Canine high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, can be a serious health issue for dogs just like it is for humans. Dogs with untreated high blood pressure can develop complications such as heart failure, kidney disease, and stroke. The primary cause of hypertension is unknown, but certain breeds are more prone to the condition than others. Smaller breeds such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers, and Pugs are particularly at risk.
High blood pressure can be difficult to detect in dogs because they don’t have any physical symptoms like humans do. That’s why it’s important for pet owners to have their dog’s blood pressure checked regularly by a veterinarian. If high blood pressure is detected, there are several treatments available to help manage the condition.
Blood pressure medications can be prescribed to dogs with high blood pressure, but lifestyle changes are also recommended. These can include weight management, physical activity, and dietary modifications. If your dog is overweight or obese, a veterinarian might recommend switching to a low-sodium diet to reduce the risk of developing hypertension. Regular exercise can help keep your pet ’s weight in check and reduce the risk of high blood pressure.
Symptoms of Canine High Blood Pressure
Although dogs don’t usually have physical symptoms of hypertension, there are some signs you can look for. These include:
- Breathing difficulties
- Excessive painting
- Coughing or gagging
- Loss of appetite
- Unusual behavior such as aggression or irritability
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your pet to a veterinarian for an examination. Knowing the symptoms of high blood pressure can help you detect the condition in its early stages and get your pet the treatment they need.
Diagnosing Canine High Blood Pressure
It’s important to diagnose canine high blood pressure as early as possible, so regular veterinary checkups are vital. During a physical exam, your vet will take your dog’s pulse and measure their blood pressure using a device called a tonometer. If hypertension is detected, further tests could be recommended to identify the underlying cause.
Stages of Canine High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has been split into three stages: mild, moderate, and severe.
Mild hypertension is when the dog’s systolic blood pressure (the higher number) is between 160-179 mmHg.
Moderate hypertension occurs when the systolic blood pressure is between 180-199 mmHg.
Severe hypertension is when the systolic blood pressure is higher than 200 mmHg.
Depending on the stage, different treatments could be recommended for managing high blood pressure.
Treating Canine High Blood Pressure
Once a diagnosis of high blood pressure is made, your veterinarian might recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and medication. Lifestyle changes such as weight management and regular exercise can help lower the risk of developing hypertension, while medications such as ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers can be used to manage the condition. In some cases, additional tests could be necessary to determine the underlying cause of hypertension.
Preventing Canine High Blood Pressure
The best way to prevent high blood pressure is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This means ensuring your pet gets regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Feeding a low-sodium diet can help reduce the risk of developing hypertension. Regular veterinary checkups are also recommended to ensure your dog’s blood pressure is within normal range.