What is Hypertension?
There are certain breeds that are more susceptible to hypertension. Those breeds include the Dachshund, Poodle, Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Spitz, Australian Terrier and Sight Hounds.
Dogs with a systolic blood pressure that exceeds 150 mmHg may be diagnosed with hypertension or high blood pressure. Hypertension can cause negative effects and require medications or other treatments to manage the high blood pressure.
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Symptoms of Hypertension in Dogs
There are many symptoms of hypertension in dogs. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian and have a thorough physical done on your dog.
- Bleeding inside the eyeball
- Dilated pupils
- Retinal detachment
- Acute onset blindness
- Eye movements that are abnormal
- Enlarged kidneys
- Abnormally small kidneys
- Protein in the urine
- Blood in the urine
- Abnormal circling
- Partial paralysis
- Heart murmurs
- Congestive heart failure
- Enlarged thyroid gland
- Changes in behavior
- Nose bleeds
- Stroke-like symptoms
Causes of Hypertension in Dogs
It is uncommon for a dog to be diagnosed as having primary hypertension, meaning there is no other medical condition causing the high blood pressure. There is almost always an underlying cause for the hypertension. This is called secondary hypertension. Underlying causes of secondary hypertension may result from endocrine disorders, such as Cushing’s disease, hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus.
Your veterinarian will determine the cause of your dog’s hypertension. Once the cause has been found, treatment plans can be set to bring the blood pressure back down into a normal range.
Diagnosis of Hypertension in Dogs
To diagnose hypertension in your dog, blood pressure will have to be measured during each visit to your veterinarian. Veterinarians take a dog’s blood pressure very similar to humans, although instead of a stethoscope to listen to the pulse a Doppler probe is used. If your veterinarian is concerned that your dog’s blood pressure is dangerously high, your dog may have to remain there for immediate treatment.
A urinalysis and blood work will be completed to determine the primary cause of your dog’s hypertension. Additional testing may be required to properly diagnose any underlying cause of your dog’s hypertension.
Treatment of Hypertension in Dogs
Your veterinarian will provide supportive care while searching for the cause of your dog’s hypertension. Once the underlying cause has been found, your veterinarian will discuss a full treatment plan with you. If the condition is serious, a veterinary specialist may be recommended for additional treatment.
Lowering your dog’s blood pressure is essential to avoid long-term effects. This can be done using medications to lower the blood pressure. While trying to stabilize blood pressure, your veterinarian will try to pinpoint the underlying cause of the hypertension.
If your dog has extremely elevated blood pressure, your veterinarian will recommend hospitalization to limit the amount of damage done to any of your dog’s organs. This can cause extra stress to your dog. However, veterinarians and trained medical staff will closely monitor your dog and administer medication while searching for the underlying cause of the hypertension.
Diagnosing the Underlying Cause
Once the underlying cause has been determined, treatment of that disease will be put in place by your veterinarian. Anti-hypertensive medications will still be required to keep blood pressure under control during other treatments.
In many cases, dietary changes and exercise will be helpful to your dog in managing their hypertension. Regular monitoring of your dog’s blood pressure will need to be done by your veterinarian.
Recovery of Hypertension in Dogs
The prognosis for hypertension in dogs will depend on the underlying cause that is found. Your veterinarian will provide continuing support throughout the specified treatments. Treatments may be able to improve your dog’s quality of life, extend their life expectancy or make a full recovery possible.
Talk with your veterinarian regarding the long-term prognosis for your dog and whether or not the treatments prescribed will allow your dog to improve health wise and live a good life. Give any medications as prescribed and do not stop medications without consulting your veterinarian.
Hypertension Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
How frequent are nose bleeds in a dog with hypertension? Cowboy is a rescue and is heartworm positive. He has received tx for that. His cough cleared up but then he started sneezing, like something was up his nose. The sneezing lessened and then he started having nose bleeds that occur several times a day. The vet who saw him diagnosed him with cardiomyopathy and hypertension. Started on meds yesterday. Nose bleeds still quite frequent.
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