What to expect

For some people having your pet referred to a Specialist centre may seem a daunting and emotional process; for others it might come as a relief. Our aim at Granta Veterinary Specialists is to try to make the experience as reassuring, straightforward and comfortable as possible for both you and your pet.

There are three stages once you and your vet have decided to make the referral appointment: pre-visit preparation, the appointment itself and the discharge or aftercare.

Pre-visit preparation

To make the pre-visit preparation as smooth as possible we will ask your vet to send us your pet’s history and any other relevant information (such as blood test results or X-rays). We require this to prepare for the consultation and our vets will already have a good idea of the problem before we meet you and your pet. We may also speak to your vet to streamline the transfer further.

We will also request the full details of any pet insurance you may have to enable us to process your insurance claim efficiently. Finally, we will send some questions relating to your pet. These will help us provide them with the best, individualised care if they are admitted into the clinic.

The appointment

Once you arrive, you will be checked in by our reception team. If you have a cat, you will be directed to our separate cat-only waiting area designed to minimise their stress. If you have a dog, you will be directed to the dog-only waiting area. We also have a “dog pod” for dogs who are nervous and prefer not to be around other dogs. In the summer, when the weather allows, you can sit outside if you prefer. We also have a tea and coffee machine available.

You will then be seen by the relevant clinician, depending on the service (hyperlink) where you have been referred, who will undertake the consultation with you and examine your pet. Following the consultation, most patients will be admitted for investigations and/or treatment that day, but the investigations/treatment may be deferred if appropriate, depending on the assessment of your pet by the clinician and after discussion with you.


The third stage of your journey is the discharge and aftercare. We will meet with you and once the paperwork and financial bits have been sorted, we will talk you through everything that we have done and provide you with a written summary to ensure you understand your pet’s treatment. We will also provide a full report for your primary care vet.

It is important to remember that once your pet has been referred to us for a specific condition, they will then be under the joint care of Granta Veterinary Specialists and your own vet for that specific condition. This means that following discharge we are very happy to be a point of contact or wish to see us again. We cannot, however, see you or your pet again for a different problem without your vet making a new referral.

The relationship between us, you and your own vet is a “triangle” with your pet in the middle. Each point of the triangle is equally important and a strong relationship is created between the three parties, with good, open communication being the key to success!

Who will be seeing my pet at my first appointment?

At Granta Veterinary Specialists, we allocate appointments with the relevant service  based on the information provided by your primary care vet. As a result, rather than your pet being admitted through a general admission service or by an intern, you will meet the clinician who is most likely going to be responsible for the care of your pet, as long as your appointment is within normal working hours.

We believe this is the best approach as you typically meet the clinician who will be treating your pet at the outset rather than your pet being automatically transferred internally to a clinician that you may not have met. However, although we make every effort to ensure that your pet will be allocated to the most appropriate service, on occasion a case may be transferred or referred to a different service if we feel this would benefit your pet’s management and care. In this situation, we will always communicate this to you, and you will always get a telephone or in person consultation at the time of transfer.

The clinician that is in overall charge of your pet is a specialist in their area of expertise (or specialist eligible) and unless an internal transfer is required, you will always meet that clinician at your first consultation if this occurs within hospital hours. This is our guarantee to you.

Will my pet be automatically hospitalised after the consultation?

Not necessarily, but your pet has been referred to us because they have a complex condition that your vet feels would be more appropriately managed at our clinic, or has a condition that you have specifically requested a referral for. This typically requires further investigation and treatments that are best carried out in the clinic. As a result,  most will need to be hospitalised with us for some time.

We understand that following your consultation, you may prefer to delay investigations and / or treatment and, as long as this does not have a detrimental effect on your pet, then we would be more than happy to postpone and reschedule.  However, if we do decide together that they need to be admitted, we will discharge them as quickly as appropriate. Furthermore, if you decide that after the consultation you do not wish to proceed with the recommended plan, then we will always try to find other management strategies that may benefit your pet. It is important that we work together.

How will you keep me informed of my pet’s progress during their stay?

Communication is a key part of our relationship with you and your vet. We aim to keep you informed on a daily basis whilst your pet is with us via telephone, text and/or email. Wherever possible, this communication will be from the clinician responsible for your pet’s care.

Where will my pet be staying in the clinic?

We understand that every animal adapts differently. Some patients are used to staying in kennels or pet sitters and are less anxious. Others have never left their own beds and naturally will feel more stressed in a less familiar environment. At Granta Veterinary Specialists, we will be admitting your pet to a dedicated species ward, so our feline patients have a completely separate ward to the dogs.

Every patient has their own dedicated kennel, including large walk-in kennels for larger dogs, and our cat enclosures are designed specifically to be compatible with ISFM Gold Standard cat housing. We will therefore do everything we can to make their stay as stress-free as possible.

Who will be looking after my pet during their stay?

We have a team of colleagues at Granta Veterinary Specialists that work around the clock to look after your pet. Each ward is looked after by a dedicated team of nurses and nursing assistants, who have specialist level expertise and are committed to the highest level of care. We adopt a fear-free approach to looking after your pet in our clinic. This means that we do all we can to minimise their stress and anxiety and we would be happy to discuss this with you at the time of your consultation.

To find out more about the people at the heart of looking after your pet please explore the team page.

What do I need to bring with me to my initial appointment?

As well as your pet(!), you need to bring all relevant paperwork, especially any insurance documents you have not already uploaded, along with any pictures or videos you have taken relating to your pet’s condition you think may be helpful. The more information we have the better.

Please also bring any medication they are currently taking. We have appropriate dog food for most conditions (e.g, kidney, urinary or liver disease) in addition to regular commercial dog food and we also have a dedicated patient kitchen to enable us to provide “home-cooked” food when necessary. Unfortunately, we are unable to use or accept raw dog food into the clinic and we are also unable to take in your pet’s bed or toys when they come in.

What do I need to bring with me to my discharge appointment?

As we do not admit any leads and collars belonging to your pet, please bring their own lead and collar in order to take them home. Clean bedding for the journey back would be beneficial and any comfort toys you know they like that will help them settle. We can of course always help you get your pet back into your car, but if they are used to using a ramp then please bring this with you.