While it may not be common, it is possible for our canine companions to develop hypertension (high blood pressure). Here, our Sacramento vets talk about the causes or high blood pressure in dogs, the symptoms to watch for and how it can be treated.
High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) In Dogs
High blood pressure is a condition that only affects a small percentage of dogs in the world. For a dog's blood pressure to be considered high, it must be consistently higher than normal dog blood pressure (above 150 mmHg).
A normal dog's blood pressure range is quite wide and goes higher than the healthy range for humans. A normal dog's blood pressure will range anywhere from 110/60 to 160/90.
What causes hypertension in dogs?
The first is high blood pressure caused by hereditary factors. This makes up only about 20% of cases of high blood pressure in dogs.
The second type is called secondary hypertension. This is high blood pressure caused by an underlying condition. Most cases of high blood pressure in dogs are secondary hypertension. This makes it important top know the common signs of hypertension so you know what to look for.
Risk factors for hypertension in dogs can include increased age, obesity, underlying diseases such as kidney disease or Cushing's disease, and certain medications. It is important for pet owners to be aware of the potential for high blood pressure in their dogs and to take their pets for regular check-ups with their veterinarian to monitor for any signs of hypertension or underlying health issues.
Is high blood pressure more common in certain breeds?
Certain dog breeds may be more prone to developing high blood pressure than others. One example is the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which is known to have a high incidence of chronic hypertension due to their predisposition to heart disease.
Other breeds that may be at increased risk for high blood pressure include Dachshunds, Miniature Schnauzers, Boxers, and Shih Tzus.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure in Dogs
Signs of hypertension in dogs can sometimes be missed. Noticing and treating high blood pressure in dogs is made even more difficult by the fact that they have no way to tell us if they are feeling sick. That is why it is important to know and to be able to recognize the symptoms of high blood pressure so that you can plan with your vet to combat it.
Some of the things to look out for are:
- Loss of sight
- Heart murmurs
- Enlarged kidneys
- Rapid breathing
If your dog is showing one or more of the symptoms above it's time to book an appointment with your veterinarian for a wellness exam. While these symptoms aren't always a result of high blood pressure they do indicate that your pup is likely suffering from an underlying health problem that should be addressed.
In cases of secondary hypertension, early detection could help lead to the diagnosis and treatment of a developing health concern before it becomes severe. In most cases, health issues are most effectively treated when caught early.
Checking For High Blood Pressure in Dogs
When trying to decide how to take a dog's blood pressure you may wonder if you can use the same arm cuff that people use. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to give an accurate reading.
Veterinarians use a specially designed inflatable cuff that is placed around the dog's leg or tail to take a reading. If your vet is concerned about your dog's blood pressure further testing may be required.
High blood pressure in dogs is typically diagnosed through a combination of physical examination, blood pressure measurements, and blood tests. During a physical examination, your dog's veterinarian may check for signs such as increased heart rate, abnormal heart sounds, or swollen blood vessels.
Blood pressure measurements can be taken using a non-invasive technique, such as an inflatable cuff placed around the dog's limb or tail. Blood tests can also be performed to evaluate for underlying causes of high blood pressure, such as kidney disease or hormonal imbalances.
If your dog is diagnosed with hypertension, the underlying cause should be identified and treated as soon as possible. Your dog may require ongoing monitoring and treatment in order to manage their blood pressure.
Treating High Blood Pressure in Dogs
The treatment options for your dog will depend on the underlying cause of their high blood pressure.
If your dog has hereditary high blood pressure — the rarer of the two, can be treated with a change in diet and more exercise throughout the day. If that doesn't lower your dog's blood pressure, your vet may prescribe medication.
Dogs with secondary hypertension will likely receive treatment for the cause of hypertension, as opposed to hypertension itself. However, your vet may prescribe medication for hypertension in conjunction with other treatments.
Often, the first signs of hypertension wind up being asymptomatic, so you must schedule regular vet visits if you notice any signs of high blood pressure in your dog.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.