Dog Blood Pressure

Summary:

"It can be difficult to get an accurate reading of dog blood pressure and to determine if the levels measured are abnormal. Healthy dog pressure is roughly equivalent to levels in humans."

Overview

Normal levels of blood pressure in dogs is defined as a reading of that is roughly equivalent to humans or around 108. Pressure levels higher than 160-180 mmHG for systolic blood pressure or diastolic pressure greater than 100 mmHg could be cause for concern. Unfortunately there are no standardized levels across breeds that can be used to gauge what is normal blood pressure.

Also, your veterinarian will take into account something called "white coat syndrome" where the stress of being at the veterinarian can cause an increase in pressure.

Blood pressure in dogs is taken using a cuff around the leg or with a device that is similar to a stethoscope using "doppler" technology. The area around where the device is pressed to the skin may have to be shaved. It is not easy to get an accurate reading.

If your veterinarian sees that your dog has systolic pressure that is greater than 180 mmHg then they will probably conclude that your dog has hypertension, or high blood pressure. The next step is to understand the cause. Dogs suffering from high blood pressure can suffer damage to the kidneys, liver and heart.

Unlike humans, taking a dog's blood pressure may not be a standard part of your dog's annual exam. If it isn't ask your veterinarian if he or she is able to take an accurate reading.

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Types of High Blood Pressure in Dogs

High blood pressure is called hypertension. There are two types of hypertension:

Essential: Primary form that is rare in dogs and is the problem itself. It indicates there is a problem within the body and the cause is usually unknown.

Secondary: Caused by an underlying disease. In dogs the most common form is caused by kidney failure (also called renal disease). Other less common causes of hypertension are Cushing's Disease (also called Hyperadrenocorticism) which indicates a problem with the adrenal glands, diabetes mellitus, and a tumor in the adrenal glands (pheochromocytoma).

Symptoms of Canine Hypertension

Patients with hypertension may demonstrate no clinical signs, especially in the early stages. When symptoms are present they will often be related to the primary disease. Commonly affected areas and examples of symptoms are: 

  • Heart - Heart murmurs or congestive heart failure
  • Kidneys - Protein in the urine, renal failure
  • Central Nervous System - Seizures, changes in gait
  • Eyes - Retinal lesions, including retinal hemorrhage, retinal detachments, arterial tortuosity, focal or diffuse retinal edema. Retinal problems are a common symptom found in hypertensive dogs.

Diagnosis of Hypertension

As indicated above, your veterinarian will begin an examination with measuring your dog's blood pressure in a way similar to how blood pressure is taken in humans. The hair around the dog blood pressure measuring "doppler" will be shaved.

Treatment of High Blood Pressure

Several medications can be prescribed that will help address dog blood pressure due to hypertension including enalapril, atenolol, fuosemide and amlodipine.

Natural or herbal supplements are also available that have properties which support heart health and blood pressure. Ingredients such as hawthorne (artery health, pumping strength, Kalium phosphate (healthy blood pressure within the normal range) and Calcium fluoride (for strong veins and arteries). PetAlive Heart & Circulation Tonic is made for this purpose and is worth researching and discussing with your veterinarian so that he or she can monitor progress.

Sources

American Kennel Club