Symptoms of High Blood Pressure

The symptoms of high blood pressure can be recognized in pets and should never be ignored, as a pet with hypertension can go blind if left untreated. Watch out for restlessness, ocular symptoms, cardiovascular symptoms as well as neurological signs.

Restlessness and Hyperactivity

A cat or a dog with hypertension will be agitated and hyperactive. The pet may also drink more and eat more.

The sleeping patterns will be disrupted and the cat or dog may be more vocal than usual.

Cardiovascular Symptoms

The cardiovascular symptoms of a pet with high blood pressure include:

  • Heart murmur
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Coughing and respiratory problems, due to the fact that the lungs may get irregular amounts of oxygen
  • Lethargy
  • General state of weakness

If you try to feel the pet’s pulse, you may notice that it is more alert than usual. The pulse will vary according to the cat or dog’s breed and age, but you may find out the normal pulse range for your pet and compare with the present values.

Hypertension may be particularly damaging for the heart and may lead to severe heart problems that may not be reversible (i.e. the weakening of the heart muscle).

Neurological Symptoms

Pets affected by high blood pressure may often present neurological symptoms such as confusion, walking in circles or even seizures.

You may also watch out for:

  • Elimination in the house or outside the litter box
  • Lameness
  • Weakness, typically just on one side

These symptoms may not be specific for hypertension, as they may point also to other neurological problems.

Eye Problems

Often, the high blood pressure may result in hemorrhage and the pet can bleed from the eyes. Other eye problems that can affect pets with hypertension include a detached retina, which will affect the pet’s vision.

Often, if you look at the pet’s eyes, you will notice that the pupils are dilated.


Blindness can be a consequence of high blood pressure and typically occurs if the pet is has been affected by hypertension for a long time and hasn’t received veterinary care.

This can be detected by showing your pet different visual stimuli that are not accompanied by smell or noises. If your pet doesn’t react to these stimuli, his vision may be affected.

Blindness is typically due to the detached retina and may be reversible if detected early enough.

In some cases, the symptoms can be very subtle and the pet will not be suspected of high blood pressure. Regular veterinary checkups include measuring the blood pressure, so that the vet can detect a problem as early as possible. If an underlying condition causes the high blood pressure this should be treated. Otherwise, the pet will receive drugs that will control the blood pressure and keep it at a normal level.