Rare pacemaker for labrador

LABRADOR Jai has no trouble picking up the pace these days.

Jai the Labrador has had a pacemaker fitted to correct a problem with his heart. Jai with owner Sharon Thomas.

Jai the Labrador has had a pacemaker fitted to correct a problem with his heart. Jai with owner Sharon Thomas.

But that wasn’t the story a mere three weeks ago.

Owner and labrador breeder Sharon Thomas had noticed Jai was lacking in energy and slightly off his food but put it down to old age.

A routine test during his regular vaccinations revealed the seven-year-had a third degree heart block, leading Jai to become Greencross Vet’s first canine client to have a pacemaker inserted.

The operation was carried out on June 10 by veterinarian cardiac specialist Dr Richard Woolley at Malvern’s Pet Emergency & Specialist Centre.

And, even though the operation wasn’t cheap at $4000, Ms Thomas said it was all worth it.

  “I couldn’t just sit back and watch him die,” she said.

Greencross Vets veterinarian surgeon Dr Rebecca Jennings said animal’s heartbeats were routinely tested as part of every vaccination, which picked up Jai had a very low heart rate.

An ECG showed the third degree block, or abnormal electrical disturbance, and an enlarged heart.

“Without treatment, the prognosis was poor, usually about six months,” Dr Jennings said.

Under general anaesthetic, Dr Woolley threaded a lead down Jai’s jugular vein and permanently attached a pacing generator near his shoulder, allowing him to return home the following day.

Since then, his energy levels and appetite have had Ms Thomas on her toes.

Dr Jennings said dogs having pacemakers installed was quite rare.

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