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Pacemakers for Dogs

March 25, 2012 by Tails Magazine in Home with 1 Comment
Dik and his handler Amador Zapata. Photo Credit: SCO Eugene Moriarty

Dik and his handler Amador Zapata. Photo Credit: SCO Eugene Moriarty

Rocky the Boxer was adopted four years ago as protection for his caretaker, a bail bondsman, Pat Pruett. Although Rocky may have been adopted in large part to provide a sense of security for Pat, no surprise, he quickly became part of the family.

A few months ago, Rocky started having episodes where he would collapse—up to 10 times a day. Pruett took Rocky to the vet where it was discovered he had a serious heart condition.

Rocky’s vet sent him to a canine cardiologist who determined his heart just wasn’t strong enough to support the 125-pound dog. Not willing to give up on him, Pruett opted for further treatment. Pruett herself had suffered a major heart attack 10 years ago so she knew they could help Rocky get healthy again.

What Rocky needed was a pacemaker. Pruett had never heard of putting a pacemaker in an animal, but was glad there were options to help Rocky get better again.

“Between 100 and 200 pacemakers are implanted into animals—mostly dogs but some cats and horses—in the United States each year,” notes Dr. David Sisson, a veterinary cardiologist at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital in Urbana (cbp.gov).

The surgery was a success for Rocky, and pacemakers have helped other dogs as well. “Dik,” a Belgian Malinois and Texas U.S. Customs Canine Enforcement dog, also had a life-threatening heart condition that made him a candidate for a pacemaker. His vet noticed a few issues in his annual physical which prompted her to order some blood work—she discovered that he also had a deadly heart condition.

This surgery was a success as well, and Dik returned to work after a speedy recovery. Just two days after his return, he alerted to 84.37 pounds of marijuana hidden inside the tires of a vehicle. He continues to rack up busts to this day!

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