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Heart Block (Complete) in Dogs



The ultimate goal of therapy is to clear the blockage of electrical impulses at the AV node. To achieve this, a special device called a pacemaker is used to resolve the electrical impulse conduction problems and normalize the heart's beating. (Chest x-rays are taken to confirm the proper placement of pacemaker.) Both temporary and permanent pacemakers are available, and your veterinarian will recommend which will work best for your dog. The blockage can be rectified surgically too, but this is often riskier for the dog.


Living and Management


If your dog has had a pacemaker implanted, he will require extra care as well as cage rest. Typically, permanent pacemakers are placed in a pocket created surgically under the skin. To prevent the pacemaker from moving, a bandage is applied over the surgical wound for three to five days. Because pacemakers are battery operated, a malfunction can occur at any time; the pacemaker may also become infected, dislodged, or run out of battery. In such cases, the dog's heart may again go into a complete atrioventricular block. Therefore, it is vital that you restrict the dog's movements and monitor him for untoward symptoms.


Depending on the severity of the underlying disease, the dog's diet may require modifying. In addition, you will need to visit your veterinarian at regular intervals for ECG and chest radiography, which are used to assess proper pacemaker function. Unfortunately, long term prognosis of dogs with complete atrioventricular block is very poor.




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