pets and infections

This continues about a friends infection. His e-mail below. Has anyone been told that their dogs had caused an infection. I hope he is in for treatment as we speak.

hi Mike

The situation has gone worse, than I could imagine

I saw the infectious disease specialist yesterday, and he advised to remove the PMkr immediately, and I went over to see the cardiologist and surgeon, ready to plan the op.

They told me I have to get rid of my three medium sized dogs, they believe I received a knock or a small scratch to the PM area.

They told me I have 2 options,neither of them helpful or pleasant.

Option A, I have to go to the USA or Canada, as they can't do the complete procedure here, i.e. remove the leads

Option B; They can remove the PM here, cut the leads, and leave them in, and place the new PM in the abdomen, and attach it directly to the heart. The surgeon also told me that another surgeon would do that, a cardiac surgeon, and that he was just a 'veins' type of surgeon. I would have to be in hospital for 4 days, then on IV at home for some time. No dogs allowed at that time or there after as a knock to my abdomen could be fatal.

After the infection is gone, and some time in the near future, I would still have to go to Canada or USA to have the leads removed

What hurts the most is placing my adopted dogs back into the shelter, where no one will ever adopt them

Have you heard of anyone ever having the replacement PM inserted into the abdomen?

I trust the doctors here. They said I have to continue the AB's, but need to make a decision fast, either have it done here or go to Canada



by Swedeheart - 2008-04-30 01:04:11


I can't imagine that the dogs scratched enough to provide an infection... I would certainly be interested in knowing more about this... Surely if he got scratched he would have cleaned the little scratch and put some sort of antibiotic on the spot? Is every little scratch something for those of us with pacemakers a new thing to worry about? Yikes!

Yes, people do have the PM inseted into the abdomen. Usually in children. Here is a link that shows it a little bit... (scroll down):

Tell your friend good luck! Maybe if he advertises he can find someone nice to adopt his dogs rather than take them back to the shelter.


How many Leads

by wired - 2008-04-30 01:04:20

Hi there,

I live in British Columbia Canada. I work as a pacemaker technologist and have some knowledge of the explant process. Usually if there is a significant infection/erosion( PM pushed out of skin) docs may opt to remove system to left to right side, vis versa. This requires capping of the original leads. They will usually place up to four leads before routing for the laser extraction which is how it is done.

hope this helps


what a mess!

by CathrynB - 2008-04-30 01:04:22

Hi Mike,
What a sad story! Where does your friend live (what country?) If I were him, here's what I would do:

Since he's told he needs to go to the U.S./Canada anyway to have the leads removed, I'd skip the first step and have it all done at once. It's probably less expensive that way unless he lives in a country where the PM can be removed quite inexpensively. Personally I wouldn't want a "vascular guy" to remove my PM -- I'd want an EP or General Surgeon to do that part, and as recommended, only a skilled, very experienced person to remove the leads. I'm skeptical that the infection will completely and permanently clear up if only the PM is removed, but the leads are initially left in place, as they can also harbor infectious bacteria. I'd be leery of this approach from a medical standpoint.
As Swedeheart says, adbdominal placements are common in children, but I've never heard of that in an adult. The more common approach in the U.S. following a bad infection would be to remove the entire PM system (including leads), go on antibiotics to clear up the infection, and place the NEW pm on the opposite side of the chest. It sounds like possibly they would only do the abdominal placement with leads attached to the outside of the heart because the old leads are left in place with that approach. Doing it all at once, again, sounds like the faster, safer, possibly less costly approach.
Finally, again, if it were me, I'd explore other options to getting rid of the dogs given how much your friend seems to care about them. I can imagine that a dog's claws could cause a significant enough scratch to cause infection if the scratch went deeply enough to enter the PM pocket. But surely your friend would have been aware if this happened? Otherwise, that seems to me an unlikely explanation. In any case, your friend might discuss the possibility of having the replacement PM placed under the muscle, rather than just under the skin, so that it would be better protected from jumping, scratching dogs in the future. Loads and loads of people with PMs also have dogs, and I wouldn't personally go along with this recommendation. If he believes the dogs caused the problem, perhaps he'd be willing to purchase some sort of protective vest in order to be able to keep the dogs.

Okay, having said all that, I must tell you I am not a medically trained person -- just a PM recipient who has read postings almost daily on this site for 15 months, had complications of my own to deal with following implant, and and avid reader/digester of information and willing to be pushy to get GOOD advice from medical people.

Please tell your friend that people on this site remain hopeful for a happy, healthy outcome for him, and that he is able to keep his dogs.

Best wishes to both of you, CathrynB

Second opinion?

by ElectricFrank - 2008-04-30 01:04:49

Where does your friend live. You mention going to the US or Canada for the surgery. If possible it would be a good idea for him to get an appt with one of the top heart centers like Cleveland to see if there is another alternative. ( just noticed that swedeheart mentioned them too). There are too many cases where someone has been scheduled for a serious procedure and at the last minute the right doc figures out something simple.


Dogs & Infection

by janetinak - 2008-04-30 02:04:37

I have always read that any infection we get may go to the PM. I think it was in 65% of the cases that PM affected with any infection. As I have new knees too that is another risk for infection. Having said that I find it hard to believe that your friend would not have noticed any skin infection that might have been caused by a dog scratch. Infections can be caused from urinary tract, resp. system, dental & so on. So altho I have no idea what he should do (altho I think I would come to the US & do it all at the same time as mentioned above) I seriously doubt if I would give up my critters. I have had a PM since 2000 & all that time I have lived with 2-3 cats & a dog & I volunteer at the local shelter several times a wk so just be careful & think about keeping the dogs. Also he can ask the docs who do the needed procedure what they think.

Good luck, Janet

Thanks all

by Miker - 2008-04-30 02:04:56

Thanks all for the comments. I have forwarded them to my friend. It has been very helpful for him as well as an eye opener for me.

He was able to get an appointment with another Doctor for a second opinion today, no EP Docs where he is.

He has made some calls to the US to different clinics and is making progress on sorting this all out.

He was also able to find a sitter for his pets so now he can get on a plane at any time.

Thanks again I can’t express how helpful you all have been.

Thinking of you and your pets

by Blueaustralia - 2008-04-30 06:04:39

So sorry to hear of your infection and hope it gets sorted out. I have a cocker spaniel who will jump up and has often caught my pacemaker site as she slid down away from me. I have always had a shirt on. I just could not bear getting rid of my dog for any reason. Doctors don't seeem to like dogs as they blame them for all sorts of things. A reminder of this is the UK series "Doc Martin" that poor old dog he inherited gets the blame for anything going. Hope you get well soon and that your dogs get a reprieve. Sincere wishes


by gmnordy - 2008-04-30 06:04:44

Sad story that your doggies are getting the blame. I can hardly believe they scratched you deep enough at the pacer site for an infection. Freak accidents do happen though, but I wouldnt be getting rid of my dogs that is for sure!

Word to your friend

by TKS - 2008-05-01 05:05:17

I work in an animal shelter and have been bitten and scratched by cats, and their bites and scratches are far more infectious than a dog. Please tell your friend to hold off on getting rid of his babies until he has had a second opinion. I think his Dr. is giving him bad advice on telling him to get rid of the dogs. They are wonderful at helping to de-stress and are loving companions.

My doggie and I play quite rough and he has scratched me more times than I care to count. It's never been an issue and I've never gotten any type of infection from the scratches (but then again, I don't know what other health issues your friend may have besides heart related).

Hoping for the best for your friend!

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I am 100% pacemaker dependant and have been all my life. I try not to think about how a little metal box keeps me alive - it would drive me crazy. So I lead a very active life.