"Hypertension or high blood pressure in dogs
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"Hypertension or high blood pressure in dogs

Dogs
Health & Safety

Hypertension is more commonly known as high blood pressure-a condition that most people are familiar with and that a significant number of the population suffer from to some extent. However, not everyone knows that dogs can develop hypertension too, and that it can have a range of far-reaching effects on dogs with the condition that can cause other problems in various parts of the body as well.

Canine hypertension occurs when the pressure in the arteries-the blood vessels that make up the pathways that pump blood from the heart around the body-maintain a higher than normal level of pressure for the activity that the dog is partaking in. Hypertension can occur due to a hereditary predisposition to high blood pressure in the breed line, or as a secondary complication of another underlying health condition, or even as a side effect of certain medications.

In this article, we will look at hypertension in dogs in more detail, including how it affects dogs, how to spot the symptoms, and how the condition can be managed. Read on to learn more.

More about hypertension

Hypertension increases the blood pressure in the dog’s arteries, which are the blood vessels that pump freshly oxygenated blood away from the heart. Blood pressure in the arteries helps to circulate the blood and keep everything moving smoothly-but if the blood pressure is too low or too high, this can cause a range of different problems that can have a sometimes significant impact on the dog’s general health and wellness.

Hypertension can develop over time as a secondary complication of another condition, or it can occur on its own in dogs that have a hereditary predisposition to the condition. It can also cause or worsen other conditions that the dog might present with too, and so diagnosis and proper management of high blood pressure in dogs is just as important as it is for people.

What sort of dogs are at risk of hypertension?

A dog that has close relatives (parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles, cousins or siblings) with hypertension is more likely to have the condition themselves, as some forms of hypertension are hereditary in nature. This is more common in certain breeds and types of dogs than others, with the Poodle, Dachshund and Bichon frise being among them.

However, hypertension in dogs is most commonly caused by an underlying condition rather than a hereditary predisposition, and conditions such as diabetes, Cushing’s disease and kidney disease all increase the risk factors for high blood pressure.

In rarer cases, treatment (particularly long term) with certain types of medications can also lead to high blood pressure, although if the medication is only used short-term, the condition sometimes corrects itself after the medication is ceased.

The symptoms of hypertension in dogs

Spotting the symptoms of hypertension in dogs can be challenging because it is an internal disorder, but if you know that your dog has elevated risk factors for the condition, this is something you should be aware of and that your vet should look out for too.

There are a huge range of different symptoms that can indicate high blood pressure in the dog, and not all of them will present in all cases, and those that do may range from very subtle to very acute.

Some of the main symptoms of hypertension in dogs include:

  • Bloody urine.
  • Eye problems such as a gradual and progressive blindness, dilation of the pupils, or haemorrhaging of the tiny capillaries in the eyes, which can give the eyes a bloody or bloodshot appearance.
  • Frequent nose bleeds may occur in dogs with high blood pressure.
  • Affected dogs may suffer from seizures.
  • Your dog may appear dizzy and/or disoriented, and display strange or out of character behaviours.
  • Your dog may also be weak and lethargic, particularly in the limbs and sometimes, only on one side of the body.
  • Dogs may also suffer from headaches as a result of high blood pressure, and while your dog will not be able to tell you that their head hurts, if they appear to be in pain, unable to tolerate light, or very sensitive around their heads, this may be an indication.

How is the condition treated or managed?

Your vet can check your dog’s blood pressure and identify high blood pressure with a cuff device like doctors use on people, but this will not diagnose an underlying condition that causes the problem-and so a range of other tests may be required too.

In order to treat high blood pressure, the blood pressure must be brought back down to within normal parameters, and if the condition is caused by an underlying health condition, this means first bringing that condition under control.

For hereditary high blood pressure or if management is required alongside of treatment or management of an underlying condition, your vet may also prescribe medications like beta blockers to bring your dog’s blood pressure down and stabilise their condition.

Regular check-ups will be required to keep the condition managed properly, and adjustments to the medications may be needed from time to time too.Lifestyle changes such as a specialist diet and/or fitness regime may be indicated as well.

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