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High blood pressure in dogs

Basset Hund in a bed advice

High blood pressure can lead to blindness in dogs.

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Because high blood pressure in dogs is normally due to another condition, a vet will have to investigate several routes to help your pet get better.

By Dr. Laura Harvey BVetMed GPCert (WVA&CPM) MRCVS

Updated on the 19/11/2020, 22:22

High blood pressure (hypertension) in dogs is usually secondary to an underlying condition, of which there are several. This means there are a variety of symptoms, with perhaps the more common being loss of vision, particularly if acute. Other symptoms include loss of balance or looking like they might have had a stroke, coughing, panting, nose bleeds, breathing difficulties and behavioural changes. Due to the differences in causes, further investigation will be required to determine the best treatment for you pet.

What are the causes of high blood pressure in dogs?

As in people, high pressure in dogs can be caused by a variety of different conditions, including kidney disease (including chronic renal failure and glomerular disease), diabetes mellitus, heart disease and hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s disease). The mechanism by which they can increase blood pressure varies, but the overall result and consequences can be similar.

What are the symptoms of high blood pressure in dogs?

Since the causes can vary, the symptoms seen can vary too. Sometimes the only symptom is gradual or sudden onset blindness. This is because the blood vessels on the retina at the back of the eye are tiny, so are easily damaged if the blood pressure is too high, particularly for prolonged periods. High blood pressure is commonly associated with kidney disease, so your dog may be drinking and urinating more than normal. Other symptoms include balance problems, breathing difficulties, panting, coughing, lethargy and looking as though they have had a stroke.

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How do you diagnose high blood pressure in dogs?

Performed by a vet, it involves measuring your pet’s blood pressure. The vet will likely do further tests, depending on the symptoms exhibited by your pet, to help identify the underlying cause.

Do dogs have high blood pressure with kidney disease?

High blood pressure can be caused by kidney disease, as well as itself causing kidney damage. The kidney is responsible for regulating sodium (a salt) and water, as well as playing a part in the direct regulation of blood pressure. Therefore, when there is a problem in the kidney, it also affects the regulation of blood pressure, causing hypertension. Secondly, because the kidney is a delicate structure, it is vulnerable to end organ damage. This is when the blood pressure is too high and damages the finer structures within the kidney. It is therefore important to investigate underlying causes for high blood pressure in your dog, with treatment accordingly.

Are there natural remedies for canine high blood pressure?

Treatment can only be advised by a vet, following a thorough examination with diagnostic tests as appropriate. There are no natural remedies available.

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How is a dog's blood pressure taken?

A dog’s blood pressure can be taken in three ways. The most accurate is arterial blood pressure. Yet this is invasive and so only done under general anaesthesia.

The two most common ways are non-invasive and can be done in conscious dogs. They both involve using a cuff, like when we have our blood pressure measured. The cuff can be placed around a leg or, in some cases, the tail. The first way is called the doppler method. This is similar to how a doctor takes our blood pressure, except rather than using a stethoscope to hear the pulse, a Doppler ultrasound probe is used. The second way is using a machine attached to the cuff to record the blood pressure.

Do dogs in UK have high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is indeed seen in dogs in the UK. The incidence of high blood pressure itself is unknown, as it is usually secondary to an underlying condition in dogs, rather than being the primary problem, as it can be in people.

Should dogs have their blood pressure over 200?

This is very high, so your dog would be diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure). Treatment would vary depending on the underlying cause. A vet will be able to advise you.

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Can dogs have low blood pressure?

Low blood pressure is rarely seen in dogs. When present, it can cause the dog to appear vacant, weak and they may experience fainting episodes. If your dog experiences any of these symptoms, please contact a vet immediately.

Can a human blood pressure monitor be used on a dog blood pressure cuff?

No, because human and dog blood pressure monitors are calibrated differently, so you probably won’t get an accurate reading.

How can I lower my dog’s blood pressure naturally?

If your dog has been diagnosed with high blood pressure by a vet, it is not something you can treat at home. Having said that, avoiding stressful situations might help to avoid it raising further.

How do you treat a dog with high blood pressure?

It depends if an underlying cause can be identified. If so, treating this alone may be sufficient to reduce the blood pressure, but it is not uncommon that your dog will also require medication to help lower their blood pressure. This works by dilating the peripheral circulation, so there is a larger volume to hold the blood, reducing the pressure. Treatment can only be prescribed by a vet, following an examination of your pet and diagnostic tests, as required.

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How can I check my dog’s blood pressure at home?

Unfortunately, you won't be able to check your dog’s blood pressure at home. It can only be done with the testing equipment at the vets.

When should I see a vet?

You should see a vet if you are at all worried about your dog, particularly if they are lethargic, panting, off their food, unsettled, restless, having breathing difficulties or fainting episodes. If you have any concerns about your pet at all, do get hold of a vet.