Understanding Blood Pressure and Hypertension in Dogs

Home > Dog Wellness > Understanding Blood Pressure and Hypertension in Dogs

You might not think of your dog as having a high-stress life like you have. Between work and family responsibilities and the stresses of everyday life, humans tend to develop high blood pressure, or hypertension. If you have a dog, it is important to understand how high blood pressure affects his body as well as why your dog might have high blood pressure.

Hypertension in dogs is typically a sign of an underlying medical issue. There are signs, symptoms, and some conditions your dog may have if he has hypertension. Your veterinarian can talk to you about potential medications for treating high blood pressure in your dog. However, you will also want to work with your vet on treating the underlying condition or disease that is causing hypertension. There are some conditions where hypertension is a common side effect.

Diabetes

Diabetes occurs when insulin is not processed in your dog's body correctly, or your dog does not produce enough insulin to process the sugars in his body. Diabetes can be treated with medications as well as with insulin. Owners can also help manage the disease with a well-balanced diet and proper exercise. With healthy eating, which consists of lean proteins, high-quality, healthy fats, and a balance of carbohydrates, your dog’s body might be able to control blood sugar levels, and you find his high blood pressure heading down toward a normal range. Diabetes is a serious condition in which hypertension can be a dangerous side effect.

Kidney Disease

Your dog's kidneys are vital to his overall health. As organs which are responsible for removing toxins and waste, when the kidneys are dysfunctional or failing, your dog is at risk of poor health overall with a potential for worsening condition. High blood pressure can happen as a result of kidney disease and dysfunction. When the dog's kidneys begin to fail, your dog's heart will need work harder to move blood supply to the kidneys. This could increase blood pressure. Be sure to talk to your veterinarian about potential diet changes, supplements, and herbal remedies as well as adding more water to your dog's diet to improve kidney functions.

Cushing’s Disease

Dogs with Cushing's disease typically produce too much cortisol, which can increase their blood pressure. Cortisol is a fight or flight hormone, so if your dog is getting those triggers from his brain, his blood pressure may be increasing. Cushing's disease often occurs as a result of a tumor in the pituitary gland. Some dogs who have taken cortisone steroids over extended periods of time may become susceptible to Cushing's disease. If a tumor causes your dog's Cushing's disease, your veterinarian may recommend removing it. A biopsy could determine whether or not the tumor is benign or malignant.

Getting to the Source of Hypertension

Several conditions can cause high blood pressure in your dog. Hypertension is a serious condition, but for dogs, it is often a symptom of an underlying condition. Your veterinarian may want to perform a series of tests to see which particular underlying condition your dog has. In the meantime, your veterinarian may recommend treating your dog's high blood pressure with drugs to control keep it under control. If caught early, high blood pressure in your dog may be treatable through a change in diet and exercise. However, high blood pressure is not typically a condition of itself in dogs. If your dog has high blood pressure, have your veterinarian follow up with necessary testing for a proper diagnosis of the condition that may be causing high blood pressure in your dog.