What You Need to Know About High Blood Pressure 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
  • Hyperthyroidism (cats)

    How Is Hypertension Diagnosed in Pets?

    Pets with any of the previously mentioned conditions, or those showing signs of vision or neurologic problems, should receive regular blood pressure screenings.

Ideally, older pets should be screened for hypertension whenever they have a physical exam in order to detect problems early.

Blood pressure in pets is measured using an inflatable cuff that fits snuggly around the leg and a special device that detects blood flow through the arteries. Since pets are significantly smaller than people, stethoscopes are not sensitive enough to properly record blood pressure measurements.

Multiple blood pressure measurements should be taken to allow a pet to adapt to the procedure. Your vet may even recommend a repeat visit in order to confirm the presence of hypertension before prescribing treatment.

What Will My Vet Do to Address the Problem?

There are several medications that are effective for treating hypertension in pets that are designed to dilate blood vessels to help them accommodate the high-pressure blood flow going through them.

The most appropriate medication depends on the severity of the high blood pressure and the underlying disease that's present in a pet. Your veterinarian will guide you on the best medication, as well as the best management of your pet’s existing medical condition.

Dr. Donna Spector is a board-certified internal medicine specialist who practices in the northern Chicago area. She also owns a consulting business and provides daily clinical case consultations and continuing education to more than 1,800 primary care veterinarians. See more articles from Dr. Spector here.


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