Silent Disease. Canine Hypertension numbers may be increasing due to better screening. Chagrin Falls, Ohio- July 19. 2008 – For people, avoiding high blood pressure entails eating right, getting enough exercise, avoiding high risk activities such as smoking and drinking, and hopefully getting the right combination of genes. Since our dogs rarely indulge in any high risk activities, why are veterinarians concerned about hypertension in our pets?
Measuring blood pressure is a standard practice in most human doctors’ offices and has been for many years. It is also a fairly simple and straightforward procedure, ultimately giving the M.D. an accurate and repeatable vital sign. For our pets, however, the measurement is not as easy. First, for many years, there has not been a good, reliable, non-invasive method of measuring blood pressure in pets. Second, the body shape of our dogs and cats make it more difficult to get accurate, reproducible readings, and finally, it has historically not been an important enough vital sign to worry about in pets.
Recent research is now showing that high blood pressure, or hypertension, is much more common in pets than previously thought. Some studies have shown that up to 93% of dogs with kidney problems also suffer from an increased blood pressure. Luckily, primary hypertension, which is very common in people, is less common in pets. The good thing about this is that treating the underlying problem can often help alleviate the blood pressure increases. However, high blood pressure in our pets rarely shows any outward signs. A dog that suddenly loses his vision is perhaps the most common clinical sign of hypertension.
As technology has advanced, devices for easily taking a blood pressure reading on our pets have also advanced. Now, many veterinarians keep a Doppler, non-invasive blood pressure monitor as part of their standard equipment. Although the skills for measuring blood pressure increase every year, it is important to remember that a single blood pressure measurement should never be used to determine if your pet has high blood pressure. Veterinarians will take into account the stress of the visit as well as other factors to help you determine what steps to take to protect your pet.
If your pet is over 9 years old, ask your veterinarian about measuring his or her blood pressure. Silent Disease.