Everything you need to know about the supervet

31 August 2021 - 9 min read

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If you're a fan of Supervet you'll be pleased to know it returns to Channel 4 on Thursday 9 January at 8pm.  And if you can't watch it then, it's available to catch up with on All 4.

Running for four weeks, it features Fitzpatrick Referrals as they care for the poorly cats and dogs visiting the practice.

To catch up with all previous 23 episodes of Supervet, including the Christmas 2019 episode, you can watch them on All 4.

Episode 1

Screened on 9th January 2020, C4.

Brodie: Episode 1 begins with Brodie a Bernese Mountain dog, who lives in Devon with his owners Anna, Nathan and their baby Rosalie. Nathan is an ex – professional rugby player and him and Brodie love to play together. They’re best of friends.

The six-year-old dog arrives at Fitzpatrick Referrals with Sciatica, a painful bulging disc in his back that’s pressing on his nerves.

Brodie is unable to jump or go upstairs due to the pain and isn’t his normal self. Several rounds of steroids haven’t helped.

Brodie needs life-changing neurosurgery on his spine to relieve him of the constant pain, as no other treatment option has worked. Anna and Nathan decide to go ahead.

The operation is a success and after a period of recovery Brodie returns to his family home in Devon, to continue helping his owner Nathan play rugby.

Merida: Six month old Rough Collie Merida, named after the Disney Princess, has a lot of trouble walking, and even prefers to play while lying down. Her owners Gemma and Lewes are very worried and bring her to Fitzpatrick Referrals to find out what’s wrong.

A CT scan shows that the bones and joints in her front legs are deformed due to a growth abnormality. The operation to correct it is very complex and won’t resolve the problem completely.

The journey to health is long and complex - around four months. And living in Liverpool doesn’t make things easier for the couple. However Merida is their world, and they’ll do anything for her.

A complex five-hour operation on both legs is needed to help correct the deformity.

Merida undergoes the operation where a frame and plates are inserted to help pull the bones and joints into alignment and hold them in place.

During recovery a second operation is required, as Merida’s bones still aren’t responding in the right way. However, finally after two weeks of traction, Merida is allowed home.

All seems well, until nine months later Merida has to return. She’s developed an infection in both legs, and after seven rounds of antibiotics it’s still not cleared.

Gemma and Lewes are advised there’s no other option other than to remove the metal plates in her legs, from where the bacteria has seeded. This will allow her body to fight the infection naturally. Her bones are now strong, but there’s no guarantee her body will still be able to fight the infection.

Thankfully the operation is a success, and her body fights off the infection. Merida’s gait will never be completely perfect, however, she’s able to play every day, is pain free and behaving as a young dog should.

Elmo: Elmo is Hannah and Jess’s cat. Grumpy and vocal, Elmo is the boss. The six-year-old cat was hit by a car which badly fractured his back leg. Sometimes an injury that severe can result in amputation, but Fitzpatrick Referrals are able to perform surgery that will prevent that.

While under the anaesthetic, Grumpy will also be castrated, which should bring down his hormone levels, and stabilise his moods.

Post surgery, Elmo is even more grumpy. However the surgery has gone well, and Elmo goes home.

Six weeks later and Elmo is returning for his check up, and to the relief of Hannah and Jess, all has healed up well. He’s recovered and is given the all-clear.

The castration has also gone well, with Elmo being less grumpy and territorial. This is great news for Hannah and Jess who are now being treated to cuddles on the sofa from Elmo.

Episode 2

Hagar: Hagar is a 5 year old French Bulldog and arrives at Fitzpatrick Referrals unable to walk. He can’t even hold his weight – flopping back down onto the ground. Marie his owner is very concerned.

After multiple clinical examinations and an MRI scan, there's good and bad news.

The disc in Hagar’s neck has exploded, and its squishing his spinal chord, resulting in paralysis. In fact all the discs in Hagar’s back are dried out, and are also at risk of exploding.

However, with surgery to remove the exploded disc and alleviate the pressure on the spinal chord, he should make a fully recovery, as long as there are no complications. And many dogs also suffer with dried out spinal discs, from which this problem begins.

After discussion with her husband Albe, Marie decides to go ahead with surgery.

After a nail biting operation, Hagar seems to be recovering well, and nine days later he’s allowed home.

Fully recovered, Hagar is back to being an active, mobile, happy dog.

Lockie: Lockie is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier living in Herefordshire and suffers with a congenital issue Radial Head Luxation. He arrives at Fitzpatrick Referrals because he's become more lame than normal.

After a CT scan, his owner is advised that if the condition were to worsen surgery would be required. This would be to prevent Lockie’s front leg bones from growing any more abnormally and to prevent Lockie’s front paws from growing into a right angle.

At a CT scan four weeks later, its confirmed that the condition has finally worsened to the stage where intervention surgery is required.

Lockie undergoes surgery to help correct the growth abnormality, and ensure that his paws grow in the right direction.

The surgery is a success, and four days later Lockie is allowed to go home. However, he still needs to take it easy, so isn’t allowed to join the other three Staffordshire Bull Terriers in the family.

Finally by the end of the programme, Lockie is reunited with his whole family, and can play, run and jump with the other dog family members.

Nutty: Nutty the 14 year old cat is brought into Fitzpatrick Referrals after having been shot with an airgun. The bullet has shattered her leg.

His owners Emma and Rob are told that it's essential Nutty has immediate surgery to remove the bullet, as it could lead to serious infection. Surgery is agreed, and the theatre is prepped for emergency surgery.

After surgery to remove the bullet, the area is treated with medical grade Manuka honey, which is rich in antibacterial properties. This will help fight infection. Unfortunately, until the infection is cleared, no surgery can be performed to mend the shattered bones.

A month later, after regular checks, Nutty’s infection has cleared, and surgery can be performed to mend the bone breaks. Nutty undergoes a bone graft, taken from her pelvis, which is inserted around a rod in her leg.

The bone graft will induce older bone cells to grow, as well as produce new bone cells.

After recovering from the operation, Nutty is allowed home, although she needs cage rest. It takes three months before she’s allowed outside into the garden – where her owner Emma keeps a close eye on her.

At 14 years of age recovery is slow, as her legs have weakened through lack of use, however Emma is confident that with time, she’ll soon regain her strength.

The next episode of Supervet is screen at 8pm on 23rd January 2020 on C4.

Episode 3

Luca: Luca the Springer Spaniel arrives at Fitzpatrick Referrals with a limp. His owner Barbara explains that he had developmental elbow disease as a puppy, which needed surgery when he was one.  Now aged four he seems to be having walking problems again.

A CT scan reveals that splits have formed within the bottom part of the humerus in Luca’s elbows. These have a high fracture risk. In addition, there is pressure on his elbow joints, due to abnormal growth. Both conditions are very common in Springer Spaniels.

An operation is required to insert screws into the humerus bone in both front legs to hold them together. And the ulna in both front legs will also need to be cut to relieve pressure on his joints. An operation is scheduled in.

Sadly, before the operation happens, the split in Luca’s front left leg fractures due to the condition, and he requires emergency surgery.

Six weeks later when Luca returns for the scheduled surgery, the focus is on inserting a screw in his right front leg, and cutting the ulna bone in both front legs. No screw surgery is required on the left front leg due to the previous emergency surgery.

Once recovered from surgery Luca can go home, but needs complete cage rest, however six weeks later a worried Barbara returns. She’s concerned Luca has been in pain.

Discussions reveal that Luca hasn’t been having complete cage rest, and because his injury is healing slowly, this could threaten his recovery. Although thankfully on this occasion no damage has been done.

A few weeks later after following strict instructions Luca is recovering well and is taking a well earned swim in a country lake. Activity as agreed by Fitzpatrick Referrals.

Bow: Over in the Oncology and Soft Tissue hospital in Guilford, Beau is being brought in by Charlotte and Danny.

Seven month old Bow is leaking urine constantly, which she’s being doing since she was first brought home as a young puppy.

Charlotte and Danny are struggling to cope with keeping Bow clean and dry, and the home clean.

Bow’s existing vet has diagnosed an ectopic ureta, meaning that the ureta that usually connects to the bladder, is connected elsewhere in her body.

After a CT and ultrasound scan its revealed that the ureta on one side of Bow’s body is connected to her urethra, the final exit point for urine. At this stage there is no urine control, as this only happens in the bladder.

Minimally invasive laster surgery is recommended to fix Bow’s condition, although this only has a success rate of 50-60%

At first it appears as if the operation is a success, however a few weeks later Bow is back at Fitzpatrick Referral with the same problem again.

Bow is tested for infection and is placed on medication, and after this she's nearly fully recovered.

Now 95% of the time dry, Charlotte and Danny are finally able to relax and take Bow out to public places with confidence.

Iver: It’s Sunday afternoon and Iver is arriving as an emergency. He’s an 8 year old Newfoundland who is limping and whose head is moving from side to side.

Dan and Nicola have been told that it could either be a disc injury or cancer. They’re fearing the worst.

MRI scans reveal that it's thankfully not cancer, but a damaged disc that is pressing on his spinal chord.

Surgery is required to remove the damaged disk and to insert spacers within Iver’s vertebrae. These will relieve pressure on his spinal chord helping it to heal.  Bone marrow will also be inserted around the vertebrae to encourage it to fuse together.

At eight years old, Newfoundland's are considered elderly, with an average lifespan of eight to ten years. This is a big operation, for an elderly, brave dog.

Iver undergoes the operation, and three days later he’s up and about, although still wobbly. Recovery will be long and slow.

After six months of cage rest and lead walking, Iver is back to his usual mischievous self.

The next episode of Supervet will be aired at 8pm on 30th January 2020, C4.

Where is the Supervet practice?

There are two Supervet practices each with their own speciality.

Fitzpatrick Referrals Orthopaedics and Neurology is located in Eashing, Surrey. It comprises a state-of-the-art rehabilitation centre and was the first practice to be opened in 2005.

While the Fitzpatrick Referrals Oncology and Soft Tissue hospital is in Guilford, Surrey. It specialises in the treatment of cancer in small animals, using cutting-edge equipment and an experienced team to help pets receive every treatment option available.

Supervet prices

At Fitzpatrick Referrals Orthopaedics and Neurology prices range from £210 for an initial consultation to £8,000 for a double hip replacement. Prices vary depending on the procedure, the weight of the animal and any other treatments required.

A more accurate cost can be provided on initial consultation.

Animal Rescue Live Supervet special

This popular programme was last aired on Channel 4 in August 2019 and can still be watched on All 4.

It was based at the Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare, an animal rescue shelter in Lewes, East Sussex, but also featured rehoming shelters across the UK.

It shows the highs and lows of working in an animal shelter and the adoption process.

The show aimed to encourage pet lovers to adopt pets, rather than buy from pet shops and online. It also also aimed to raise money for rescue shelters and encourage volunteering across the UK.

It was the 2nd series of the programme to be shown.

Digby Bodenham
UK engagement team lead

Digby is an experienced journalist in various fields but has specialised in insurance for more than six years. Before joining ManyPets in 2013 he was part of the editorial teams of various magazines, including Retail Week and Drapers. He has a degree in journalism and a cat called Potato.