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What is High Blood Pressure in Dogs?

High blood pressure is an extremely important concern in human medicine. But what about our pets? Do they suffer from high blood pressure as well? For most Singapore pet owners, especially those who have senior dogs, you rarely see your veterinarian taking the blood pressure for your pets.

Our pets don’t live the same high-stress lifestyle that most humans do — and they’re not usually indulging in high-salt or high-fat diets — so why would they develop high blood pressure?

The truth is that hypertension, or high blood pressure, is actually much more common than you’d think in pets. In people, the most common cause of hypertension is called primary or essential, meaning that there is no underlying disease causing it. Pets, on the other hand, most commonly develop secondary hypertension, which means that it is associated with an underlying medical condition.

Hypertension occurs when the dog’s arterial blood pressure is continually higher than normal. When it is caused by another disease, it is called secondary hypertension; primary hypertension, meanwhile, refers to when it actually is the disease. Hypertension may affect many of the dog’s body systems, including heart, kidneys, eyes, and the nervous system. Systemic hypertension can affect both dogs and cats.

REFERENCES

Ronald S. Hines, DVM, PhD
Professor of Pediatrics, Pharmacology and Toxicology from the Medical Collegeof Wisconsin

Marissa Miller, DVM, MPH
Chief, Advanced Technologies and Surgery Branch, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, NIH

Mark D. Kittleson, DVM, PhD, DACVIM
Diplomate American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, CCRT, CEO

Aristide Y. Apostolides, DVM, Phd
Associate Professor 01Epidemiology, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometry,Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Department of Defense, Bethesda, Maryland.

Ron Carsten, DVM, PhD, CVA, CCRT
BS in microbiology, an MS in anatomy and neurobiology and a PhD in cell and molecular biology.

What causes Hypertension in Dogs and are there certain breeds at risk?

The cause of primary hypertension in dogs is not known. However, there have been instances where breeding dogs with hypertension have produced offspring with hypertension, so it seems likely that there is a genetic component.

So how prevalent is this form of hypertension? Studies have varied, but one study found that between 0.5 percent and 10 percent of dogs suffer from high blood pressure. Ages of dogs with hypertension ranged 2 to 14 years old.

Secondary hypertension, which accounts for 80 percent of all hypertension cases, may be due to a variety of factors, including renal disease, hormonal fluctuation, and hyperthyroidism.

Diabetes may also be a cause for hypertension, although it is uncommon in dogs. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from hypertension, bring it in so that your veterinarian may provide a proper diagnosis.

Certain breeds appear to be more susceptible to hypertension than others. Dachschunds, poodles, and certain terrier breeds have an increased risk of Cushing’s disease. Australian terriers, Schnauzers, Bichons Frises and Spitz dogs have an increased risk of diabetes mellitus. And of course, overweight dogs (regardless of breed) are prone to hypertension as well.

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high blood pressure hypertension

Signs and Symptoms of Hypertension in Dogs

The following are just some of the more common symptoms displayed by dogs with high blood pressure:

 

  • Seizures
  • Circling or/and Disorientation
  • Blindness, Dilated pupils or Retinal detachment, Hemorrhage of the eye
  • Blood in the urine or Protein in the urine
  • Bleeding from the nose
  • Swollen or shrunken kidneys
  • Heart murmurs
  • Weakness, either on one side of the body or in the legs
  • Involuntary oscillation (rolling) of the eyeballs
  • Palpable thyroid gland (when hyperthyroid)

Dogs and cats are considered hypertensive and at risk for organ damage when they have systolic blood pressures that are greater than 160 or diastolic blood pressures over 100.One organ that’s commonly affected by hypertension is the eye. Damage to the back of the eye, called the retina, may result in sudden or gradual blindness in pets. An owner may notice that his pet has dilated pupils, which do not constrict with light, or the pet bumps into objects because of impaired vision or blindness.

Hypertension – The importance of a proper diagnosis process

Blood pressure is often measured in pets in the same manner as in humans. An inflatable cuff will be placed on the dog’s paw or tail, and standard blood pressure measuring instruments will check the pressure. It is important to keep the dog still long enough to get an accurate reading.

The standards for dog blood pressure are:

  • 150/95 – at this reading or below, there is minimal risk and treatment is not recommended
  • 150/99 to 159/95 — intervention is rotuinely not recommended at these readings
  • 160/119 to 179/100 — treatment should be sought to limit the risk of organ damage
  • 180/120 — immediate treatment should be sought to limit the degree of other more severe complications

Five to seven measurements are generally taken. The first measurement will be discarded, and the dog’s excitement level during the procedure will be taken in account. If the results are in dispute, the procedure will need to be repeated.

Contact your Veterinarian today if your pet has the above signs and symptoms.

IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO DO A ROUTINE BLOOD PRESSURE FOR DOGS OLDER THAN 8 YEARS OLD ON A REGULAR BASIS.

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WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO PROMPTLY DIAGNOSE HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE IN YOUR PET

CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN TODAY

When a pet has hypertension, it means that their blood vessels have become too narrow to handle the elevated pressure flow of blood. A helpful analogy is that of a garden hose hooked up to a fire hydrant — the high pressure from the hydrant could cause the hose to contract and potentially pop. The same thing can happen to blood vessels.

Typically, the affected vessels in pets are small, so the actual bleeding, as well as the resulting lack of blood flow to the area, is not noticeable until more significant damage occurs over time. The same can be said of hypertension in humans — there are often no signs of this “silent killer” until major damage is done. 

WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF YOU DELAY YOUR PET’S REGULAR ROUTINE BLOOD PRESSURE CHECK

BE A WELL INFORMED PET OWNER

Dogs and cats are considered hypertensive and at risk for organ damage when they have systolic blood pressures that are greater than 160 or diastolic blood pressures over 100.

One organ that’s commonly affected by hypertension is the eye. Damage to the back of the eye, called the retina, may result in sudden or gradual blindness in pets. The kidney, heart and brain are also targets of hypertensive damage — worsening kidney problems, heart failure and strokelike signs can result.

There are a number of diseases and health conditions associated with hypertension in pets. Here are some of the key players, Chronic kidney disease, Cushing’s disease, Diabetes mellitus, Obesity, Heart disease and Hyperthyroidism.

Do speak to your veterinarian about doing a blood test for hyperthyroidism as well.

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