About Us

Worried about your pet? Unsure if you need to call the vet?
Designed and run by vets, Vet Help Direct's interactive questions direct you to personalised first aid advice and clear guidelines about when to contact the vet.

Easy and fun to use, Vet Help Direct is the online source of reliable advice for concerned pet-owners.

You are just a few clicks away from practical advice from specialist vets, tailored to your pet's unique symptoms.

The Vets at Vet Help Direct

Susie Samuel MA VetMB MRCVS

After working as a vet for several years Susie was struck by how difficult it can be for pet owners to decide how urgently they need to call a vet, especially in the middle of the night, when their pet is showing signs of being unwell. Given a pet can’t tell you what’s wrong sometimes it can be difficult to work out how serious their symptoms are. Susie wanted to provide a professional resource for concerned pet owners that would help them to decide whether their pet needed veterinary attention, and would provide them with vital first aid advice that was customised for their pet’s situation.

Susie is a small animal vet, with a particular interest in small animal medicine. She works in a practice near Fareham and has a very lively terrier called Freddie. You can click here to follow Susie on Twitter

Neil Forbes BVetMed DipECAMS CBiol MIBiol FRCVS RCVS Specialist Zoo Animal and Wildlife Medicine (Avian) and European Specialist in Avian Medicine and Surgery

Neil Forbes Neil Forbes graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 1983, after a short period in Herriot country he settled in the SW.   Neil became an RCVS Recognised Specialist in Zoo and Wildlife Medicine (avian) in 1992.  He gained his FRCVS in 1996 and became a European College Diplomate and Specialist in 1997.  He is currently President of the European College of Avian Medicine and Surgery.  Neil is head of the exotic animal department at Great Western Referrals, where he treats first and second opinion cases.  The case load at the practice includes rabbits, ferrets, other small furries, raptors, parrots, waterfowl, exotic zoo species, back yard poultry, reptiles – in fact anything apart from cats, dogs, horses and farm stock.

Richard P C Coomer MA Vet MB Cert ES (Soft Tissue) Dipl ECVS MRCVS European recognised specialist in Equine Surgery

Richard grew up in James Herriot country in North Yorkshire, graduating from Cambridge University in 2001. He initially worked in Morocco and his native North Yorkshire before completing an internship in equine medicine and surgery in Belgium. He then spent a short time working in first line equine practice in Kent before moving to the University of Liverpool, where he completed a residency in gastroenterology and soft tissue surgery in 2006. Since then he has worked as surgeon in York and Shrewsbury before a stint as assistant professor of equine surgery at Justus Liebig University, Giessen, Germany. He started working at Cotts Farm Equine Clinic, an ambulatory and referral practice in West Wales, in March 2008. There he now accounts for the majority of the surgical caseload of the practice. He passed his European Diploma in Equine Surgery in July 2008, gaining European specialist status in the process. He is currently enrolled for the RCVS diploma in equine soft tissue surgery. He is interested in all aspects of equine surgery, in particular minimally invasive surgery, gastroenterology and the management of wounds. In his spare time he enjoys cycling and mountain walking.

Nich Roper BVetMed DBR MRCVS

Nich comes from a farming background in Norfolk. After qualifying in 1992 he worked in a large mixed practice in Kent where he developed his interest in herd and flock health and production. In 1995 he moved to Charter Veterinary Hospital Group, a large mixed practice in North Devon where he continued to develop his interests in mastitis, lameness, nutrition and in particular cattle reproduction. Nich became a partner in 2003 where he co leads the farm animals side of the practice. In 2004 he obtained the Diploma in Bovine Reproduction. He is optimistic that farming has a future and believes in the important role of the veterinary surgeon as part of the farming team to improve animal health, welfare and business development regardless how big or small. Nich is married with two daughters and is a keen squash player.

Karen Rickards PhD, BVSc, MRCVS, Principal Veterinary Surgeon, Donkey Sanctuary.

Qualified from Bristol 1994 and worked in equine practice for 4 years before undertaking a PhD in equine allergic airway disease at The Royal Veterinary College. Carried on working in this field as a post doc before taking up a lectureship in pharmacology at King’s College, London. Started working at The Donkey Sanctuary in 2007. Main interest has always been lower airway inflammatory disease and the pharmacology of inflammation. Since working at The Donkey Sanctuary a new area of interest is pain recognition and its management in donkeys.

Jenny Sheriff BVM&S MRCVS

Jenny qualified from Edinburgh University and spent the first four years working full-time as a small animal vet in Somerset, gaining general experience in a large first opinion practice. She then moved to East Devon and has worked part-time there ever since, whilst also running a boarding kennels and cattery with her husband, and bringing up their three children. During this time, Jenny took part in a trip to Cyprus to help neuter large numbers of stray cats and improve their welfare, work which has continued since with the help of other volunteers. Jenny currently works as a part-time locum vet in a number of practices in Devon. The family has two boxers and three cats.

David Harris BVSc PGCert VetEd FHEA MRCVS

Originally from Dartmoor in Devon, David graduated from Bristol Vet School in 2005. He has spent several years in equine, farm and small animal practice, developing a particular interest in pharmacology and anaesthetics. Following an injury in 2009, he moved out of large animal practice and after several years in small animal practice and industry, currently splits his time between lecturing at Cornwall College and working with the VetHelpDirect team. He lives on a West Devon smallholding, and enjoys walking and studying archaeology.

David Kalcher RVN, A1, Dip.CW (CTJT)

David qualified as a veterinary nurse in 2002 after completing training at Myerscough Animal College in Preston and the Animal Care College in Ascot. His first practice was a very busy small animal veterinary hospital on the Isle of Wight, where he gained experience of procedures from emergency medicine to orthopaedic nursing. He rose from Student Veterinary Nurse to Head Nurse of the practice and helped with teaching other student nurses. After leaving this practice, David taught at the Isle of Wight College subjects including animal care and distance learning courses, helping to set up the college’s very first animal unit. David then went back into a mixed practice as a Head Nurse on the Island, where he gained valuable skills in practice management and tuition of other nursing staff. This culminated in the practice been awarded training status for veterinary nurses and David becoming a veterinary nurse assessor. David’s last practice was a one vet small animal surgery, which David helped set up from scratch, using his skills as a nurse and practice manager. Before joining Vet Help Direct, David had assisted in gaining over 3000 clients for the small practice in 18 months. David has a love of writing and marketing, he has trained as a copywriter and recently was awarded a national diploma for it. He has also completed a diploma in blogging, and uses all these skills in his role as Veterinary Social Media Account Manager.

Martin Jones MA VetMB MRCVS

Martin qualified from Cambridge Vet School in 1994 and, having enjoyed being a student so much, stayed on as a member of teaching staff. He then got the first of a series of stimulating jobs in the real world and has since worked in almost every part of general practice, lately with a particular interest in small animal charity work. The only really bad bit has been inspecting inner-city abattoirs, with being gored by a bull a very distant second. He has also spent time as a lecturer in veterinary nursing and as a stay-at-home dad, which should be compulsory for all fathers, but now that the children are otherwise occupied in the daytime, he works as a locum in Cornwall. In his spare time, he pursues interests in emergency animal rescue (as a Coastguard and volunteer for BDMLR) and the Law, which he is studying to become a qualified Legal Executive.

Dr Roger Mugford

Dr Roger Mugford is a psychologist and farmer who introduced the concept of behavioural therapy to the veterinary profession by founding The Animal Behaviour Centre in 1979. Since then, his referral practice is seen as the leading authority in the field and has seen more than 50,000 pets. He invented the Halti headcollar plus other training and reward based behaviour aids distributed by The Company of Animals, of which he is Managing Director. Roger is a patron of Dogs for the Disabled, a trustee of Cancer and Bio-detection Dogs and was awarded The Blue Cross Welfare Award in 2005. His major current pre-occupation is the defence of dogs facing unjust treatment before the law with owners living in either palaces or in poverty.

Marie Kubiak BVSc MRCVS

Marie graduated from Bristol University in 2006, following placements within zoos, exotic practice and an elective placement in the Avian department atGreat Western Referrals. She then moved to Kent to take up a position as a first opinion exotics vet, before returning to Great Western Referrals in March 2008 as a Resident in Avian and Exotic medicine. Marie now works full-time atManor Vets in Birmingham seeing first opinion and referral exotic species. She has completed the RCVS Certificate of Advanced Veterinary practice with distinctions in the avian and reptile examinations and a credit in small pet mammals. She is now studying for the European Diploma in Zoological Medicine (Avian). Over the last few years she has kept and bred a wide variety of lizards and snakes from 2cm dwarf geckos up to an 8ft red tail boa, as well as one very nervous cat!


Born and raised in New York State, Amy graduated from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 2006. Two years later she met her English husband and moved to the UK where she enjoyed working in veterinary practices in Esher, Shepperton and Richmond. In 2013, with the aim of eliminating the stress associated with cats travelling to the vet, Amy startedThe Cat Doctor – a feline-only home visiting veterinary service in Surrey. Her academic interests lie in feline preventative medicine and internal medicine, and she has always had a particular soft spot for older cats. She currently resides in Coulsdon with her husband/business partner, two young boys and three cats. Having given up her easy life in the clinic to concentrate on treating cats in the comfort of their own home, she realises there is more to learn from her patients every day.

Shanika Winters BA MA VetMB MRCVS

Shanika qualified as a vet in 2000, after 6 years of studying at Cambridge University and then moved back to Lancashire to start her career in small animal veterinary practice. Her first job was in the practice she had known from childhood, and here she developed a keen interest in teaching. Her next small animal vet post involved training as a veterinary nurse assessor. 2006 brought her back to Cambridgeshire where she continued in small animal practice and nurse training. Following the birth of her first Daughter she started to work as a part time small animal locum. Shortly before the birth of her second daughter she started charity veterinary work with the RSPCA. Upon finishing maternity leave she has started to write for Vethelpdirect and is also running a study club for her colleagues and friends in the profession. Shanika is now settled in Cambridgeshire; with her husband, two daughters and her menagerie of rescued pets including cats, chickens, guinea pigs and a rather naughty rabbit.

Giving medication to pets: a necessary but challenging task

I have a great deal of respect for owners who uncomplainingly carry out my treatment instructions. When the healthy animal returns for a final check up, I often feel that I should present the owner with a medal, a prize, and a "Congratulations" card for successful completion of the entire course of medication.