High Blood Pressure in Dogs

High blood pressure in dogs is also known as hypertension. It can be caused by an underlying condition and may lead to additional health problems. Hypertension can be managed with medication.

Dog High Blood Pressure

Dog high blood pressure is scientifically known as arterial hypertension, and it indicates an increase of the diastolic arterial blood pressure. A dog has high blood pressure if the results of the arterial blood pressure tests are higher than 170 to 180 mm Hg, while the diastolic pressure should be higher than 110 mm Hg to be considered high.

Causes of High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure in canines can be caused by numerous factors including:

  • Kidney problems or kidney damage
  • Obesity
  • Clogged arteries, due to a diet that is high in fats
  • Cushing's disease
  • Endocrine system diseases
  • Adrenal diseases
  • Tumors on the adrenal gland
  • A diet high in sodium
  • Certain drugs
  • Nervous system problems
  • Heart conditions
  • Injuries in the body

In some cases, the real causes of high blood pressure are not known.

Symptoms of Hypertension

A high blood pressure will make the dog more agitated and active. To determine if the dog has hypertension you should look for the following symptoms:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Changes in the behavior
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Vision problems
  • Depression
  • Hiding behavior

The dog may also display a number of symptoms that are specific for the underlying condition that causes the high blood pressure. 

Diagnosing Hypertension

Hypertension can be easily diagnosed by measuring the dog's blood pressure; however, the vet will need to perform additional tests to find the cause leading to hypertension. The vet will perform:

  • An examination of the dog
  • A complete blood count
  • Urinalysis to establish if the kidneys are functioning properly
  • X-rays and ultrasounds, especially in the abdominal area
  • Biopsy, if the dog has a tumor affecting the adrenal gland

Managing Canine High Blood Pressure

The high blood pressure can be normalized if the vet identifies the underlying condition and applies treatment. The treatment may vary from a change in diet for kidney problems to surgery, if tumors are present. The vet may choose to keep the dog in the hospital for supervision.

If the dog has gone through a hypertensive crisis, the vet will administer drugs that lower the blood pressure. These drugs may include diuretics or sodium nitroprusside, which are vasodilators and will instantly reduce the blood pressure of the pet.

If the hypertension is idiopathic, the vet may recommend a treatment with beta blockers, enalapril, benazepril or amlodipine. The dog's blood pressure should be checked on a regular basis even after finishing the treatment, so as to make sure the dog is healthy.

If left untreated, hypertension can lead to blindness, heart disease and a reduced life expectancy.