Did you know that dogs, like people, can suffer from high blood pressure? In fact, some breeds have a genetically increased risk of developing hypertension. Here, our Los Angeles vets discuss high blood pressure and the signs/symptoms you should recognize.

High Blood Pressure In Dogs

Only a small percentage of dogs experience high blood pressure, which is not very common. In order for a dog's blood pressure to be deemed high, it must consistently be higher than the standard for dogs (above 150mmHg).

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.

Two Main Causes of High Blood Pressure 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.

Secondary hypertension is the name given to the second kind. The underlying condition that is causing this high blood pressure. Secondary hypertension is the most common type in canines. Understanding the symptoms and signs of canine hypertension is crucial for this reason.

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.

Dog Breeds More Prone to High Blood Pressure

Some dog breeds may be more prone to high blood pressure than others. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, for example, has a high incidence of chronic hypertension due to its 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

Pet parents frequently overlook signs of high blood pressure in dogs. Noticing and treating high blood pressure in dogs is made more difficult by the fact that they have no way of telling us if they are sick. That is why it is critical to understand and recognize the symptoms of high blood pressure so that you can work with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan.

Some of the things to look out for are:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of sight
  • Disorientation
  • Nosebleeds
  • Seizures
  • 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. 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.

How to Take a Dog's Blood Pressure

While it may seem like taking your dog's blood pressure is as simple as using a human blood pressure cuff, this is unlikely to give you an accurate reading and is not recommended.

To take a reading, veterinarians wrap an inflatable cuff around the dog's leg or tail. If your veterinarian is worried about your dog's blood pressure, additional testing may be necessary.

Diagnosis of High Blood Pressure in Dogs

Physical examination, blood pressure readings, and blood tests are frequently used to diagnose high blood pressure in dogs. Your dog's veterinarian may look for symptoms like an elevated heart rate, unusual heart sounds, or swollen blood vessels during a physical examination.

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.

Treatment For High Blood Pressure

Treatment for your dog's high blood pressure will depend on the type of high blood pressure your dog suffers from.

A change in diet and more daily exercise can be used to treat dogs with hereditary high blood pressure, the rarer of the two conditions. Your veterinarian might recommend medication if that doesn't bring down your dog's blood pressure.

Dogs with secondary hypertension will likely receive treatment for the cause of hypertension, as opposed to hypertension itself. Though, 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.

Is your dog showing signs of hypertension? Contact Washington Dog and Cat Hospital right away to book an appointment with one of our experienced Los Angeles vets!