The dangers of high blood pressure and your pet
The next time you take your dog or cat to the veterinarian, ask if a blood pressure check is part of the regular routine examination and if your veterinarian considers a blood pressure check necessary for your particular pet. Continue reading to learn why.
The signs of high blood pressure can be very subtle, especially if you don’t know what to look for. Joe Martins, DVM, Belle Mead Animal Hospital, advised that a cat’s eyes are so sensitive to high blood pressure that the cat will become permanently blind if he/she is not diagnosed and treated early enough.
Blood pressure can and should be measured in dogs and cats. It is most commonly checked during surgery or following trauma to evaluate for low blood pressure (hypotension). However, during yearly wellness examinations in certain patients, blood pressure should also be measured to evaluate for high blood pressure (hypertension).
“We recommend that all pets over the age of seven have their blood pressure checked twice a year. If the pet has been diagnosed with high blood pressure, then their blood pressure should be checked every three to six months," said Dr. Martins. “In cats, hypertension is usually secondary to chronic kidney disease and hyperthyroidism that occur in geriatric patients. Early treatment is easy and affordable.”
What are the signs to look for if you suspect hypertension in your pet? If your pet is not jumping on and off things as much, losing its balance, displays weakness in the rear legs, or its eyes are dilated more than usual, notify your veterinarian immediately. Cats, in particular, can fool owners by using their other senses. Cats that are losing their vision will use their whiskers to get around and will still go up and down stairs, for example. They will find food by using their sense of smell, and the pet owner may not realize there is a problem with their sight.
Here are some facts to be aware of with regard to high blood pressure and your pet:
• 75% of cats older than seven years of age will develop kidney problems or hyperthyroidism, and 75% of those cats will develop high blood pressure.
• Animals who are diabetic or cushingoid also may develop hypertension.
• All these conditions, including high blood pressure, are treatable if caught early enough.
The moral of the story? Make sure you take your pet for his/her regular wellness exam as recommended by your veterinarian and remember to discuss blood pressure during your visit.
Susan, Taurus and Gemini
First published in National Pet Health