Dr. Jason Arndt, Idaho’s only board certified veterinary cardiologist, performed a pacemaker surgery on a beloved pet, “Rosie,” who now has a great prognosis and can expect many more happy years with her family.
Both the length and quality of a dog’s life can be extended through cardiology specialty care—diagnostics and treatments similar to human medicine. Recently Dr. Arndt performed a pacemaker procedure for a beloved family pet:
Rosie is a 6-year-old Dachshund that presented for a very low heart rate (40 beats/minute); she was examined and this was determined to be due to a block in conduction in her heart (third-degree atrioventricular block).
This conduction problem is not responsive to medications, and if left untreated will lead to progressively lower heart rates, fainting, and a dramatically shortened lifespan. Using a device called fluoroscopy (a live time x-ray), we were able to place a permanent pacemaker into Rosie’s heart and restore it to a normal heart rate of 100 beats per minute.
Assuming long-term success of the procedure, Rosie is now expected to live normally from this problem given the pacemaker can control her heart rate.
Your family veterinarian can refer you to Dr. Arndt for an echocardiogram and ECG. These are pain-free, nonintrusive means to diagnose cardiac diseases. If a pathologically slow heart rate is detected, additional diagnostics will ensure that your pet is a good candidate for pacemaker surgery.
The actual procedure takes 1-2 hours to complete. For most dogs, a pacemaker is inserted through a small neck incision, then placed in position with the aid of fluoroscopy (continuous X-ray). Cats require abdominal placement due to the small size of their blood vessels.
Following the procedure, your pet will remain hospitalized at WestVet overnight to enable our team to provide continuous heart rate monitoring and to ensure proper function of the pacemaker. Most dogs go home the day after the procedure with instructions for post-operative care.
Your pet will see Dr. Arndt for a re-check appointment to evaluate pacemaker function and battery life about 4-6 weeks following placement and then every 6-12 months.
One of the real benefits of this surgery?
The majority of pacemaker patients do not require lifelong cardiac medications and once they are healed, are able to resume normal activity.
If you have concerns about your pet’s quality of life, stamina, or health it is always appropriate to see your family veterinarian; if your veterinarian is unavailable WestVet provides 24-hour emergency veterinary care to pets in the Treasure Valley.