Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ike has a big heart, but it beats too slow

We brought Ike to his first veterinary visit since coming to live with us. He'd been eating well, was full of energy, and the only thing that bothered us was that he seemed to be losing weight. We go to Nassau Veterinary Clinic and they have been taking great care of our pets for many years.

















The vet seemed to take a long time listening to Ike's heart and at first I wondered if she heard something wrong. Then I dismissed it. It's probably nothing. No worries.

The vet did have a worry, though. "His heart rate is only 40," she said. She explained that a dog's heart rate should be between 80-100, even 120. She took his pulse behind his right front leg, on his ribcage. "He drops some beats, as well."

This is the type of news no pet parent wants to hear. Something serious may be wrong with your pet.

Last Friday we went back for some follow-up tests with Dr. Dietrich, who is the cardiac specialist there. She said that at 40 beats/minute, most dogs would be having some episodes of fainting. Ike has not had anything like that. He loves taking long walks and chasing his tennis ball and doesn't seem overly exhausted when we're done. She took  his pulse again, this time on the femoral artery behind the back leg. She got a reading of 70. Still low, but much better than 40. Based on these test results, she decided not to do the echocardiogram he'd been scheduled for (saving us $300!) but opted to do two types of EKGs. The first was performed on her cell phone!

She showed me how her phone had a special covering with sensors on the back.




















She simply held the phone against Ike's chest and it took the reading. Here are the results.

















Dr. Dietrich heard an arrhythmia that she wanted to investigate with a more detailed EKG. So they hooked Ike up. The probes clipped onto his skin. They had to put alcohol on the probes, the coldness of which made Ike flinch.




















But other than that he stayed still, although somewhat worried.
















Here is a short video of the procedure:



The doctor was satisfied with the results. Ike's heart rate is slow, but not enough that it needs to be treated at this point. We are to keep an eye on things and of course, report if he has any fainting or other episodes of concern. The arrhythmia is called a sinus arrhythmia and again, nothing too concerning at this point.

Everyone at Nassau vet is great and so caring about the pets. They treated Ike gently and explained everything to us as many times as we needed to hear it. Dr. Dietrich is extremely knowledgeable and patient, and has even called me at home to discuss our dogs' health concerns. We feel confident that our pets are in her care. Thank you Dr. Dietrich!

So we are still a bit concerned about Ike but as long as things continue to go well and Ike feels well, all should be fine. We still have to work on getting him to gain weight, which we'll attempt to do gradually with good quality food, enough calories, and more small meals spread out across the day.  For now, Ike gets to run and play with no worries!




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31 comments:

  1. Aww poor Ike! I hope that it's something that is treatable and doesn't slow him down in the long run. He's so dang cute! That EKG on her phone is a pretty awesome tool! Where can I get one? I wanna play doctor! ;)


    Good luck Ike! xoxo

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  2. Sending Lots of Golden LOVE to Ike. Glad you guys did some testing. That iPhone EKG is so cool ... Modern technology even for pets. We shared today on what food I eat. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

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  3. Great post Peggy and thank you for your compliments. The alive cor pad costs several hundred dollars but is a great screening tool. They even make a human version. Once the EKG is read, it then can be attached to the patient record. It's just one more way technology makes our life easier and may save lives. At Nassau Vet, we have detected many heart problems early especially in cats who show few symptoms. They then went to have a cardiac ultrasound and we found a heart problem before they threw a clot. This may have saved their life. I love my job because I can help so many people and their pets!
    Dr. Lisa Dietrich

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  4. The pets in Rensselaer County and beyond are lucky to have you! The Alive Cor pad was fascinating, it is amazing to see what else can be done with a smart phone. Thank you for caring for Ike and Kelly.

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  5. I hopped over and read your post Sugar. Great infographic. And thanks for the golden love for Ike!

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  6. According to Dr. Dietrich you can get one, it's called Alive Cor pad. So far Ike is full of energy and even loves to go running with my husband, so we've got fingers and paws crossed.

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  7. That's great! I'm gonna keep my toes, fingers, legs cross and Titan can keep his paws crossed for Ike ;)

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  8. I'm so glad Ike's prognosis turned out well and I'm fascinated by that cell phone gadget...medicine sure is changing

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  9. Roxanne @ Champion of My HeartSeptember 24, 2013 at 11:54 AM

    That is a little scary, but if Ike seems OK, then maybe he really is OK. We had to cancel Ginko's cardiac consult (EKG / echo) due to the massive flooding in CO recently, but we hope to get him in soon. Our vet is hearing an irregular heartbeat.

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  10. So scary. We are sending you all good vibes sweet Ike
    Benny & Lily

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  11. Great post! So glad you got him checked out! Our LittleBear had heart issues and we feel he could've lived longer if only we had seen a vet more knowledgeable and well-equipped to understand/treat cardiac issues. It's great that you seem to have a wonderful vet that you can trust!
    Thanks for sharing all the pictures and video... so helpful to actually SEE everything. And Ike was SO good to lay there perfectly still for the doctors! Oh Lord, my two would NEVER be that still... they'd have to be sedated for that kind of calmness.
    I hope that Ike's condition remains stable and doesn't slow him down a bit. What a sweet boy... I just want to hug him for being so good.

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  12. Woah. I've never seen anything like that cell phone EKG, but what an incredible tool! I'm relieved to hear that Ike is doing ok and that he feels well. We had to get Cooper to gain weight, and I added scoops of full-fat Greek yogurt to his kibble. That stuff has a TON of (delicious... creamy...) calories. I may have helped myself to a scoop or two, too! :)

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  13. The phone was cool. I asked if my phone could do that but you have to buy the $200 cover, lol. Thank you for the suggestion of the Greek yogurt. Some people have suggested sardines too but Greek yogurt sounds yummier!

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  14. I'm sorry about LittleBear (what a cute name). There are many new advances in medicine but also, we have to incur many expenses to use them as well. I was surprised Ike was so still too. He's a pretty chill boy, but he is a bit flinchy at the vet's sometimes.

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  15. Thank you for the purrs Brian. Ike woofs back, hope it doesn't scare you!

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  16. Thank you. The doctor was very nice to let me hold it and take pictures of it!

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  17. Such good news. I'm so glad that the Dr. ran these tests and that it doesn't seem to be as serious as it was. And the movie - very cool - thanks for sharing all of that with us - good education!

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  18. Technology is pretty cool! I'm glad that Ike is mostly okay, at least much better than you initially thought. Your vet sounds pretty awesome, too!

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  19. Wow - the things they can do today. I'm glad they think it is not too serious. Hopefully no symptoms show up and he's fine! Fingers crossed he stays fit and healthy!!

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  20. Hi Peggy. Wow. Ike's heartbeat is really slow. I pray that all is well. Those pads on the doctor's phone looks cool. It can make her device a life saver, which is pretty cool.

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  21. You wouldn't know it from watching him, either. He's full of energy and even runs and chases his tennis ball. Hope it's just one of those weird things that will resolve itself. Thanks for checking in!

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  22. Thanks....fingers and paws crossed!

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  23. I'm glad it hasn't caused your mom any serious trouble. I hope all continues to go well for both of them.

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  24. Thank you. My vet is pretty awesome. They are many vets located much closer but since we're happy there we're willing to travel a bit out of the way.

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  25. I know how Slimdoggy always likes to learn. Yes, it is good that it may not be too serious, we hope. We will have to keep an eye and an ear on things.

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  26. Found out my boy(12yrs and still my service dog, a yorkie) had heart problems in April while visiting a friend in upstate NY. He did well, then had to up his lasix. This caused his kidneys to fail. Got fluids, caused his heart to have problems. I think we have finally got things settled and are the even road now. It sure is scary. What a great vet you go to Peggy. I am thankful we have wonderful care here too. Nothing as fancy as yours though, lol. Good luck with Ike. Keeping you guys in our prayers.

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  27. Hi Kay thanks for sharing. I'm sorry your yorkie had heart problems too but glad you're in a good place now. My vet is great. We're actually in upstate NY! Thank you for the prayers :)

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  28. I am a good friend of Peggy's husband Mike and he asked me to copy a reply that I made on a thread he had started on Home Theater Forum regarding the EKG strip shown in this blog.

    "Mike:

    From the EKG that the vets iPhone showed it looks like your dog was having PACs or premature atrial contractions which can sometimes continue on to a higher degree heart block. The SA or sinus arrhythmia isn't that big of a deal but both point to a potential electrical conduction abnormality of the heart. The main things to watch out for is if the dog is less energetic, loses appetite or wants to sleep all the time (more so than usual). This type of arrhythmia can lead to a heart block that in the end would require a pacemaker (not sure if they have pacemakers for dogs).

    Thanks for the post. It is amazing what they can do with these portable devices now."


    I am a Cardiovascular RN by profession and have looked at more EKGs than anyone should and I picked up on the first strip as what is called Bigeminal PACs. The sinus arrhythmia that Dr. Dietrich saw on the EKG rhythm strip and the PACs can all point to what is called a conduction abnormality.



    Basically the heart has its own timing mechanism controlled by cells within the heart and when these cells, that control the rhythm of the heart, go haywire the heart starts to get out of rhythm. The upper chambers of the heart are the atria and the bottom the ventricles. The atria pump blood into the ventricles and the ventricles pump blood into the circulation. When the cells that control the atria stop working correctly back up cells take over and cause all sorts of issues. The bottom line is that when these atrial arrhythmia get bad enough the heart can really slow down and not enough blood gets circulated to the rest of the body. Hence the lethargy, loss of appetite, etc. And in that case often requires a pacemaker to help the heart out.



    Now I am talking about what happens in humans here. The expertise in this area is in the hands of Dr. Dietrich and other vets. As Will Rogers said "A veterinarian is the best doctor of all as their patients can tell them what is wrong with them". I really appreciate doctors such as Dr. Dietrich (whom I do not know unfortunately) that take the time to keep up to date on the latest tools to help take the best care of their patients and the humans that make them a part of their family.



    I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. As with any concerns you have over your animal's heath be sure to take them to your vet to have them examined.

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  29. Greek yogurt can be good for doggy digestive systems... although not in quantity. A scoop/day, max. But some dogs don't tolerate dairy well - watch out for flatulence, diarrhea or constipation, excessive thirst, signs of dehydration, or itchiness.

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  30. Thank you Parker for this thorough and thoughtful response. I appreciate your insights very much, and know those reading the comments here will also benefit from your expertise. As you say, Dr. Dietrich is a wonderful veterinarian and Ike is in good hands. Thank you for all you do to help keep others healthy, and for taking time to explain the EKG strip here. Your explanations truly help.

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  31. No problem. I am glad that Ike is doing well and that you are all the the good hands of Dr. Dietrich.

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Kelly and Ike say thank you for your comments!

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