If none of the frequently asked questions that we have listed answer your query, please contact us and we will be more than happy to help you.

Although we are happy to deal with all patients and conditions we cannot see pets and their owners directly. We are a specialist referral hospital and all our patients have to be referred by veterinary surgeons. If you would like to have your pet examined or treated at NDSR all you need to do is to discuss this with your regular veterinary surgeon who will be happy to arrange this if appropriate.

The reasons for referral are various. In some cases your vet has made a diagnosis but feels the patient would benefit from treatment by a specialist who is more familiar and has more expertise with the condition. In some cases your vet has been unable to make a diagnosis and feels a specialist opinion is necessary. Sometimes a case requires specialist facilities to make a diagnosis or treat a condition which are not available in routine practice. A recognised specialist is the most qualified veterinary surgeon you can see for a referral.

An officially recognised veterinary Specialist is an individual who has had advanced training leading to Diploma status in their field of expertise and who also fulfils other stringent criteria, such as those regarding their involvement in clinical work and research, as well as other responsibilities including the training of others involved in the veterinary profession. Specialist vet status is extremely difficult both to achieve and to maintain, and it is the highest level of recognition of expertise that can be attained in clinical veterinary work.

Our Specialist vets have national and international reputations and most have written scientific papers, published in text books and regularly speak at local, national and international meetings. As well as offering continuing education to other members of our profession, our vets regularly attend scientific meetings in order to keep up-to-date in their specific fields of expertise. When required they travel to the USA and Europe learning new techniques and exchanging ideas with other international experts.

To help assess your pet it is important the specialist has the previous history, test results and radiographs relating to your case. Your vet may send these directly to us or ask you to bring them with you. Unless your pet is diabetic or less than 12 weeks old, your pet should not have food after 9pm the evening before the appointment. This allows us to start tests on the day that require fasting such as certain blood tests. Also your pet may need sedation or anaesthesia for certain diagnostic tests or procedures.

The specialist will take a thorough history of your pet’s problem from you. They will then perform a full physical examination of your pet and review the tests already performed by your veterinary surgeon. Based on the findings they will discuss the possible causes of the problems, further investigations required and possible treatments. The specialist will also give an estimate of costs involved in the initial investigation and treatment. You will be able to ask further questions and can decide if you wish to proceed with further investigation. Consultations last from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the type of problem you have been referred for.

No. Our initial role is to make a diagnosis and discuss what treatments are possible, together with their likely outcomes. There will be often several potential treatment options available that may be considered. We will try to provide a balanced view on all of your choices. This will hopefully allow you to make a decision about how you wish your pet to be treated. If we believe further treatment is not indicated then we will tell you so. Following this discussion you can decide if you wish to proceed with treatment.

The majority of patients referred to cardiology, ophthalmology and dermatology or seen for re-examinations are seen on a day patient basis. For most services patients will be hospitalised. This allows close observation and monitoring which can be helpful in diagnosis and treatment. Patients will commonly be admitted for 24-48 hours for routine investigations, treatment and surgical procedures. During your pet’s stay the specialist will keep you updated daily on any changes in your pets condition or test results.

It is also possible that your pet may need to go home after the consultation (possibly on treatment) and return for diagnostic or surgical procedures at a later, mutually convenient date. This depends upon the circumstances of the case and the current workload at the practice.

North Downs Specialist Referrals offers exceptional 24 hour in-patient care. We have veterinary and nursing staff on duty, on the premises and caring for in-patients 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Our patients benefit from continual monitoring and attention from fully qualified, trained veterinary and nursing staff, whether during the day, the night or on weekends and public holidays.

Please download our Local Amenities Information Sheet  (PDF File 1.05MB).

If your pet is hospitalised for a period of time then we are happy to arrange visiting where it would be beneficial to the patient. In certain circumstances we will advise against visiting where it would cause distress or interfere with a quiet recovery. Visits are by prior arrangement with the nursing staff who will book a specific time for the visit.

The costs involved in advanced investigations and treatments can be substantial. The specialist will give an estimate of the costs during your consultation. Medical investigations and treatment can be unpredictable and deviations from the estimate can occur. We will try to keep you updated and you are welcome to obtain a daily update from reception. We accept cash, cheques or most major debit and credit cards as payment. Accounts must be paid in full when your pet is discharged from the hospital.

You are entitled to ask for a prescription for any medications that we recommend for your pet. If you wish to do this, please bear in mind the following points:

  • This is not appropriate for in-patient medication or urgently required treatment.
  • For short courses of medication any cost savings are usually minimal.
  • A charge will be made for providing the prescription.
  • Many of the specialist drugs that we dispense are unlikely to be kept in stock by local pharmacists; filling prescriptions elsewhere often means that your pet's treatment will be delayed.
  • Many of the drugs stocked by your pharmacist are not formulated specifically for administration to pets.

For repeat prescriptions please give at least 48 hours notice as drugs may need to be to ordered from the wholesaler. We will ask for full payment for medications before they are posted or collected. We can only supply prescriptions for patients under our care meaning we must have examined them in the last 6 months.

Yes. Charges are made for every individual consultation and test. These costs are not included in the costs of the initial treatments and procedures.

As soon as your appointment is booked it is advisable to contact your insurance company and inform them you have been referred to a specialist. You will need two claim forms; one for your own vet to claim for any treatment already given and a second for us to complete for treatment given by us. You will need to bring the form with you when you settle your account in order that we can ensure your claim is processed and forwarded to your insurance company rapidly. For further information please download our Insurance Claim leaflet (PDF File 1.5MB).

We are happy to arrange direct claims subject to certain terms with insurance companies where the payment can be pre-authorised prior to the appointment. If you wish to have a claim pre-authorised you should contact us prior to the appointment as the process can take several days. There is significant administration time involved in this process so an administration fee is charged. It is your responsibility to check your policy limits and exclusions before your appointment. For further information please download our Insurance Claim leaflet (PDF File 1.5MB).

We always strive to provide the best possible care and service to pet owners.  We value feedback from our clients, both negative and positive.  If you would like to contact us regarding your experience, please email enquiries@ndsr.co.uk

Arranging a referral for your pet

If you would like to refer your pet to see one of our Specialists please visit our Arranging a Referral page.