Hypertension in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention


A dog can have excessively high blood pressure, which irreparably leads to serious health problems if left untreated. Although arterial hypertension does not systematically lead to clinical signs, treatment should be initiated as quickly as possible because this cardiovascular disease can cause damage to certain organs in hypertensive dogs. Let’s do a check in.

Hypertension in dogs: idiopathic or secondary

There are two types of canine high blood pressure:

  • Essential hypertension also said primary hypertension: it is an idiopathic form, that is to say without a particular inherent cause, not very commonly observed in dogs and its incidence is still poorly understood. However, risk factors favor its appearance, such as obesity, lack of exercise or even an inadequate diet.
  • Secondary hypertension: it is caused by a disease whose evolution is devious. It causes complications in dogs who suffer from obesity or even who have, for example, a tumor, diabetes mellitus, increased glucocorticoid levels (hypercorticism), hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism …

When a dog presents a pathology such as those mentioned above, it is very important to have their blood pressure checked regularly. Indeed, this preventive measure makes it possible to treat the animal as soon as possible since it offers the opportunity to detect a number of diseases early. It is therefore recommended that all dog owners have a general check-up done once a year, or even every six months.

High blood pressure: the possible consequences for the dog

Hypertension is a serious disease because its consequences on certain organs are usually extremely serious. It can indeed cause serious damage to:

  • Mucous membranes: blood in the stool, bloody urine and other haemorrhages,
  • In one eye: retinal detachment, retinal edema, hemorrhage, loss of visual acuity,
  • Kidneys: renal failure,
  • From the heart: heart murmur, arrhythmia, cardiac hypertrophy, the cardiac muscle being excessively strained,
  • From the brain: blindness, epilepsy, loss of balance, haemorrhages, stroke (Cerebral Vascular Accident).

For avoid major injuries, you must consult the veterinarian urgently if there is any doubt.

Hypertension in dogs: the signs that should alert

As we have seen, high blood pressure does not always cause symptoms, but if it is caused by an underlying pathology – the most common form in dogs – the animal may show clinical signs such as :

  • Weakness,
  • Shortness of breath
  • Breathing difficulties,
  • Cough,
  • Bleeding …

Many other symptoms are observable, and they depend on the underlying disease. Thus, in addition to the physical and / or functional symptoms, one can also observe in the dog which suffers from hypertension manifestations in direct link with the cause of this hypertension, namely:

  • Eye problems (lesions, sudden blindness),
  • Events in the nervous system (coma, convulsions),
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Weight loss,
  • Polyuro-polydipsia (feeling of intense thirst and increased urine volume) …

We can therefore see how the symptoms of hypertension in dogs are very varied. Their intensity also depends on its level of development, of his severity and therefore damage that it has already caused on one or more organs.

Hypertension in Dogs: Diagnosis and Treatment

The veterinarian can diagnose hypertension based on the symptoms described by the owner of the animal. But he still measures blood pressure to confirm his diagnosis. For information, we are talking about normal blood pressure when the mean values ​​in the dog are between 85 and 120 mmHg (millimeters of mercury being the unit of pressure used).

Of Additional tests are essential to identify an underlying disease and therefore prescribe the appropriate treatment. This treatment, provided on a case-by-case basis, therefore depends on the pathology at the origin of the hypertension. Monitoring of the hypertensive dog is subsequently necessary and this involves a monthly check-up first to adjust the dosage, then every 3 to 6 months as appropriate. It is essential to respect this follow-up because in the event of overdose or underdose, recurrence is inevitable.

Hypertension in dogs: prevention

Everything must be done to prevent your dog from one day being confronted with hypertension. The means of prevention are the same as in humans. Thus, it is essential that the dog has a healthy lifestyle. This implies a balanced diet and sufficient daily physical activity to fight obesity.

It is imperative to ban sugar and limit salt in dogs, a tip that is intended more particularly for owners preparing their own rations for their animal or feeding their dog with leftover meals from family members. Finally, we must not neglect the health checks, routine examinations so important to detect early any problem of hypertension or underlying disease, and therefore geriatric check-ups in a dog from 7 years old because the more it advances in age, the more the animal is exposed to the risk of hypertension.

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