Our four legged best friends are benefitting from human medicine much the way that we sometimes benefit from veterinary medicine. For approximately 40 years, pets have been receiving pace makers, a device that often prolongs and improves the quality of their life by jumpstarting their hearts and keeping their heart rate from becoming irregular. Just as in humans, as pets’ age, their organs can become tired and worn out. Devices like pacemakers make it possible for pets to enjoy time with their families for a bit longer than would be possible without the device.
Veterinary cardiologists at Colorado State University are making the surgery for implantation of a pacemaker into a pet a bit more affordable by using pacemakers donated from human cadavers. Although the devices cannot be reused in another human, they are still viable options for pets. The cost of surgery with a brand new pacemaker is approximately $10,000 and while many pet owners would pay the expense to keep their best friend happy and healthy, it is over five times the cost of a surgery to implant a cadaver pacemaker. Pacemakers do require a few special considerations and commitments from pets’ human companions as batteries must be checked yearly and the pet can no longer wear a collar, both small prices to pay for precious time with a best friend. The pacemakers are donated by families and individuals much the way that organ donation and tissue donations benefit other humans. Average age for implantation occurs between 6 and 10 years of age based on information provided to KMGH news by CSU veterinary cardiologist Jan Bright. As with all surgery, a pet’s general overall health must be considered when determining if they are a good candidate for the surgery. Ask Animal Central for more information about pets and pacemakers.
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Dr. George Stroberg, DVM and Staff