A TERRIER has been given an early Christmas present of life after becoming the first dog in Scotland to be fitted with a human pacemaker.
The Dandie Dinmont terrier, named Angus, was facing imminent death from a heart condition at the age of two.
But after specialist vets fitted an adapted human pacemaker, Angus can look forward to a decade of life.
The device was fitted – in a operation believed to have cost around £10,000 – on Saturday and Angus could be home by tomorrow (Wed).
The pet from Larbert, near Falkirk, was diagnosed with a heart blockage after collapsing on a walk.
The condition caused a slow heartbeat, which did not increase when Angus was running around, meaning he could not exercise properly.
A team, including three veterinary cardiologists, a specialist veterinary anaesthetist and two nurses, have now fitted the matchbox-sized device worth £1,000, and Angus should be able to live a normal life.
The pacemaker controller is located in the dog’s neck with a wire passed into his heart via the jugular vein. The device detects activity from Angus’ heart and sends electrical pulses to regulate it if it is not functioning properly.
It can even detect whether he is sleeping or exercising and vets can change the device settings without operating on him again.
Angus’ owner, Ian Morrison, said the usually energetic pet began to show signs of his condition a few weeks ago.
He said: “He’s such a lively little dog and has always been healthy. But a few weeks ago we took him out for a walk in Culross and he just lay down. We thought he was just fooling around, but then he did it again.
“He was not quite himself when we got back and he slept for the rest of the day.”
Ian’s 16-year-old son Fraser added: “All of a sudden he just came to a halt, he was very tired, he was sleeping a lot. He wasn’t very lively, he just looked really depressed.”
Mr Morrison continued: “The fact that Angus is only two, and had been very healthy, made fitting a pacemaker a viable option for him. But it’s an expensive procedure – it’s just as well we have insurance for him.”
He added that Angus, who was a Christmas present from his Mother-in-law, was normally a very playful dog.
He said: “He’s two years old but he’s still like a puppy, he loves to get up to mischief.
“We are looking forward to having him home because we need someone to open all the Christmas presents before we get to them. We have to keep him quiet which is going to be a challenge because he’s as wild as the wind.”
The operation was carried out at a veterinary hospital in Dunfermline by veterinary cardiologists Craig Devine and Yolanda Martinez Perriera.
Mr Devine said: “He is very precious to his owners. He was presented to us as he was having trouble exercising. He had gone from being a lively dog to a state where he had lost his mojo.
“His heart rate was about 40 beats per minute when we met him. For a normal dog in a clinic their rates would be up at 120 to 140 beats per minute, so he was at risk of his heart stopping and him dying suddenly.
“By placing the pacemaker we are able to artificially alter his heart rate to keep him healthy.
“It’s going to change his life. It’s like turning on a switch and turning a lethargic dog back to normal. It’s a privilege to be able to do that.”
Mr Devine estimates that Angus could live to 14 years old, but says it’s possible he could need to change the device’s battery at some point in Angus’ life as they are designed to last around nine years.
Dandie Dinmonts are classed by the Kennel Club as a vulnerable breed, meaning there are fewer than 300 puppies registered each year.