Corporate VS Private veterinary groups…

Did you know here at St Clair Veterinary Care we are a privately owned modern, friendly, small animal practice.

blog pic 2
A lot of large veterinary practice groups are corporate owned. This often means that they have numerous veterinary practices trading under different names. It also means they have large targets to reach, and have certain “dedicated “products that their Veterinary surgeons are “advised” to use. In turn this means that not only must they add a large mark up on their products and services, but they must also reach the targets set out for them by the corporate owners. Many of these corporate companies have little outright knowledge of how a veterinary practice is run. It is also sometimes hard to maintain continuity of care for your pets, as they have so many different vets employed by them.
Here at St Clair Veterinary Care, we are a small friendly, family orientated practice. Our senior Vet Rory has years of experience, and has in the past worked for a large corporate group. Because of this, Rory prefers to tailor every treatment to each individual animal, after all each animal is an individual. This means not only can we offer the best services and treatment plans for your pets, but your pets will also have continuity of care. We have a dedicated experienced nursing team who run daily clinics offering advice on many aspects of your animals care. We have a state of the art operating theatre and also digital x-ray and ultrasound scanning and a fully equipped in house laboratory, as well as offering round the clock care at an experienced out of hour’s provider.

blog pic
Because we are a privately owned practice we don’t have the need to put a high mark-up price on our products and services to provide good returns for shareholders, which means we can offer you fantastic veterinary care at an affordable price. To find out more about our products, services and clinics, call in and have a chat with our friendly staff – we may even throw in a cup of tea and a biscuit.


Recognising and Treating Stress in your Pet

Anxiety and stress is common in our companion animals and some pets are more prone to this than others. Some of the signs of stress, particularly in cats, are unusual and owners will often misinterpret these signs of stress as a clinical problem. Some of the signs of stress can go on to cause a clinical problem if the underlying stress is not managed appropriately. The following signs could indicate that your pet is stressed:-

• Shaking      • Biting/scratching          • Foot licking          • Hair loss         • Altered sleep patterns            • Altered eating patterns

• Vomiting           • Diarrhoea             • Increased heart rate           • Blood in the urine              • Changes to toileting habits

• Increased respiratory rate           • Salivating         • Panting            • Increased blood pressure           • Vocalising

• Dilated pupils

This stress can be short lived, usually due to temporary changes such as;

• Changes to a pets home environment such as building work or a relative coming to stay
• Temporary changes in a pet’s external environment such as fireworks
• Changes in the weather such as thunder storms or unpleasant weather

Or it may be more long lived due to more permanent changes in a pets environment such as;

• New cat in the neighbourhood
• New pet in the household
• New person in the household e.g. new partner or new child
• Change in house
• Change in household routine e.g. caused by new job or altered working hours

For pets that are experiencing temporary changes and this associated stress, there are short term solutions to help. There are plug in diffusers and medications to help allow the pet to cope to these temporary changes and they usually work best if provided a week or so prior to the anticipated stress. If the stress is becoming a phobia in these temporary situations, it is still worth considering referral by a veterinary surgeon to an association of pet behavioural councillors accredited behaviourist for behavioural modification therapy that will help to reduce the source of the stress. The common example of this would be firework phobias, if temporary solutions are used each time, the phobia tends to get worse and a pet may start to become fearful of other loud noises such as thunder or traffic at which point behavioural referral is likely to be required alongside stronger drugs with greater side effects.

Longer term stress can be more difficult to treat as new members of the family or new houses are not as easy to change. Behavioural referral is a good option in these conditions as there are often small changes that can be made to your routine that will help your pet cope with the changes and come to terms with this long term change. Some of the short term medications can also help in the short term to help the pet cope and there is also a diet that may be more appropriate in the medium to long term for animals that just have a nervous disposition to everything.

The drugs we tend to use for behavioural therapy tend to be mild calming drugs that are used as nutritional supplements.
Zylkene is the most common and consists of a concentrated milk protein. In the 1930s the anxiolytic properties of milk were studied on people based on the observation that “drinking milk at bedtime made one sleep better”. Zylkene is a concentrated form of the protein in milk that has this calming effect but without the other proteins in milk that a lot of pets are intolerant to.



Cystease is a medication we use in cats with chronic bladder problems. As these problems are often secondary to stress it doesn’t only contain a drug to help the bladder, it also contains L-tryptophan, which is a precursor of serotonin (which some people call the “happy hormone”). This drug plays an essential role in the regulation of mood, anxiety, sleep and appetite so can often help an animal cope with their underlying stress.

download (1)

Royal Canin produce a CALM diet. It is a complete dog food that contains both of the above drugs to help calm a patient without the need to administer any medication. It works best if given for a week or two prior to expected anxiety and can be used to replace the current diet your pet is being fed. It is a little more expensive than a normal commercial diet but it does contain the two calming medications along with added vitamin B3, which can also have a calming effect.



If you are having concerns about stress in your pet, please contact the surgery on 01670 457271 and we can arrange an appointment with our veterinary nurse who can discuss your options with you. Your pet does not necessarily have to put up with a stressful situation, there may be something you can do to help them.



Natasha Banks RVN – Registered Veterinary Nurse/Clinical Coach


I began my career in veterinary nursing as a Student Nurse in a large veterinary hospital in 1998. Once I qualified as a Registered Veterinary Nurse in 2004, I continued to work at this practice where I gained lots of valuable experience in different aspects of veterinary nursing. I have grown particular interests in surgical nursing, radiography, animal behavior and nursing clinics.

I joined the team at St Clair Veterinary Care in December 2013 after the opportunity of Head Veterinary Nurse arose.  I knew St Clair had an amazing reputation and having worked with Rory before, I couldn’t wait to be a part of it.

I am also Clinical coach to the student veterinary nurses, supporting and guiding them during their training.

I grew up around animals large and small,  and was lucky to spend a lot of my childhood travelling. I have lived in places such as the Philippines and India where my love of animals grew even stronger.

As well as being a wife and mother to 3 angelic boys, I also own a scruffy Border Terrier called George.