05 April 2022

A constantly collapsing canine has undergone emergency life-saving surgery here at Willows to cure his dangerously low heartbeat.

Seven-year-old German Shepherd, Dexter, was suffering from a condition called Persistent Atrial Standstill (PAS), which was causing him to crash to the floor every few minutes, leaving his devoted owners fearing they might lose their beloved pet.

However, Dexter was swiftly referred to us as an emergency out-of-hours case for expert care.

RCVS and European specialist in small animal cardiology Fabio Sarcinella decided to operate on the same night Dexter was admitted because the dog’s condition was so serious.

Fabio said: “Dexter was collapsing every few minutes, even with minimal exercise, as his heart rate continued to slow down alarmingly.

“We carried out an electrocardiogram (ECG) which confirmed the diagnosis of Persistent Atrial Standstill (PAS), which occurs when the top chamber of the heart stops working and results in a very low heart rate.

“In Dexter’s case, his heart rate could go as low as 36 beats per minute, causing his collapsing episodes. The normal heart rate is between 80 and 120 beats per minute.

“In the circumstances, the only available treatment for Dexter was the fitting of an emergency pacemaker, which is a small device that sends electrical impulses to the heart to keep it beating regularly and not too slowly.

“Those electrical impulses reach the heart through a wire (pacemaker lead) that is inserted into the heart via one of the body vessels.”

Dexter recovered well from surgery and was allowed home just two days later, much to the delight and relief of his concerned owner Daniel Pickup, from Boston in Lincolnshire.

He said: “Willows gave us hope in a really difficult time – just what any pet owner would want – and they have quite literally given Dexter his life back. 

“Although the diagnosis was a shock, the opportunity to give him a good life again with a pacemaker was not a hard decision to make.

“The prognosis without treatment was not positive at all and we weren’t prepared to lose him at such a young age.

“We knew the operation came with risks and that there could be complications but we felt as if we were in safe hands. Fabio was extremely knowledgeable and reassuring throughout the whole process.

“We have since returned to see Fabio for Dexter’s first post-operative check and the results show what a success it has been.”