Doctors and vets save dogs’ lives with pioneering technique

A cutting edge technique has been used to save the lives of dogs with dodgy tickers. Veterinary cardiologists at Davies Veterinary Specialists (DVS) have teamed up with human doctors from St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. Their pioneering procedure is used regularly in human medicine but is rarely available for pets.

Dogs with fast, irregular heartbeats can show weakness, fainting, difficulty exercising and at worst, sudden death. Previously complex and expensive drugs were the only option but now some pets can be treated in the same way as people.

Veterinary cardiologist Pedro Oliveira and his team at DVS have been working with human doctors from St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. Together, they have adapt a procedure called radiocatheter ablation.

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There are only three or four centres in the world that perform these procedures routinely on veterinary patients. Pedro is the only veterinary cardiologist currently performing the technique in the UK.

Jake, a three-year-old Labrador Retriever, is one of seven dogs who have been cured so far by Pedro and the team. Jake suffered from life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia, causing his heart to beat too fast (over 250 beats per minute) for prolonged periods.

Jake had been diagnosed with this condition a number of months ago and responded to medical treatment (anti-arrhythmic drugs) until recently. Unfortunately the drugs stopped working and his heart was sustaining damage and showing early signs of weakness. The radiocatheter ablation has cured his condition completely and he can now lead a normal healthy life.

Jake’s owner, Mrs Chapman from Staffordshire, said: “We would like to thank everyone at Davies Veterinary Specialists for looking after Jake during his three day stay in April 2016. Special thanks to Pedro Oliveira and his cardiac team for operating on Jake and correcting his heart condition.

“Jake is no longer taking any medication and has made a full recovery. We now have a much happier, more energetic Labrador, ready for walks and play at every opportunity. Jake seems to have a smile on his face everyday now and is enjoying life to the full.”

“We have treated seven patients in the past year, all with success and without complications” said Dr Oliveira. “Unfortunately a significant proportion of candidates for these procedures are in desperate situations with failing hearts and after all drugs have failed before they reach us. Hopefully, with greater awareness of the availability of this procedure, we can treat more patients before it gets to be that bad.”

Dr Clive Elwood, managing director of Davies Veterinary Specialists says “This is a great example of how our team of specialists can deliver ground-breaking and innovative care, which makes a real difference for both patients and their loving owners.“

Pedro Oliveira is happy to discuss the suitability of cases with vets managing dogs with arrhythmias. Contact him at or find out more at

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