High Blood Pressure in Dogs

Image of a veterinarian checking a dog's blood pressure.

Most dog owners would admit a lack of knowledge or perhaps even a lack of concern about canine hypertension, or high blood pressure in dogs. After all, since they don't have the same vices as we do, they shouldn't be at risk, right? Well, the answer may be a little more complex than just life style choices.

One study showed that 93% of dogs with chronic kidney disease also suffer from high blood pressure. Other studies cite that more than 60% of geriatric dogs (over 8 years old) also suffer from this often silent disease. One reason that so little is known about how many dogs are actually affected is the fact that blood pressure measurements are not routine during your pet's office visit. Considered to be one of five vital signs for humans, blood pressure in our pets has not received the same attention and thus, inconsistent measuring practices and varying guidelines have made it difficult to determine what values are currently accepted as borderline or mild hypertension in pets.

Blood pressure in humans is measured by gently occluding, or blocking, an artery in an arm or leg. A stethoscope is then used to listen for the return of the pulse as the pressure is slowly released. This point is known as the systolic blood pressure, or the higher of the two numbers you will hear or read. Next, the pressure continues to be released and when no pulse sounds are heard, that pressure is called the diastolic pressure. Blood pressure is then read as systolic over diastolic, or, for example, 140 over 80. For dogs, the stethoscope is often not sensitive enough to hear the pulse sounds and it is virtually impossible to detect the diastolic signal. Most veterinarians will simply record a pet's blood pressure as the systolic measurement, or, for example, 180. Many veterinarians who utilize blood pressure measurements use an ultrasonic probe to "hear" when the pulse returns to the artery. The probe will then convert that signal into an audible sound for the doctor. Experts caution both veterinarians and owners to never become alarmed at a single high reading. The important thing to remember is that the results must be repeatable.

Dogs often suffer from secondary hypertension, or high blood pressure due to some underlying disease process. The most common canine diseases that can lead to high blood pressure are chronic kidney disease, Cushing's disease (an overproduction of cortisone by the body), and adrenal gland tumors. With high blood pressure, blood vessels can become thickened and stretched and may eventually rip and tear, causing bleeding. This may not be immediately noticeable, but as small vessels in the eye and in the kidneys begin to be destroyed, patients will begin to show clinical signs. Symptoms of high blood pressure are often unnoticed by the owner. A sudden or gradual onset of blindness can be the only outward sign that your pet may have high blood pressure. High blood pressure can worsen existing kidney disease, can cause bleeding in the brain, and will eventually affect every organ in the body.

Fortunately for our pets, since high blood pressure often results from another disease process, controlling the first disease will often reverse or help to control the high blood pressure. As with humans, certain drugs are available to help relax and dilate blood vessels, lessening the pressure from the blood flow. In addition, routine blood screening and routine blood pressure measurements will become vitally important to the health of your pet.

Hypertension in Dogs

  • Symptoms of high blood pressure are often silent, but a common sign in dogs is a gradual, or sudden, onset of blindness due to blood vessel tears within the retina.
  • Treating the high blood pressure requires that the underlying disease be identified and treated.
  • After treatment, animals often resolve their high blood pressure issues.
  • In case the high blood pressure cannot be resolved, medications, such as ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and vessel dilators can be used with varying degrees of success. The success depends on the individual and the species of animal involved.
  • Measurement of dog's blood pressure is an inexact science. Most veterinarians will utilize a Doppler Blood Pressure Monitor. This device uses an ultrasonic probe to translate the barely audible systolic signal into an audible tone for the doctor to hear.
  • Due to a lack of adequate numbers of patients studied, the definition of mild hypertension or borderline hypertension has never been fully described.
  • Additionally, the stress factor of visiting the veterinarian can cause an animal's blood pressure to rise to a point considered to be hypertensive.

Contact Us Today!

Contact us using the form or call us at 804-741-3200.

Monday:

7:30am

6:00pm

Tuesday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Wednesday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Thursday:

7:30am

7:00pm

Friday:

7:30am

6:00pm

Saturday:

7:30am

2:00pm

Sunday:

Closed

Closed

Testimonials

Read What Our Clients Say

  • "Dr. Evans was so patient and kind with our kitty "Cookie". Very caring and so helpful and answered many questions for me concerning her health. The office staff are kind, caring, and professional. The office is immaculate. I have never been to a vet where my pets and myself were treated so well. Love it and so glad to have found them. Best vet appointment ever!"
    Dorothy M.
  • "We have used the Q for over 15 years for our cats and our dogs. Dr. Mortimer is a genius at diagnosing and treating a wide array of issues, and we have relied on his skills to help our animals live to amazing ages. The staff is incredibly caring. They do everything possible to help when we call or come in with a sick animal. They truly care for our pets, and many of the staff will come out from the back to pet our dogs
    when they come in. They are so patient with shy animals like our ferally cat Stasha who needed laser treatments, and our Bagle Topsy who is afraid of her own shadow.Yes, they are not the cheapest vet in town, but they work with us on making a treatment plan we can afford, and we feel that the value and the care are well worth it. Thank you to everyone at the Q for their dedication and loving care."
    Sally M. / December 21, 2017
  • "Met with Dr. Hiser today for the first time. Everyone at the
    clinic--from the desk staff to the vet techs to the veterinarian were warm and welcoming. My dog Iris--who is often nervous around new people--was comfortable there and (I think) made a few new friends. Looking forward to a continued relationship with the clinic as my sweet girl grows up. Thanks, thanks thanks."
    Stephanie C. / June 27, 2018
  • "My three chihuahuas have been Dr. Mortimer's patients for over nine years. The expertise, love, and care demonstrated for each pet is extraordinary. The doctors and staff go the extra mile to help their patients and the parents. They are truly an amazing group that love and care for each pet. If there was a review rated outstanding, that would have been my choice!"
    Donna C. / June 10, 2018
  • "I would highly recommended QVH. All of the staff are so kind and compassionate. They are so willing to help and never mind answering any questions you may have, even if it's 100 questions they are so patient. They genuinely care and treat your pets as if they were their own. And I cannot say enough about Dr. Hiser. She is amazing. Even on her days off she would still call and check in on my dog. I am so appreciative of this place and the staff. It's a great feeling to be completely comfortable with putting your pets care in someone's else hands and trusting them to provide the best service."
    Taylor H. / August 25, 2018
  • "I have been seeing Dr. Evans for at least 20 years. Her manner, knowledge, staff and facility are exceptional. I am a health care provider myself and hold the care of my pets to the highest standards....and I have never had a second thought about the care or recommendations of Dr. Evans. I moved out of town 6 years ago....and drive 3 hours each way to see her."
    Kimberley W. / April 2, 2018
  • "Wouldn't trust my four-legged Kids to anyone else - they have guided us with all our dogs through the years. The entire staff is kind and patient with the animals (and their parents)."
    Karen K. / November 7, 2017

Featured Articles

Read about interesting topics

Newsletter Signup

Sign up for more articles