and may require further physical examination.

  • We are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Our Client Care Team are available from 08:00 – 20:00 on weekdays and 08:00 - 16:30 on weekends.

  • In emergency cases, surgery will often be performed the same day. For routine cases, we will book in necessary surgery at the earliest availability, after the consultation.

  • Yes, you are very welcome to have check-up appointments and follow-up x-rays performed at your local veterinary practice. We are always happy to review these x-rays for free if your vet would like our input. We do advise owners to bring their pets back at HSR around the six-week mark where possible, so that the surgeon can physically examine their patient to see how they are getting on.

  • We usually keep our patients in for one night following routine surgeries. This is so that we can monitor their condition and comfort and administer any necessary pain relief. Length of stay in the hospital is dependent on the procedure performed and the pet’s recovery; more complex surgeries, such as total hip replacements and spinal surgeries, often require additional hospitalisation.

  • Staying at the vets is rarely easy for pets, which is why we have paid great attention to the design of our kennels and dedicated cat ward. Each kennel has a glass door, enabling pets to stay in a bar-free atmosphere, including our extra-large walk-in kennels. The lighting and ventilation systems provide as much natural light and fresh air as possible to keep the environment fresh and relaxing. We have set aside quiet kennels for more nervous patients and have installed a Sonos™ sound system for those pets who prefer to have the radio on for background noise. We have a modern, glass fronted lift for dogs who are unable to climb stairs, to allow easy access to other areas of the hospital.

  • For orthopaedic cases, we generally look to obtain our own radiographs as we can then calibrate them to our specialist equipment here at the hospital, which is an important factor in surgery success. Our radiographs are taken with surgical correction in mind, this requires very specific angles and image quality that is not always achieved by the images taken at referring veterinary practices.

  • Recovery rates vary for each patient and depend on a variety of factors such as, the type of surgery performed, and the standard of aftercare provided. We have our own rehabilitation team at HSR who can tailor a recovery plan for your pet alongside the clinical team. This plan will provide you with the assistance you may need once your pet returns home and is beginning their recovery process. We will also provide personalised discharge instructions to each patient once they are discharged from our care, aiming to guide you through the initial recovery process.

  • Whilst you will have already had a consultation with you referring vet, our specialists require a physical consultation to assess your pet with a specialist’s perspective; they will need to acquire information that has likely not been provided by your referring practice. This is vital in determining a plan for investigations and treatment for your pet. It also allows time for you to have any queries answered that your referring vet was unable to advise on.

  • Prior to your consultation with one of our specialists, they will study your pet’s history that your referring vet has provided us with.  During the consultation, the specialist will have a thorough discussion with yourself regarding your pet’s condition, prognosis, treatment options, and make a plan that suits you and your pet going forward, should you elect to have treatment here at HSR. This discussion can often take up to an hour and provides an ample amount of time for you to relay any concerns or queries you may have in regard to your pet’s condition. Following the consultation, your pet may then be admitted for further investigations and or treatment. Alternatively, you can go away and think about your given options before proceeding further.

  • When booking in appointments, we recommend that your pet is brought to us on an empty stomach, therefore having no food past midnight the night before the appointment (water is fine to be given). This is to give you the option of conducting further investigations (such as imaging) on the day on the appointment, should they be deemed necessary, and if we have the availability to do so. This is discretionary and up to you as to whether you would like any investigations to proceed. Should you wish to go away and think about it before admitting your pet to the hospital, that is also absolutely fine; we will not proceed with any plan without your full understanding and consent. Should you have any concerns regarding this, please speak to our friendly Client Care Team.

Insurance FAQs

  • Click here for more information about Insurance.

  • Some insurance companies are underwritten by the RSA Insurance Group, which has a favoured network of referral practices. Unfortunately, this list of preferred practices is full and for this reason, Hamilton Specialist Referrals is not yet on it. If you are insured with one of these companies you can still be referred to us and will still be able to claim back your pet’s treatments, but the RSA will charge you as the policy holder an extra £200 excess for going to a referral hospital that is not part of the RSA Referral Network scheme. We don’t think it is fair on our clients to be penalised for this, so we will deduct this £200 from the final bill. Please flag this up to our Client Care Team when you book your appointment.

Hydrotherapy FAQs

  • We tailor each session specifically for your pets’ requirements, as our treadmill has adjustable water height, speed, incline, and decline options. Prior to your pet’s session, we will do a full assessment, including a walk-up to assess movement and review gait analysis. We then shower your pet and apply a suitable harness before entering the treadmill. Our team provide a hands-on approach throughout the session, which enables us to assess patients and put them at ease. We are also able to assist in limb placement and use resistance bands to aid gait re-training and strengthening. Post-session aftercare includes a warm shower using natural shampoo followed by a towel dry, or optional blow dry, and lots of cuddles!

  • Patients can leave sessions feeling mentally stimulated; alternatively, they may feel an increase of energy and excitement. Please keep your pet calm and make sure they are kept gently mobile throughout the rest of the day to prevent possible re-injury or any muscular stiffness.

  • A session will last for 45 minutes, which includes assessment, showering pre and post session and drying, plus our handover with you.

  • Our water is heated to 30°C.

    We use chlorine as a disinfectant to keep the water clean and test the water multiple times per day to protect both your pet and the hydrotherapists from any risk of infection.

  • We advise no feeding within TWO hours prior to a hydrotherapy session. If medication is required with food, we do allow for a small amount to then be given, but it should be avoided where possible. No feeding until half an hour after your pet is home and settled. 

  • The hydrotherapy session will take the place of ONE of your pet’s walks for the day. Please do allow for a short toilet walk before arrival.

    • Conservative and post orthopaedic and neurology surgery.
    • Hip and elbow dysplasia.
    • Cruciate ligament rupture/repair.
    • Patella luxation.
    • Degenerative myelopathy.
    • Spondylosis.
    • Arthritis and mobility issues.
    • Fitness and weight loss.
    • Skin/eye infections.
    • Open wounds.
    • Urine infections.
    • Tumours (unless for palliative care).
    • Patient is non-weight bearing.
    • Contagious diseases.
    • External skeletal fixators.
    • Sickness and/or diarrhoea.
  • Hydrotherapy is a form of therapeutic exercise which is carried out in warm water. Hydrotherapy relies on the many properties of water, which all have effects on the tissues of your pet and how they move. The warmth of the water will help to relax your pet’s soft tissues, reduce pain and allow for a greater range of movement of joints.

    The buoyancy of the water allows your pet to exercise in a partially weight bearing environment, which reduces the concussive forces through their limbs, allowing them to move through greater ranges of motion with reduced pain.

    The hydrostatic pressure of the water provides enhanced proprioception to pet’s paws and limbs and assists in blood circulation and helps to reduce swelling and pain.

    The resistance of the water will help to strengthen muscles, and the turbulence of the water caused by movement will also aid in proprioception, stability, and strength.

  • Hydrotherapy initial consultation is £76.49, and a hydrotherapy follow-up is £63.69.

  • This will depend on the terms of your insurance policy and how the insurance company defines hydrotherapy. Check with your insurer to clarify your policy and check if you need to get pre-authorisation for hydrotherapy.

  • This is dependent on your vet and their referral. If your pet is a postoperative patient, hydrotherapy can usually start a few days after stitches or staples have been removed.

  • It is a common thought that most cats are averse to water. However, through applying appropriate hydrotherapy techniques and modifying handling to feline behaviour, many cats have adapted successfully to hydrotherapy. We have had many positive results when rehabilitating cats using the underwater treadmill. 

  • We will allow time for your pet to relax and become accustomed to the environment during their sessions. Some pets who appear to dislike water, can take to hydrotherapy very well; especially with our hands-on approach, lots of praise, reassurance, toys and treats for motivation.

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