Do Pets Develop High Blood Pressure?
We have learned over the past twenty years that pets can develop high blood pressure. Just like in people, high blood pressure is difficult or impossible to detect unless you screen for it. When you go to the doctor, it is relatively easy to check your blood pressure. In animals, the task is considerably more complicated, requiring special equipment, training, and patience.
A pet’s blood pressure can be checked during an office visit in two ways. One uses a blood pressure cuff with internal sensors to indirectly measure the pressure. These machines are similar to the self-test type commonly found in drug stores or in the waiting room of your doctor’s office, which places a pressure cuff over the dog’s wrist. This type of machine works best for medium to large dogs, but for small dogs, and definitely for cats, another technology is more accurate. The Doppler ultrasonic blood flow detector, also used with a cuff (often employed at the base of the tail or at the wrist) can be more accurate. Our staff uses both technologies at P.S.V.C.
Sometimes the most important part of the entire procedure is to do this without stressing out the animal, as we all are aware of “white coat syndrome” and it’s affect to raise our blood pressure artificially at our doctor’s office. Five to seven measurements have to be taken, often disregarding the high and low values, then averaging the rest.
The pet’s level of excitement is also taken into consideration.
Most hypertension in pets is secondary to another disease process. Kidney disease, hormone imbalances (like hyperthyroidism in cats or cushings disease in dogs), and heart disease are the most common risk factors. Unchecked, high blood pressure can lead to progressive kidney disease with leaking of protein into the urine, retinal detachments and strokes with secondary neurologic problems.
Normal blood pressures in pets in the clinic should be under 160.
If you pet is not agitated or afraid and an accurate measurement is found to be over 170 to 180, we will prescribe a medication trial and recheck the pressure until it is under 160. Sometimes a combination of medications is required to achieve this.
While many animals whose blood pressure we check are older geriatrics, our doctors may recommend blood pressure screening at any age to ensure this silent, serious disease doesn’t sneak up on your pet.
Pittsburgh Spay & Vaccination Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service suburban veterinary facility serving the Pittsburgh Area since 1980.. We offer diagnostic, medical, surgical, and dental care to dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, and pocket pets in the Pittsburgh area.
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