Pacemaker Gives “McGougan” the Dog a Whole New Life

December 20, 2012

BOSTON, Dec. 20, 2012 – An 11-year-old West Highland Terrier named “McGougan” is home with his family after Angell Animal Medical Center cardiologists inserted a pacemaker in his chest to steady his heartbeat and improve his quality of life, the world-renowned Boston-based animal hospital announced today.  While the equipping of pets with pacemakers is not new, McGougan is the latest canine patient to illustrate how companion animals are benefiting significantly from life-saving medical procedures initially designed for humans.

When McGougan was first brought to Angell he was lethargic and, even more worrisome, he had been collapsing because his heart could not keep pace with the spirited canine’s active life.  His owners, Dana and Martha Robes of Round Pond, Maine, had already taken him to a veterinarian who diagnosed him with an abnormally slow heart rate and an arrhythmia—which caused his heart to stop beating for up to five seconds at a time.   “Our once highly active and playful dog began to slow down and seemed to have trouble catching his breath,” said Martha.  Upon discovering the abnormal heart activity their veterinarian recommended the Robes bring McGougan to Angell for treatment.

Angell Cardiologist Dr. Rebecca Malakoff implants the pacemaker into McGougan's chest (credit: MSPCA-Angell)

Angell’s Long History of Heart Health Breakthroughs

Said Dr. Rebecca Malakoff—a member of the four-doctor cardiology team at Angell, who specializes in diagnosis and treatment of heart disease in pets—“Many people don’t know that the very devices that have bolstered the health of humans with abnormal heart rhythms have actually been in use by the veterinary community for more than half a century.  The pacemaker is just one of the many innovations modeled for human healthcare that the veterinary world has adapted to meet the ongoing care needs of pets.”

Malakoff emphasized that McGougan was an excellent candidate for the procedure.  “It was clear to our team that his family took excellent care of McGougan.  Overall he’s a very healthy and robust dog, and we were confident the pacemaker could help him return to his old self.”  Eager to help restore their dog’s health the Robes decided to go through with the procedure. 

McGougan’s Heart Finds a Whole New Rhythm
On Wednesday, Dec. 5 the Robes brought McGougan to Angell and the cardiology team prepared him for the procedure.  During the surgery, a special wire was inserted into the jugular vein under McGougan’s skin and guided into his heart.  This wire was then attached to the pacemaker which, once implanted under the skin of his neck, immediately began monitoring McGougan’s heart and “pacing” it to beat in a consistent rhythm.

Less than a week after his procedure McGougan is home and, according to Martha, clearly ready to return to a life of running, jumping and playing.  “He’ll never know that this technology is inside him and helping him to be the dog we’ve known and loved for more than a decade—but his energy levels have already increased significantly and for that we are both excited and grateful!”

Readers who want to know more about Angell’s cardiology service can click here.





Angell Animal Medical Center cares for more than 50,000 animals a year and is one of the most acclaimed veterinary practices in the country. Angell has 67 doctors and an experienced support staff who work as a team to ensure high quality general wellness, emergency and specialty care. With 31 board-certified specialists and technology that includes an MRI specifically designed for animals, Angell is committed to providing a broad range of specialized expertise and experience, but delivers this care with one-on-one compassion that animals and their owners deserve. Angell is open for emergencies 24 hours of every day of the year, and offers night and weekend appointments with our specialty services.