Why we should monitor your pet’s blood pressure
Our pets can develop high blood pressure or hypertension just as humans. An increase in blood pressure is caused by resistance of blood flow through a vessel. This resistance will cause the heart, which pumps and moves blood through the body, to work harder and eventually increase in size. This can lead to heart disease, clot formation and reduced blood flow to vital organs such as the kidneys and brain. All of the conditions are potentially life threatening.

Several serious illnesses will cause an elevation in systemic blood pressure as well. Kidney disease is one of the most common causes of secondary hypertension. Approximately 93% of dogs and 65% of cats with kidney disease also suffer from hypertension. Cats with hyperthyroidism also will have high blood pressure and should be monitored regularly. Other causes include Diabetes, Cushing’s Disease, Heart Disease, Polycythemia, (increase in Red Blood Cells), Central Nervous system Disease and acute collapse or weakness. Untreated hypertension can lead to congestive heart failure, blindness, renal failure or a clot or aneurism.

Some clinical signs of hypertension include dilated pupils, apparent, sudden blindness, hemorrhage in the eye, blood in the urine, seizures, disorientation, heart murmurs, trouble walking or collapse. In severe, unregulated cases the animal may have full blown congestive heart failure and exhibit a cough, collapse or exercise intolerance.

Measuring your pet’s blood pressure is an easy, noninvasive process and performed similarly to the way our pressure is obtained. Treatment involves investigation for an underlying cause which may include x-rays and bloodwork depending on the individual case. From there, medication to regulate the blood pressure would be administered by mouth. Blood pressure should then be monitored weekly until it has normalized. Once medication is begun bloodwork and urinalysis is required to prevent side effects of the drugs.

If your pet is known to have any of the diseases listed above or is exhibiting any of the noted clinical signs make sure you request to have his or her blood pressure tested immediately. Not addressing blood pressure could cause your pet a great deal of harm!