Emergency Vet Contact: 01772 746393 Available 24 hours a day

Domestic Pets

Dogs / Cats / Rabbits / Guinea Pigs / Ferrets / Other Small Furries

Bringing Your Pet to the Surgery:

Dogs should be brought into the surgery on a secure collar or harness and lead. Cats rabbits and small animals should always be transported in a secure, escape-proof carrier. This will help to keep the pet calm and ensure their safety.

When bringing rabbits and other small pets you can line their box with a towel or shredded newspaper and food does not need to be withheld. At our Penwortham surgery we have a separate section of the waiting room for cats, rabbits and other small pets, in order to help reduce stress in these pets.


Before booking your pet in for neutering we strongly recommend a pre-op check. This can be performed by a vet or nurse. This allows us to check your animal over and see if there are any issues which may need addressing before your animal can undergo an anaesthetic. These pre-op checks are free of charge.

All our neutering procedures are carried out on the same day, your pet should go home later in the day, and our nurses will give you full instructions on their aftercare. Be prepared to bring them back in on two occasions after their surgery for check-ups, usually at three and ten days after the surgery.



  • There is no physiological reason for a bitch to have a litter of puppies. Being mated and then eventually whelping, plus raising the puppies afterwards can all be hugely stressful events for an animal – and you!
  • An entire female (I.e. hasn’t been neutered) is at risk of a potentially life-threatening condition called pyometra. This is where there is infection within the uterus. Sometimes it can be referred to as an “open” pyometra – this is where there can be a visible, bloody discharge from the vulva. However, sometimes pyometra may be what we refer to as “closed”. This is where there is no discharge, and the infection builds up within the uterus, which can eventually lead to toxins leaking into the circulation. This can make animals very sick, and can also end in rupture of the uterus.
  • We recommend spaying a bitch after their first season. This reduces the risk of uterine tumours by 95%. Spaying an animal after future seasons will still reduce the risk of uterine tumours but by a smaller percentage.
  • A bitch can be spayed before their first season. However there have been reports of this being associated with urinary incontinence in some of these females.
  • We recommend spaying a bitch 3 months after their last season. This is because the blood vessels associated with the relevant structures are at their smallest, and it is therefore a safer time to perform the surgery.


  • We recommend castration once a male is around 6 months old, depending on breed size this could be up to 12 months for larger breeds.  This allows circulation of hormones and development of character, plus it gives time for both testicles to descend (see below). In particularly nervous animals we may advise delaying castration or discussing the best option for your dog with a behaviourist.
  • If you are not going to breed from your male then we recommend castration, because as entire males get older they can be more prone to tumours of the testicles, prostate etc
  • Undescended testicles – it can take up to 6 months (sometimes longer in larger breeds of dogs) for both testicles to descend. If, however, they do not both descend then this is referred to as cryptorchid. Undescended testicles are more likely to cause problems, and so we strongly advise castration and removal of the undescended testicle in these animals.

At Ribble Vets we prefer cats to be over 2kg in weight before they are brought in to be neutered. Generally this will be when they are around 6 months old. You are welcome to bring your cat to a nurse weight check appointment when they reach this age to see if they are the right size for neutering.


Cats can be prolific breeders. They do not have seasons in the same way that bitches do and so spaying can be carried out at any time. However, we recommend that if you are not going to breed from your cat then spaying when they are young and before they have been let out is ideal.

Why neuter? Castrating cats can help to reduce spraying of urine and the likelihood of fighting, which can increase their risk of contracting viral diseases and cat bite abscesses.


NOTE: Whilst all anaesthetics carry a risk, small pets such as rabbits are at an increased risk with anaesthetics, but we ensure we do all we can to support them during and after their procedure.

Dependant on their breed and size they can usually be neutered from around 5 months of age.

Neutering can help to reduce incidence of fighting in rabbits – both males and females

Does (females) which are entire and not bred from have an increased risk of developing uterine tumours. Therefore, if you are not going to breed from your rabbit then we do recommend spaying. This also allows you to be able to keep your female rabbit alongside a male, this combination often works better than keeping same sex rabbits together.

After castration you should keep males separated from females for 6 weeks, as they could actually still get a female pregnant in this time. If you would like to keep two neutered males together it is also recommended to not bond them fully until after this six week period when their hormones have settled down.

Pet Prescriptions

Written prescriptions are available from this practice at a fee of £17.10

You may obtain Prescription Only Medications, Category V (POM V’s) from your veterinary surgeon OR ask for a prescription and obtain these medicines from another veterinary surgeon or a pharmacy.

Your veterinary surgeon may prescribe POM V’s only for animals under his or her care.

A prescription may not be appropriate if your animal is an in-patient or immediate treatment is necessary.

You will be informed, on request, of the price of any medicine that may be prescribed for your animal.

The general policy of this practice is to re-assess an animal requiring repeat prescriptions every 4 months, but this may vary with individual circumstances. The standard charge for repeat medication consultation is £19.00.

Further information on the prices of medication is available on request.

Ordering and Collecting Repeat Medications and Pet Food

If your pet is prescribed on-going medication (including flea and wormer treatments) , or you should purchase food from us, please email reception@ribblevets.co.uk 48 hours in advance to book a repeat prescription.

The dispensing vet or nurse will then check your pet’s clinical record and the available stock and will make up your order.  Should there be a problem in fulfilling your order, or if the vet would like to check your pet before prescribing further medication, you will be contacted. 

Please collect the prescription between 10:00 and 11:00am Monday to Saturday or  between 4:00 and 5:00pm Monday to Friday.  When you arrive in the carpark please telephone 01772 746393 to pay for the medication and to inform the team you have arrived.   A member of staff will bring your prescription out to you.


Microchips are small, electronic chips encased in a glass tube similar to the size of a grain of rice. They do not contain batteries therefore do not have a limited life-span. They are activated when a microchip reader is placed in close proximity allowing the unique identification number to be displayed. This number is registered to a large database which gives details of the animal including their name, owner’s phone numbers and the home address although only authorised people can access this information. It is important that details are updated to enable contact to be made with the owner in the event of the animal going missing.

The microchip is implanted using a needle under the skin between the shoulder blades. It is no more painful than a standard injection, although the needle is slightly larger. A microchip can be implanted to most species of animals during a normal visit to the vets and can be done by a nurse.

Please note that a microchip is not a GPS device and therefore cannot be used to track an animal.

Legal Requirements

As of the 6th April 2016, it became a legal requirement for all dogs over the age of 8 weeks old to be microchipped. If the authorities are aware of a dog without a microchip then the owner will be served with a notice to ensure the dog is microchipped within a set period, if this is not done then the owner may face criminal prosecution and a £500 fine.

The only exemption is where a veterinary surgeon has verified in writing that an individual is unsuitable for microchipping.

At this time, other species of companion animals are not legally required to be microchipped although it is highly recommended to enable contact to be made with an owner in the event that an animal goes missing or is injured when out of the owners care.

Mobility Management


Acupuncture is a medical practice dating back thousands of years. The approach used at Ribble Vets is based on the understanding that needling specific areas close to a site of pain causes nervous signals to be passed to the brain, triggering the release of endorphins. These are naturally occurring pain killing chemicals which help to dampensignals from a problem area.

Acupuncture can help with ailments such as:

Skeletal abnormalities such as arthritis, spondylosis (fusion of the spinal vertebrae), pain from hip or elbow dysplasia or vertebral disc pain

Muscular problems such as strains, sprains and spasms – some of which are found in conjunction with arthritic animals holding themselves in a guarded position

Vet Sarah Burndred practices acupuncture at the Penwortham branch, with appointments usually available on Mondays and Wednesdays.

If you would like to enquire as to whether your dog could benefit from a course a course of acupuncture, please telephone the Penwortham branch and we will arrange for Sarah to get in contact with you.

Sarah Burndred

Sarah Burndred

Small Animal Veterinary Surgeon

Sarah graduated in 2002 from Newcastle University with a degree in Applied Biology and then proceeded to study Veterinary Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, qualifying in 2006.After graduation, she returned to her roots in Lancashire and has spent time in both mixed and small animal practice before starting a family.She returned to work as a locum vet in 2013 and has since settled as a permanent member of staff at Ribble Vets where she enjoys being part of such an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and forward-thinking team.Her particular interests lie in small animal ophthalmology, ultrasonography and acupuncture. Outside work, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband and their 5 year old daughter, who loves to help with baking and gardening.


This technique is becoming more common for exercising and rehabilitating dogs with joint problems. This is delivered in either purpose built pools or with a hydrotherapy treadmill. Swimming is a low impact form of exercise, which means it will not aggravate your dog’s joints. This makes it a good choice for weight loss and general exercise.

Hydrotherapy treadmills utilise water resistance to help improve muscle mass, making it another low impact form of exercise. The treadmill’s design encourages dogs to hold a correct gait, and the tank’s clear sides allow observation of the patient’s movements. The treadmill is computer-controlled which means the temperature, speed, depth and direction can all be tailored precisely to the patient’s needs. Performed in warm water, hydrotherapy on a treadmill is a good choice for physiotherapy and rehabilitation of most conditions. We are excited that our premises on Liverpool Road, Penwortham has a dedicated hydrotherapy treadmill. This enables us to internally refer patients to the qualified hydrotherapist team who will plan individual programmes for each patient. Although most patients seen are dogs, we have successfully introduced several cats to the concept of walking in water and all have accepted the treatment and progressed following injury.

Pet Hydrotherapy Available on Sundays

Hydrotherapy is still available during the lockdown. Unfortunately, to prevent the spread of Covid-19 clients currently cannot accompany their pets inside the hydrotherapy unit, but the sessions can continue with the hydrotherapist and a member of the nursing team.

Hydrotherapy can be used in the following situations...

  • Helping with weight managementRelief of pain, swelling, stiffness and muscle spasms
  • Muscle strengthening and maintenance.
  • Increased range of motion in joints
  • Improved circulation
  • Improved cardiovascular fitness
  • Increased speed of recovery post-operatively
  • Gait modification, helping animal’s to return to proper limb use following injury
  • Increased proprioception following neurological injuries

Nicky Birch HVN/PM

Nicky Birch HVN

Dip AVN (Surg), (Med), RVN, CertSAN, VNMA (Rehab & Physio), MBVNA, Certified K Laser Clinician

Head Veterinary Nurse and practice Manager

Nicky joined the practice in September 2009. She previously spent 5 years in a small animal practice and 17 years working for a small animal charity.Nicky is a Registered Veterinary Nurse with further qualifications in Veterinary Nurse training, small animal nutrition, small animal behaviour, advanced medical and surgical nursing, K laser therapy and hydrotherapy.She is particularly interested in anything feline, equine or caprine (goat related!).She owns a variety of animals, including cats, horses, hens and pygmy goats, and lives with her husband and son. Nicky can be emailed on nicky@ribblevets.co.uk.

Should your pet need hydrotherapy, it will be performed by our fully trained nurses. 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us for any enquires regarding hydrotherapy, accupuncture or any other ‘mobilty management’ related enquries

Veterinary Nurse Clinics

Welcoming a new puppy or kitten into your family can be a very exciting time. The first six months of your pet’s life can be very important to their future development, and our veterinary nurses are on hand to offer you advice and guidance every step of the way. Your new puppy or kitten can have FREE monthly check-ups until six months of age with advice on diet and feeding, training and behaviour, flea and worming treatments, as well as microchipping and insurance. We also provide a free information pack, and don’t forget to read our new puppy and kitten information page.
Microchipping can be done from any age. The microchip is a tiny computer chip which has an identification number programmed into it. The chip is small enough to fit into a hypodermic needle. Once the chip has been implanted, the unique number can identify your pet throughout their life. Your details will be stored with the microchip number on a central database, and should your pet be found and taken to a vet or rescue organisation a microchip scanner will be used to read this number. The number will then be matched with your details enabling your pet to be returned to you.
Carrying excess weight places stress on joints and can result in or speed up the disease process of osteoarthritis.

Our weight clinics are designed to help your dog not only lose weight but keep that weight off.  During these clinics, the nurse will provide helpful tips and advice on diet and nutrition, as well as assisting you in formulating a feeding and exercise regime.

An initial consultation with the nurse gives the opportunity to tailor an individual weight loss plan for your pet. Following this, monthly appointments are recommended for weigh-ins, further advice and the chance to discuss the progress of your pet’s weight loss.

We have a great success rate with pets of all shapes and sizes, ages and lifestyles. It does require a lot of commitment from you and your family as possibly years of diet and exercise habits will need addressing, but our nurses firmly believe in the benefits of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and are here to help you achieve this.

We have recently received Centre of Excellence status by Royal Canin for our management of overweight dogs and cats and for educating their owners on presentation. As one of the first Approved Weight Management Centres in the UK, the whole team at Ribble Vets has received bespoke training to provide us with the skills and protocols to address weight management issues.


Regular, gentle exercise help prevent your dog’s joints stiffening up and maintains mobility so your dog can remain active.

Dogs with poor joints should avoid very energetic exercise such as lots of stairs and excessive running. Hydrotherapy can be of real benefit in these cases – see the hydrotherapy section for more information.

Exercise will help to avoid your dog becoming overweight, although exercise alone will not be enough for effective weight loss.

We recommend that pets have a dental health check every 6 months.  The dental checks are free and are run by our team of veterinary nurses.  Each clinic includes a full examination of your pet’s mouth and a demonstration on how to brush your pet’s teeth.
K-Laser: Class IV Therapeutic Laser Treatments for Advanced Pain Relief and Wound Management, delivered by our Veterinary Nursing team.

What is K-Laser therapy?

K-Laser therapy is a relatively new complementary therapy which is being implemented in the veterinary field which can be used alongside traditional medical treatments. It uses different wavelengths of light to stimulate the body to increase circulation which increases oxygen and nutrient levels in the area of damage, therefore helping the body to conduct its natural healing processes but faster.

Is it painful?

K-Laser Therapy is non-invasive and pain-free, with many animals enjoying the soothing effects of the laser during treatment.

What happens during treatment?

Each session lasts approximately 2-8 minutes per area requiring treatment with treatment plans being tailored to individual animal’s requirements.

Depending on the condition treated, K-Laser Therapy may require an initial ‘loading period’ whereby six sessions are completed within three weeks, followed by top-up doses being given. The timing of these are dependent on the individual’s requirements but could be as few as one a month.

Which conditions can be treated?

K-Laser Therapy is useful for a wide range of ailments including, but not limited to:

  • Post-Operative Wound Healing
  • Chronic Wound Healing
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Stomatitis
  • Hip And Elbow Dysplasia
  • Fractured Bones
  • Tendonitis
  • Dermatitis
  • Feline Asthma
  • Hot Spots
  • Sprains and Strains
  • Soft Tissue Injury
  • Cystitis
  • Lick Granulomas

However, K-Laser Therapy is not appropriate for all conditions, please discuss with a member of the team to see if your companion is suitable for K-Laser therapy.

Will my insurance company pay for treatments?

Many insurance companies will cover complementary therapies including K-Laser Therapy, please check with your individual insurance provider prior to commencing treatment.

Other Services Available in the Veterinary Nurse Clinics are:

Second Vaccinations, Nail Clipping, Post-operative checks and suture removal, Bandaging, Medication administration & Behavioural advice

 Cat Condos

We realise that finding appropriate pet care for your cat whilst you are on holiday can be stressful for you and your feline friend. This can be more difficult when your cat also requires daily medication, or close health monitoring.

At Ribble Vets Penwortham surgery we are here to help, by providing daily care from our Veterinary Nursing team in our separate cat condo ward. Your cat will receive daily checks, medication administration and quality time with a member of the nursing team. You can rest assured that if there are any health concerns during his/her stay, a Veterinary Surgeon will be on hand to examine and treat any issues.

For further information or to book in, please contact the reception desk on 01772 746393

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