The Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET)

Project Overview

SAVSNET is a disease surveillance system developed to improve companion animal disease surveillance at local, regional and national levels.  This is achieved through using electronic health records (EHR’s) from veterinary practices diagnostic laboratories across the UK.

The benefits of knowing more about pet animal disease in the UK are huge.  Interventions can be targeted to those animals most at risk and risk factors for disease can be identified.  This enables veterinary research efforts to be focused where needed.

There is an important link between human and animal health.  In addition to improving animal health, SAVSNET also aims to take a “One Health” approach to improve human health by investigating this link further. Current work includes is focussed on shared diseases (e.g. Lyme disease), zoonotic diseases (e.g. some causes of gastroenteritis), and antibacterial use and resistance.

Start: 2012 – ongoing

Funded by: British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) and University of Liverpool

Disease Area Impacted

Small animal veterinary diseases and zoonotic disease

Data Source

SAVSNET collects anonymised electronic health record (EHR) data from veterinary practices, includings animal signalment (age, gender, species, breed, postcode), clinical narrative, treatment, prescribed and syndromic information. Data from veterinary practices is submitted in real-time through practices patient management systems.

Uniquely, each consultation record is supplemented by the attending clinician with a real-time syndrome badge. Data are collected in real-time.

In addition to this, data from veterinary diagnostic laboratories is collected to determine the number of confirmed cases for a wide range of infectious diseases.  As well as test result, we collect anonymised patient information and the postcode of the submitting clinician. Data are collected from monthly to real-time depending on the laboratory.


Work underway involves producing a tick forecast for the year from analysis of consultations where a tick was removed from an animal in the veterinary practice.  This has been mapped against climate, and has important implications for human health.

Natural language processing has been completed to identify how long owners wait until they take their pets to the veterinary practice to seek help for behavioural phobias.  This provides veterinary practices with an evidence base on which to base their client education.

There is a great deal of interest in antimicrobial resistance which is important for both human and animal health.  SAVSNET continues to work in this area by identifying the use of such treatments and mapping resistance in the UK.



A key vision of SAVSNET is for the findings to be accessible to those interested in small animal health and welfare. Through the SAVSNET website, simple disease summaries and accessible by everyone including veterinary surgeons, nurses, pet owners, animal charities, government organisations, and commercial companies. Such information can be used as an evidence base for good veterinary practice and responsible pet ownership.

Our data is available to scientists through a transparent Data Access and Publication Panel. SAVSNET data is already being used for veterinary teaching and clinical and epidemiological research on a wide range of projects including gastroenteritis, renal disease, and antibacterial use.

The lower sensitivity of our data compared to human health records, and its associated relative ease of access means our animal health records may be used to develop methods ultimately for use on human health data.

Participating veterinary practices and laboratories benefit from a secure online portal where they can explore their own data in more detail.  Veterinary surgeons and nurses can use the portal for benchmarking and to assess their own practice, for example by comparing their use of antimicrobial treatments.

Intended Outcomes

The vision for SAVSNET is to:

Be a major supplier of health informatics data and expertise on companion animals in the UK.

Provide for surveillance and early warning of emerging diseases in companion animals such as influenza.

Link our animal health data with equivalent human datasets, pioneering a “One Health informatics” approach of human and animal disease.

Monitor the current and future disease status of the small animal (mainly dog, cat and rabbit) population of the United Kingdom.

Promote the health and welfare of the small animal population.

Provide a valuable source of information for the general public and professional and other organisations on the management of disease in small animals.

Highlight the value of veterinary practices and diagnostic laboratory services in the frontline of disease.

Researchers Involved

Dr Alan Radford

Dr PJ Noble

Dr Philip Jones

Dr Fernando Sanchez Vizcaino Buendia

Dr Jenny Newman

David Singleton