Bryce - Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in College Station, Texas Bryce - Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital


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Bryce, a Labrador mix, is a modern medical marvel. Considered a young dog to receive a pacemaker, Bryce was implanted with the heart-regulating device in 2002 at the age of four, and in March of this year, Bryce's pacemaker battery was replaced.

In the majority of cases, pacemakers are implanted in older dogs who will not likely outlive the battery life.

Brin Graham, however, recognized a decline in Bryce's energy level and brought her in for a checkup. Graham thought Bryce was suffering from old age, but cardiologists discovered Bryce's pacemaker battery performance was declining as it slowly ran out. Rather than stop completely, pacemaker batteries-much like watches-deteriorate by performing at half-capacity, rather than stopping completely. An abnormal decrease in heart rate is a trigger that the battery needs to be replaced, Saunders said.

"We were throwing the ball in the street in front of the house and Bryce began to have what we thought were seizures," Graham said. "We called A&M and brought her in-we liked the idea of A&M being a teaching hospital. We knew the problem was something related to her pacemaker. In retrospect, my husband and I thought she was getting older, but that wasn't the case at all. As soon as her battery was replaced, she was back to normal and she's doing great."

While pacemaker operations are not uncommon, Bryce's experience proved the effectiveness and reliability of the pacemaker as a way to regulate heart rates despite the device running on a battery. Bryce's experience has brought the Graham family together and has been a way of reaching out to neighbors.

"Our neighbor brought their dog to TAMU for a heart-related surgery. It's comforting to find out someone you know has gone through the same experience with their dog," Graham said.

Excerpt written by Emily Baker for CVM Today.