The best of care requires the best equipment and the most modern approach to diagnostics and treatment. We believe in investing in excellent, modern equipment and training to allow us to excel in the care of your pets.


We have a history of innovation. As one of the leading companion animal general practices in the country, we aim to have the most up-to-date approach and maintain a standard of equipment that is superior to many much larger practices. Some examples are:

  • Orchard House was one of the first practices in the UK to use the Humphrey ADE Anaesthetic Circuit
  • One of the first 25 practices in the UK to use “Robovet” software, now used by around 1000 practices
  • One of first general practices in the UK to utilise digital dental radiography

At Orchard House we can perform all the necessary investigative procedures your pet might require, with the exception of advanced imaging (computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). For advanced imaging we have close links with local referral centres and Glasgow and Edinburgh Veterinary Schools.

We have approval as a Veterinary Nurse Training Practice, and Orchard House is also an approved centre for Extra-Mural Studies for the veterinary schools in the UK.


What we have and what we do:


Dentistry and Dental Radiography



Diagnostic Imaging



Safety is our primary concern for our patients. Both Hexham and Stocksfield centres have the most up to date anaesthetic machines with a variety of circuits to suit any animal from an 80kg St Bernard to a Hamster weighing no more than 80g.

We constantly monitor our patients during anaesthesia using a combination of:

  • Veterinary Nurses: no monitor is as important as having quality, trained and experienced staff in charge of anaesthetic monitoring
  • Pulse Oximetry: a device which gives an audible and visual indication of heart rate and oxygen saturation of the blood
  • Capnography: monitoring of the amount of carbon dioxide in the air breathed out by the patient
  • Electrocardiogram
  • Oesophageal Stethoscope
  • Blood pressure
  • Core temperature

We use a variety of anaesthetic agents according to species, size, age and state of health. We routinely insert an intravenous catheter to allow the administration of anaesthetic agents and provide the safeguard of instant intravenous access during a surgical procedure.


Preparation Room

In the designated preparatory area, animals are anaesthetised, clipped and have their skin cleaned and disinfected prior to surgery, avoiding contamination of the sterile theatre. We also do non-sterile procedures such as dentistry and flushing of contaminated wounds in this area.

Sterile Procedures Operating Theatre

Both of our surgeries have fully equipped designated operating theatres with modern, bright theatre lighting and a wide range of surgical instruments and equipment. We routinely carry out the majority of surgical procedures including some orthopaedic operations, as well as soft tissue surgery.

We aim for high standards in surgical care. Our standard protocol involves the use of an individual sterile scrub brush, sterile gown, hat and gloves for all “clean” surgical procedures. It is what we would expect for ourselves and our own pets, so it’s what we do for our patients. Care over sterility means very low rates of post-operative infection or complications. We have vacuum autoclaves to sterilize our instruments, and use disposable sterile drapes and individual packs of sterile sutures, not suture from a reel.

It is our attention to detail that makes us stand out from the crowd.

Diagnostic Imaging


At Hexham we have a Digital Radiography Suite that allows us to radiograph even the biggest dog. The images produced are of excellent quality. In addition they are all stored on the computer which allows us to e-mail them when a second opinion is required. As well as taking diagnostic radiographs in many cases, we regularly X-ray dogs for the British Veterinary Association Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Schemes.



Most people are familiar with the use of ultrasound for pregnancy diagnosis and examinations in people. Ultrasound has become one of the most important tools in veterinary diagnostics in the last 10 years. Previously, surgery would have been necessary to examine and take samples from internal organs. We can now image the abdomen and heart without surgery, and can often take samples with non-invasive techniques such as needle biopsy.

We have an on-site small animal ultrasound unit (Sonosite). For more complex ultrasonography we utilise a referral ultrasonographer, Sophie Betts, but scans are all carried out at our Hexham or Stocksfield branches.


Endoscopy is an instrument used to examine the interior of the body. Unlike most other medical imaging devices, endoscopes are inserted directly into the organ. For instance, at Orchard House we regularly ‘scope the airways, the stomach and gut and the inside of the nose. Gastroscopy can be used to retrieve “foreign bodies” that have been swallowed, to check for ulcers or tumours or to take biopsies from the inside of the bowel.

Dentistry and Dental Radiography

Orchard House is one of very few practices in the UK with digital dental radiography. It is impossible to perform quality dentistry without access to and the use of radiography. Over 50% of the tooth structure is covered by bone and gum. X rays allow us to check for disease below the gum-line such as fractured roots, painful holes in the enamel at the base of the crown, plus the make proper planning of surgical extractions of diseased teeth.

We have Air Driven Dental Units at both Hexham and Stocksfield comprising of high and low speed drills, ultrasonic scaler and polishing equipment. Dentistry is almost always done under general anaesthesia, this makes it a much more pleasant, less painful procedure for the patient and allows for both thorough and detailed dentistry.




Equipment plays a huge role in our ability to deliver a rapid and comprehensive service to our patients and clients. Our laboratory suite is an area where we have expanded in the last few years.

We have invested in blood testing equipment that can analyse haematology, blood biochemistry and electrolytes in just a few minutes. Removing a reliance on external laboratory services, particularly outside normal working hours, weekends and holidays, allows us to initiate emergency treatment quickly and accurately.

A courier service every evening to specialist external laboratory service means any additional tests can be completed and acted on as swiftly as possible.

We offer pre-anaesthetic blood profiles on the morning of surgery, primarily to check liver and kidney function prior to a general anaesthetic. Testing minimises the risk of anaesthetising an apparently well pet that may have an underlying and undetected problem. This can be particularly important in the older animal. If we detect a potential problem we can choose to modify the anaesthetic regime or even decide to defer the procedure to allow for further investigation.

At both Hexham and Stocksfield we have equipment for the microscopic examination of skin scrapes and hair samples, urine and other body fluids.


We stock a wide range of medications, so that treatment can begin immediately. We have a daily delivery from our wholesaler, so non-emergency medicines can almost always be obtained the following morning.

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