Most people are familiar with hypertension in people also known as “high blood pressure” but how many of us know that about 10% of dogs have it too? The problem is that our dogs cannot tell us if they are not feeling well. Therefore it is our responsibility to look for symptoms that could be a result of high blood pressure.
There are two types of high blood pressure in dogs, primary and secondary. Humans are more likely to have primary high blood pressure, which is when there is no underlying cause.
Secondary high blood pressure is when it is a result of a disease. Secondary high blood pressure is the most common one that affects dogs.
Unfortunately the signs for high blood pressure can also be signs of other medical problems in your dog. For example, high blood pressure can affect the eyes, central nervous system, heart and kidneys.
Typically there are no early signs of high blood pressure in dogs, sometimes the signs that we see are considered part of normal aging and could be overlooked.
Like humans, being obese is a cause of high blood pressure in dogs, and one thing that we can control. Regular exercise and keeping your dog’s weight at a normal level can help prevent high blood pressure.
Because the symptoms can be related to other medical issues, if you notice any change in your dog’s behavior, regardless of what age your dog is, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. In older dogs, do not assume that behavior changes are due to old age.
Some of the changes to look for are excessive drinking. Sometimes a dog owner will not know if their dog is drinking more water so another clue is if the dog has to urinate more often and/or larger amounts.
Changes in the dogs movement, how he walks, if he seems dizzy, or falls is another sign. The dog’s mental state, such as does he seem forgetful? Stand in a corner or seem to get lost?
Has the dog’s appetite changed? Is he less active? Does your dog pant excessively? Does he cough or seem short of breath? These are all symptoms that warrant an immediate visit to your veterinarian.
Sometimes changes happen gradually, therefore if your dog is a senior you should have your dog checked twice a year. Keep in mind that being a senior depends on the breed of dog. Some breeds can live to be 18 and some do not live past ten. Therefore check with your veterinarian to determine at what age your dog needs a twice a year check up. The good news is that high blood pressure in dogs is treatable with medications.