Epileptic dogs are being fitted with implants normally used in humans in an attempt to treat the condition.

Veterinary neurologist Tom Harcourt-Brown said implanting pacemakers, known as Vagus Nerve Stimulators(VNS), was potentially life saving”.

Lyn Weber and Eva

Lyn Weber said four-year-old Eva was now a “bionic dog” 

Bristol-based Langford Vets said the procedure was “rarely curative” but could reduce the need for medication.

VNS are pacemaker type devices, which are commonly implanted in children with medically unresponsive seizures.

Mike Carter Paediatric neurosurgeon Mike Carter implants pacemakers in about 30 epileptic children per year

Paediatric neurosurgeon at Bristol Children’s Hospital Mike Carter said: “As we know, many human treatments start off as treatments that are either trialled or in some way propagated in the animal population.

“And it may well be that there are in fact benefits to humans from observing the way in which treatments work in animals as well. And that’s very much what we’re hoping for here.”

Lyn Weber’s dog Eva has just had a VNS implant. The Jack Russell has been on medication since her first seizure two years ago.

Ms Weber said: “Typically for Eva, she came home from the surgery after two days, a bright and happy dog, albeit tired.

“Apart from a cough, which we are managing, and which is a possible side effect, she is the same affectionate and playful dog we know and adore.”

Bristol University’s Langford Vet school said epilepsy was “a very common disorder in dogs and can be very difficult and very expensive to treat medically”.

It said this was the first time the procedure had been used in the UK. The operation costs about £5,000 and is not normally available on pet insurance.

Source: BBC – Bristol