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In-hospital care and diagnostics

While your pet is in hospital it will be cared for by a dedicated team of vets and nurses. This team approach means that your pet will receive the best care possible. The 'Inpatient Vet' will be responsible for your pet's veterinary treatment during their stay, and will also be your point of contact. These vets generally work three days in a row to promote consistent care for your pet. Inpatient vets discuss their cases with eachother during 'rounds' and share knowledge and ideas on treatment to ensure your pet gets the best outcome.


If your pet requires a procedure, such as surgery, xray or ultrasound, this will be performed by a procedure vet and nurse. Some procedures, such as orthopaedic surgery and ultrasound are performed by specific vets who have the epxertise required for that procedure. If there are a large number of cases there can sometimes be delays in the timing of your pet's procedure. Your pet will be assessed throughout it's stay and urgent cases are always treated first.

Communication while your pet is in hospital

To ensure that our vets have the time to care for your pets, we use a text message service to update you on the status of your pet as it is treated. In cases that are not going as previously planned we will need to talk to you over the phone, so it is vital that you keep your phone with you while your pet is hospitalised. Alternatively, you can nominate a family member to act on your behalf.

If you would like to speak to your vet, please call after 12pm. Sometimes the vet is unable to speak at the time you call, so please leave a concat number where you can be reached.


Our hospital has the equipment to care for your pets when they need hospitalisation, including:

Patient wards
Blood tests
CT scan

 Patient Wards

Unfortunately, not all animals that are sick and injured can simply be treated at home and many require hospitalisation for further tests and analysis to determine what is causing the problem. We have several wards within the hospital to accommodate our sick patients.

When a patient is admitted into hospital they come under the care of an in-patient vet and nurse. The in-patient team will monitor and check on your pet, determine what tests are required, assess the results, and provide any necessary treatment.

Your pet will have its own enclosure and will be in a ward specific for its species. We have separate cat, dog, and exotic/unusual pet wards. The only exception is the intensive care unit (ICU) which houses the sickest and most critical patients irrespective of breed or species.

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General Wards

We have several wards to house our patients including a cat medical ward, a cat surgical ward, two small-medium dog wards, one large dog ward, one surgical ward for dogs, and one isolation ward. Our treatment room also has enclosures that house patients that are scheduled for day-procedures.

Although the pets are housed individually in their own enclosure, they are nevertheless still close to each other. For this reason, it cannot be stressed enough that all dogs and cats should be up-to-date with their vaccinations to reduce the risk of contracting an airborne contagious disease.

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Intensive care unit (ICU)

Our sickest patients are placed in our intensive care unit. We have two dedicated ICU nurses and an ICU vet always on duty to look after and monitor these patients. In ICU, animals may be on oxygen therapy, require special care in a humidicrib, require tube feeding or very close observation and monitoring due to their injuries or medical condition. Patients are monitored 24-hours every day, seven days a week.

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There are certain diseases in cats and dogs which are highly contagious and can make our pets very sick. Our isolation ward houses pets that are infected with parvovirus or severe cat flu and require hospitalisation.

The isolation ward quarantines the pet so that it cannot infect the other dogs and cats within the hospital. Vets and nurses who are looking after these patients must wear protective, disposable clothing when they enter the ward in order to limit the risk of spreading disease.

For this reason, owners should be aware they are not permitted within the ward to interact with their pet and visiting is permitted only via the viewing window.

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We are fortunate to have state-of-the-art radiology equipment installed at Lort Smith Animal Hospital. Xrays, or radiographs, are taken on an xray plate which physically looks much like the traditional xray plate. The difference is that the images are captured digitally and read by a special digital plate reader. Once this is scanned, a digital xray image is shown on screen and may be sent to a computer in another section of the Lort Smith Animal Hospital for viewing. In the event that we have to refer your pet, we can also email these xrays to the referring vet.

To ensure we are able to obtain the best radiographic picture possible and for the safety of our staff (to minimise exposure to potentially dangerous radiation), animals undergoing radiography are given a light sedative or anaesthetic to avoid any distress on their part.

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The ultrasound machine complements the radiology equipment in that they are both useful in obtaining images of what may be going on within the body when an external examination can’t reveal the problem. The ultrasound is excellent for looking at some of the finer details in internal organs such as the thickness of the heart wall in heart diseases, or the efficiency of the heart valve. It can be useful in detecting internal masses which may not show up readily on radiographs, or determining if a dog or cat is pregnant. It can be used to assist in taking biopsies of internal organs or tissues without requiring full exploratory surgery.

Many of our vets have training in the use of the ultrasound unit. We also have Dr Harold Pook and Dr Sue Ramoo, who both have an interest in small animal medicine who are able to ultrasound some of the more complicated and difficult cases.

Should your pet require an ultrasound scan, your vet will be able to discuss that with you. 

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 Blood tests

Like humans, blood tests in animals are conducted for a variety of reasons including:  

  • A general health check particularly for older animals
  • A pre-anaesthetic screen for those about to undergo an anaesthetic
  • A means to help diagnose an underlying problem in sick and unwell patients
  • Monitoring animals that have chronic or ongoing medical conditions such as diabetes, Cushings disease, epilepsy or hyperthyroidism.
  • Screening for a particular disease or condition

For blood tests relating to a particular condition, fasting of the pet for of 8-12 hours is usually recommended.

For animals having their medication monitored, such as those on phenobarbitone (epilepsy medication), it is important we take a sample of blood just prior to the next dose of medication.

One notable exception is for animals receiving treatment (trilostane/ vetoryl ®) for Cushings disease. The appointment should be made for between 4-6 hours after the last dose. For most dogs this would be around lunchtime following the morning dose of medication.

At Lort Smith Animal Hospital, we use a variety of blood test methods to help diagnose and monitor our patients. Some tests, including heartworm tests, parvovirus tests or feline AIDS (FIV) test, can be run in-house and generally take between 5-20 minutes.

We also run in-house biochemistry and haematology tests to rule out any underlying conditions before a pet undergoes an anaesthetic or if we need urgent results.

Other blood tests are sent to the veterinary pathology laboratory which has a turn-around of between 12-24 hours, or longer if it is an unusual test.

The veterinarian looking after your pet will advise on what the expected turnaround time will be. We endeavour to report back to you as soon as the results of any blood tests are ready, however, please keep in mind that we may have dozens of results to report and this may take some time.

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An endoscope is basically a camera at the end of a narrow flexible tube which is about 150cm long. The images from the endoscope can be viewed on an external monitor.

The structure of the endoscope allows the visualisation of internal tubular structures of an animal including the oesophagus, the trachea or windpipe, the front portion of the small intestine or the back portion of the colon. We use it to look for possible foreign bodies, areas that may be indicative of cancers which can cause ulceration and bleeding, or growths with or without bleeding.

Due to its flexible nature, it can also be used to take biopsies of certain portions of the bowel or stomach without the requirement of an exploratory surgery. This will depend on whether a lesion is located within a structure, such as the bowel or stomach, or if it is outside, in which case an exploratory laparotomy procedure would be required.

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An ECG is used to monitor very specific heart functions, notably how well the heart conducts electrical signals across its muscle tissue.  It is a non-invasive way to measure the heart function and may be used to explain conditions of arrythmia (irregular heartbeats), tachycardia (fast heart rate), or dropped beats due to problems with signal conduction through the heat muscles.

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 CT scanner

Thanks to some generous donors and GE, the Hospital has acquired a state-of-the-art CT scanner. A CT is a type of x-ray that takes 3D pictures and can provide more accurate diagnostic information and better quality information to help our vets plan surgeries.

The CT scanner allows us to diagnose and treat many illnesses and conditions we would have previously been unable to treat. For instance, a scan will help us diagnose cancer earlier and help to determine the extent of cancer in an animal to save the trauma of unnecessary surgery. It will help us to diagnose countless other condition.

CT scans are available with our standard discounts for health care and seniors cards. Payment plans are also available.

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