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Twelve-year-old Westie, Freddy, has undergone lifesaving treatment at North Downs Specialist Referrals, in Surrey.

Twelve-year-old Westie, Freddy, has undergone lifesaving treatment at North Downs Specialist Referrals, in Surrey.

Freddy, Steady, Go! NDSR Specialists Race Against Time To Save Seriously Ill Pet

2 weeks ago

4th July, 2024 07h18

Linnaeus Group

Specialists at one of the UK’s leading small animal hospitals faced a race against time to save the life of a pet with a ruptured intestinal tumour. 

Local vets had made an urgent referral of the 12-year-old Westie, called Freddy, to the experts at Linnaeus-owned North Downs Specialist Referrals (NDSR) in Bletchingley, Surrey. 

The much-loved family pet was presented to NDSR weak, listless and feverish, and head of internal medicine, European and RCVS specialist Fiona Adam, immediately recommended blood tests and an ultrasound scan, which revealed Freddy needed emergency surgery. 

Fiona explained: “The ultrasound examination revealed a large growth in Freddy’s small intestine and, worse than that, the growth had ruptured and was leaking partially digested food (faeces) into his abdomen. 

“This was an emergency. There was a high risk of death with surgery, but a certainty without it.” 

There was no time to lose and fellow European and RCVS specialist Benito de la Puerta, NDSR’s head of soft tissue surgery, immediately took Freddy to the operating theatre to perform the life-saving surgery. 

Benito said: “We removed the growth and, fortunately, no other masses were found in Freddy’s abdomen. 

“He was still very poorly, though, due to the inflammation associated with the leakage of intestinal material into his abdomen. 

“He was transferred to our High Dependency Unit where he received intensive care and support and happily he made a fantastic recovery.” 

However, the drama was not over, as Freddy faced an anxious wait while the growth was sent off for analysis. 

Benito added: “The pathology results were not received until after Freddy had been discharged. We had been expecting that it was a tumour but we hadn’t expected it to be lymphoma. 

“There were now some concerns about whether Freddy would be a good candidate for a course of chemotherapy and he was referred to our hospital director Gerry Polton, who is a European and RCVS specialist in veterinary oncology.” 

The multidisciplinary approach of the talented team at NDSR saw Gerry join the case to help ensure Freddy continued to improve and recover. 

He said: “I had a long chat with Freddy’s owner and discussed the potential risks and benefits of the chemotherapy treatment. 

“A bespoke plan was devised for Freddy with a once-a-month oral treatment which his owner could safely give him at home. 

“Freddy accepted this treatment without hesitation and, to date, has remained completely side effect free and progressed extremely well.” 

Owner Kate Forde, from Caterham, Surrey, spoke of her concerns after she was informed of the severity of Freddy’s problem, saying: “My referring vet had suspected cancer which was obviously a concern and a bit of a surprise as he had not shown many symptoms until that point. 

“I was keen to get him here to NDSR to see the specialists and I was very worried when the resulting ultrasound and fine needle aspiration test showed septic peritonitis. 

“Fiona was very open about the position, which I appreciated. She and Benito gave me lots of information which was clear and well explained. 

“More recently, I have also been speaking to Gerry who has been equally supportive and helpful.

“The whole NDSR team was brilliant. Everyone looked after him very well and Freddy is back to normal again. He is very happy pottering around and barking at the doorbell once again, so we’re both very happy and very grateful.”  

NDSR offers specialist-led services in anaesthesia and analgesia, cardiology, dentistry, dermatology, diagnostic imaging, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopaedics, soft tissue surgery and spinal surgery.  

For more information, visit or search for North Downs Specialist Referrals on social media.   

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