What to Expect

Who have I been referred to?

Veterinary Specialists Scotland is a multi-disciplinary referral hospital which opened in October 2020. We have created a state-of-the-art facility and assembled a team of highly motivated Specialists, Fellows, nurses and support colleagues, to deliver the best possible clinical care to pets from all over Scotland and Northern England.

A Specialist is the equivalent of a Consultant in human medicine. Our Specialists have all undergone several years of additional training in their area of expertise and have achieved internationally recognised qualifications. A Fellow is someone who has successfully completed a Specialist training programme but has not yet completed the final rigorous examination process. Each of our services is headed by either a Specialist or a Fellow and our team approach means your pet will benefit from the input of multiple Specialists if required. Many of our Veterinary Nurses have obtained advanced nursing qualifications which allows us to provide all-round excellence in care. Find out more about our team.

Working Together with your Primary Care Vet

Referral appointments can only be made by the Veterinary Surgeon who provides the primary care for your pet. We are unable to accept direct requests from owners. As part of the referral process, your vet will send us clinical history and background information, all of which is essential to help us provide the best possible care for your pet and to prevent any duplication of tests or investigations. Most of this information will be sent directly to us before your appointment but there may be occasions where your vet could ask you to bring information with you for your appointment.

Where possible, we aim to return your pet to the care of your usual vet and will work in partnership with them to help provide the ongoing care for your pet.

Preparing for the Appointment

Before your appointment we may send you questionnaires and/or forms to fill in. If you do receive this, then it would be ideal if you can send them back into us as early as possible or bring to the appointment with you.

Key Actions;

  • Feed your pet as normal until 10pm on the evening before the appointment. If your pet arrives with an empty stomach, we are able to perform certain blood tests or procedures straight away. However, if your pet is less than 6 months old, please get in touch with us because we may advise differently
  • There is no need to remove your pet’s water bowl, and they can be allowed free access to water until they arrive at our clinic
  • Dogs should be allowed to toilet before travelling to the hospital. If you think a urine or faecal sample is likely to be required, your referring vet may be able to provide you with appropriate sample pots
  • Cats can have access to litter trays until they leave to travel to the hospital
  • Please see our website for further advice on transporting cats
  • Please bring any medication that your pet is currently receiving to the appointment with you
  • If your pet is diabetic, then please phone for advice regarding timing of medication, as we may alter these depending on the procedure your pet is likely to undergo

The Appointment

During the appointment, we will ask you some more detailed questions about your pet’s problem. A physical examination will also be performed. This will guide us as to what further investigations are required in order to reach a diagnosis, or before surgery is performed. The costs of diagnostic tests and treatment options will be discussed at this stage, and you do not need to proceed beyond the consultation if you do not wish to. Although it is possible to give approximate estimates for costs based on notes from your referring vet, sometimes these can change once more information is gained from taking a more in-depth history and examining your pet.


As explained above, most pets are likely to be admitted either for further investigation, treatment or both. Patients with quite complex problems may require admission for a number of days whereas some may be admitted as a day patient. Where surgery is required, we usually aim to perform this as soon as a diagnosis has been made, but we can arrange to schedule it for a different time if it is more convenient and your pet’s condition is not urgent. In some instances, your own vet may be happy to undertake the treatment, once we have made the diagnosis.


Where animals are admitted to the hospital, you will be asked to sign a consent form, giving us permission to carry out the procedures discussed and agreeing to the estimated costs.


Please see our Payment page for details relating to payment and for guidance about pet health insurance claims.

Progress Reports

We know that being separated from your pet while they are in the hospital can be a difficult time for you as an owner. While your pet is in our care, we will update you about their progress on a daily basis and more frequently if they are undergoing tests or procedures with us. Your update may come from the vet in charge of your pet, a nurse, or a member of the out-of-hours team depending on what needs to be discussed.

At the weekend, updates will be at variable times because caring for the inpatients is our priority. We know you will be keen to hear from us about your pet, but please wait for our call, rather than phoning in to the hospital.

Patient Care in our Wards

Once admitted, patients are housed in their own kennel within a ward. Dogs are exercised outside several times daily. Cats are housed in a separate ward from dogs, with adequate space for bedding, litter trays and feeding bowls. We stock a variety of cat litters so that we can use one that your cat is used to.

Personal Items

Our strict infection control policy means you will not normally be able to leave personal items with your pet. These may be left at our discretion in exceptional circumstances but will be subject to our infection control guidelines and we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss or damage.


Whilst your pet is in our care, an easily digestible complete food will be fed to them. If your pet is a fussy eater and is used to one particular food, it may be advisable to bring some of their usual food with you, especially if they are going to be admitted.

Raw Feeding - While we acknowledge that some pets referred to us will be on a raw diet, hospital policy is that we will not feed this. This is because of  the health risk to our team of handling uncooked meat in relation to Salmonella, E.coli, TB and Cryptosporidium and the health risk of transfer of these pathogens to other debilitated (or even healthy) patients. We will feed home-cooked meat if you wish to prepare some to bring with you.


For health and safety reasons, and to minimise the risk of infectious disease transmission, we hope that you will understand that patient visits can only be allowed in exceptional circumstances.

We understand that your pet being away from home and the family environment can be stressful for both you and them. While your pet is the hospital, they will have human company for a significant portion of the day and will be taken for regular walks and given lots of attention. We will do our utmost to ensure your pet is treated and discharged back home to you as soon as possible.

Going Home

When your pet is ready to go home, a discharge appointment will be arranged. Our nurse or vet will go through test results, medications and written discharge instructions to ensure you fully understand the plan. A copy of the discharge instructions will be sent to your vet followed by a more detailed letter about your pet’s treatment in the hospital. Should you need to see your vet shortly after discharge from the hospital, we recommend you take the discharge information with you, just in case there has been a glitch in sending or receiving the information.

Follow-up appointments may be required either with your own vet or at Veterinary Specialists Scotland. In some cases, our follow-up may be managed by telephone consultation. Where this is required, we will schedule an appointment time with one of our vets to ensure they are readily available. Please be aware there will be further charges for follow-up appointments on site or for scheduled phone calls.

Opening Hours

Our Client Care team is available between 8.30 am to 6.00 pm Monday to Friday and 8.30 am to 12.00 noon on Saturday. We have on-site vets, nurses and clinical support staff at all times but their priority is the care of our hospitalised patients. We request that you contact our Client Care Team during office hours for any non-urgent matters and any after-hours queries are for urgent or emergency situations only.


  • Excellent on-site car parking
  • Disabled parking bays outside the clinic
  • Emergency parking spaces close to the main entrance
  • Wheelchair accessible client areas- waiting areas, reception, consulting rooms, WC
  • Induction loops fitted at Reception
  • Refreshments
  • Baby changing facilities

Within a few hundred yards of the hospital there is access to hotel accommodation, restaurant, petrol station and a small Marks and Spencer food store.


What our clients say:

Alastair Kerr
Alastair Kerr
26 May 2024
The best place for great care for you pet.
karen hamilton
karen hamilton
21 May 2024
Our bernese mountain dog Merlin had issues with his gait and after physio exams and xrays from our own vet we were recommended to get an MRI. We decided to take him to Livingston rather than Glasgow based on reviews and we were not disappointed! The service and professionalism shown to us by all staff and especially Alexandra was unbelievable. She explained everything in layman terms for us so that we could fully understand what was happening with our boy. We arrived so anxious and we left with a full diagnosis and we can now get on with enjoying our boy. Thankyou so much to everyone 💓
fiona mccormack
fiona mccormack
11 May 2024
My dog was referred here by my vet after all other options had been covered. They were amazing and really looked after Buster. Sadly it wasn’t the outcome we wanted but I can’t fault anything about his treatment and the way the staff dealt with us through an incredibly difficult time. We were kept fully informed at all times and everything as very sensitively handled.
Gayle Mcdowell
Gayle Mcdowell
25 April 2024
All the staff are great and take fantastic care of my dog
Wendy Busby
Wendy Busby
16 April 2024
Our beloved dog Dougal was referred to VSS recently in a very poorly state. Tobias, Joni and the wonderful nursing team admitted him for some life saving surgery and critical care. We would have lost Dougal if it had not been for the skills and care of this team. The communication was clear and warm, but also was forthright and honest about Dougals chances. After nearly a week miraculously we got him home. He still needed care in his recovery and after what he went through I cannot quite believe how well he is doing. The updates from the team were just right, his condition explained each time and progress or risks discussed. Follow up caring communication has also been second to none. I would still say the same if the outcome had not been favourable, and wholeheartedly recommend the team that work in this incredible veterinary care service.
Janka Hudak
Janka Hudak
12 April 2024
Our journey with Veterinary Specialists Scotland began when our 8-month-old Papillon, Whisky, suffered a severe fracture to her front leg. The referral to Dr. Joni Viitanen and his team was a turning point during this emergency. From the moment we arrived, the response was both professional and deeply compassionate—they admitted Whisky immediately and made sure she was as comfortable as possible. Dr. Viitanen performed surgery the very next day, and during Whisky’s three-day stay, we felt she was in the best hands. The team was not only exemplary in their medical care but also in providing emotional support, making Whisky’s first time away from home as gentle as possible. They kept us well-informed throughout her treatment, always ready to answer our questions and calm our worries. The news that Whisky had completely healed after just seven weeks was a profound relief. Every staff member we encountered was incredibly supportive, ensuring that all administrative tasks, including the insurance claim, were handled smoothly. We are truly grateful to Dr. Viitanen and the entire Orthopaedic Team for their outstanding dedication. Their blend of professional expertise and heartfelt care made all the difference. We highly recommend Veterinary Specialists Scotland to anyone seeking exceptional care for their pets. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Whisky and for us.
John McKellar
John McKellar
22 March 2024
Recently took our dog Sparky to these guys and found the experience from reception staff to veterinary professional care brilliant.
Bill ferguson
Bill ferguson
9 March 2024
Very helpful and professional care team,could not fault any of the help we were given.
Bethany Rutherford
Bethany Rutherford
5 March 2024
My young dog was recently discharged after a long year of treatment at Veterinary Specialists Scotland. After an injury she required a carpal arthrodesis surgery and through no ones fault seemed to hit every bump in the road in the months to follow. The care she received was impeccable and Joni her surgeon was fantastic. During a really stressful and upsetting period of being a dog owner Joni was super helpful and patient. He kept us informed every step of the way. We knew the risks to every surgery and were able to make fully informed decisions about her care. Joni had our full trust and kept us reassured and confident that she would come out the other side with all four legs. I felt Joni and the team here were fully invested in my dogs recovery and wellbeing. We were kept up to date during her stays and kept in contact with after her discharges post treatment. I am glad to say that we are now on the other side after such a worrying year and my wee dog is loving being on the road back to her normal life. Thank you so much to everyone at Veterinary Specialist Scotland and a special thanks to Joni I am so grateful!