V-Tach Jack

Written by Kari Searcy, DVM on . Posted in RVVS Blog


On occasion the doctors at River Valley Veterinary Service have some down time to write a little blurb about an interesting case that we want to share with all of our pet parents…well brothers and sisters too.

Meet Jack.

Jack is an 11 year old male neutered Labrador Retriever.  Jack is a senior canine, but typically not much slows him down. His parents had noticed that he hadn’t been himself through the weekend.  Jack would go swimming and come back more tired than usual.  In the morning, he seemed to perk up but not want to eat his breakfast.

Later in the morning, Jack was very lethargic and his astute Dad noticed that his heart appeared to be racing. Jack was rushed to RVVS for further evaluation. Upon evaluation, Jack had a heart rate of 300 beats per minute! To give perspective, normal is around 100 beats per minute.

Jack was immediately placed on an ECG to identify that abnormality. The ECG indicated that his heart had an electrical abnormality called, ventricular tachycardia. In a normal heart beat, the electrical signal stimulates the top two chambers of the heart (atria) and further sends the electrical wave to the bottom two chambers (ventricles) thus causing the heart to beat in a normal, effective pattern.

Screenshot 2016 08 04 16.57.16

In Jack’s case, the electrical signal was skipping the top two chambers and only allowing the bottom chambers to pump blood! Well this creates a very ineffective, abnormal beat. When our pets’ hearts are not working normally, they become very lethargic and fatigued. Furthermore, the heart often beats at a very fast rate (tachycardia) to ensure blood is going to all of the organs.

Jack had an intravenous catheter placed and was given a bolus of lidocaine to help correct this electrical abnormality. After a dose of lidocaine, Jack’s heart began to beat normally and he started to feel much better! Once stabilized, Jack went to visit the University of MN CVM Cardiology Department for further monitoring and treatment.  Today Jack is feeling much better and glad to be back home!

Kari Searcy, DVM