Monitoring Blood Pressures in Dogs and Cats

William Fullmer DVM By William Fullmer DVM, 1st Oct 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Pets>Dogs

Part of every visit to you physician’s office is a blood pressure reading, it is so routine that you would question why no one took your blood pressure if they didn’t. Until recently veterinary offices haven’t had the equipment to read blood pressure routinely because of technical challenges in animals. Recently however these obstacles have been overcome and more and more clinics can now offer blood pressure readings for their patients.

A routine diagnostic from human medicine is finding new life in veterinary medicine.

A routine diagnostic from human medicine is finding new life in veterinary medicine. Part of every visit to you physician’s office is a blood pressure reading, it is so routine that you would question why no one took your blood pressure if they didn’t. Until recently veterinary offices haven’t had the equipment to read blood pressure routinely because of technical challenges in animals. Recently however these obstacles have been overcome and more and more clinics can now offer blood pressure readings for their patients.

Hypertension in dogs and cats results from many different reasons. Some common causes are; heart disease, kidney dysfunction, heartworm infestation, an overactive adrenal gland, lung disease and hyperthyroidism to name a few1. As in humans, many cases have no diagnosable cause1.

Hypertension in animals unusually goes unnoticed by owners because clinical sings mimic other diseases and are subtle, especially at first. We generally say that systolic blood pressures above 160 mm Hg and diastolic pressures greater than 95 mm Hg are abnormal1.

As in humans high blood pressure can cause a myriad of problems. Hypertension may cause blindness due to retinal detachment, confusion due to vascular disruption to the brain, and worsening of the underlying conditions stated previously.

We suggest blood pressure measurement on most of our older and or sick patients. It is more complicated than blood pressure measurement in humans, due to differences in anatomy, therefore specialized instruments have been developed to meet the needs of animals. Our patients must hold still for us to accurately measure their blood pressure which poses another challenge. Veterinarians must spend more time in order to get accurate results.

As with humans an animal’s blood pressure may be falsely elevated due to anxiety about being in the office. Because of this your veterinarian may ask you to come back to the clinic to have the blood pressure evaluated at least one more time, especially if there is only a mild elevation in the readings. You should also expect to pay separately for blood pressure analysis in animals due to the cost of equipment, and the extra time, effort, and expertise needed.

High blood pressure can often be managed by administration of oral medications and of course treatment of the underlying causes if they can be identified. While it is not yet proven to help in veterinary medicine, I often suggest a prescription low salt diet as the causes of high blood pressure do benefit from specialized diets. Your veterinarian will also need to perform periodic monitoring in order to adjust medication levels and to manage the underlying condition if one has been identified.

1. Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice 496-497

Tags

Blood Pressure, Cat, Cat Care, Cat Facts, Cat Health, Cats, Dog Facts, Dogs, Dogs And Cats, Dogs Health

Meet the author

author avatar William Fullmer DVM
Dr. Fullmer graduated from Washington State University with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. He also graduated from the University of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in Veterinary Sciences and f

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