High blood pressure in dogs and cats is proving to be much more common than we Vets once thought it was. While the overall incidence remains low, high blood pressure is fairly common in certain sub-groups of animals. The advent, in recent years, of simple, inexpensive blood pressure monitors that are accurate for dogs and cats has greatly expanded our appreciation of incidence of high blood pressure.
Unlike humans, dogs and cats seldom develop high blood pressure without a good reason.
So, when we find high blood pressure, the next things to do is look for some underlying cause. The most common underlying causes of canine or feline hypertension are:
Kidney Disease or Kidney Failure - Systemic hypertension and associated complications develop in about 20% of affected cats and dogs and can occur at any stage in the disease process.
Diabetes Mellitus – in one study, 46% of dogs with naturally occurring Diabetes also had high blood pressure. Cats are likely similar.
Hyperthyroidism (cats) – high blood pressure occurs in about 20% of cats with over-active thyroid glands.
Cushing’s disease (dogs) – in one study, about 46.7% of dogs with Cushing’s disease also had secondary high blood pressure.
Pheochromocytoma - an uncommon tumor of the adrenal gland; mostly in dogs
Various Miscellaneous Conditions – e.g. Erlichiosis, Cardiomyopathy, and certain cancers like Lymphosarcoma
The good news is that high blood pressure in dogs and cats is nearly always treatable. Furthermore, since it is usually linked to some other disease process, then the finding of hypertension can be a valuable clue for a Vet, indicating that something more serious may be developing, under the hood.
So the next time, you take your dog or cat to the Vet, don’t be surprised if we ask him or her to extend their paw for a blood pressure test!