Senior dogs, particularly those suffering from chronic diseases such as kidney disease and diabetes, are predisposed to hypertension. Let’s look at some of the most obvious signs of high blood pressure in dogs:
Above are the typical dog high blood pressure symptoms. It is important to note that if dogs have only mild hypertension, they often do not show obvious symptoms, these symptoms gradually appear only when the blood pressure is above a critical value as the disease progresses. (There are differences in the critical value of blood pressure among different breed variation. I will list the specific values for you in later chapter)
No one wants to see a beloved dog found to have severe high blood pressure at the last minute. So how to prevent dogs from developing severe high blood pressure? First of all, we need to know which kind of dogs are more likely to develop high blood pressure:
- Sighthound breeds are more prone to hypertension. The blood pressure of sight hound breeds (Afghan hound, Azawakh, Borzoi, Greyhound, Irish Wolfhound, Scottish Deerhound, Whippet) is higher than that of scent hounds.
- Other breeds prone to hypertension. According to statistics, Australian Terrier, Bichon Frise, Dachshund, Poodle, Schnauzer, Spitz are more prone to hypertension.
- Diseases easily induced or accompanied by hypertension. Dogs with the following diseases are more likely associated with hypertension.
- Cushing’s disease
- Kidney disease (hypertension was observed in 93% of dogs with kidney disease in a study)
- High-sodium diet. Dogs on a long-term high-sodium (high-salt) diet have a higher risk of hypertension.
- Overweight. Like humans, obese and overweight dogs are more likely to suffer from hypertension.
Despite breed differences, we can clearly see from the above list that dogs prone to hypertension usually have some related diseases or bad living habits before they get sick. This can easily lead to the misconception that my dog, who eats organic dog food all day and exercises constantly, is extremely healthy and will never develop hypertension. However, according to a research, hypertension was observed in as many as 10% of “healthy dogs”.
To make matters worse, when you take your dog to the vet for a routine physical examination, your vet will usually not recommend routine screening for hypertension unless your old pal has obvious symptoms.
For owners who are concerned about the health of their senior dogs, not monitoring blood pressure is definitely not a good choice.
Blood pressure monitoring may be required on a weekly or monthly basis. You may not have time to take your dog to the veterinarian as frequently as you would like, but as long as you have an electronic sphygmomanometer, you can measure her blood pressure at home.
Guidelines on how to measure blood pressure in dogs:
- Equipment required: household electronic sphygmomanometer
- Where to do: a quiet room
- Who will do: the one your dog trusts most
- Step 1: Let the dog get used to the cuff of the sphygmomanometer
- If your dog is nervous about the cuff or dislikes wearing it, try to accustom the dog to it before monitioring.
- let your dog wear for about 5 minutes at a time.
- Appease the dog when wearing, make him understand that there is no harm, dispel his doubts and fears.
- Remove the cuff after every 5 minutes of wearing, then reapply the cuff to the dog and repeat the above procedure until the dog is comfortable wearing the cuff.
- It is critical to complete the preceding steps so that the dog is not resistant to the measurement and can cooperate well with you.
- Step 2: Let the dog lie down in a quiet room
- Take your dog to a quiet room she knows best, away from other animals and distractions like a loud TV, a working washing machine, etc.
- Let the dog stay in this room for 5-10 minutes to calm down.
- Let the dog lie down in either a ventral or lateral position(depending on your old pal’s preference). The purpose of these two supine positions is to keep the cuff closer to the dog’s heart, resulting in a more accurate measurement.
- Step 3: Wear cuff and read
- Place the cuff on one of the dog’s front legs or the hind legs.
- Press the start button and check the sphygmomanometer reading every few minutes for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- To ensure consistency, repeat the measurements with the dog in the same position and using the same leg.
- Get at least seven readings.
- Note: Please keep the dog in the same lying position once you begin measuring. If the dog moves her legs during the measurement, the distance between the cuff and the heart changes, resulting in a significant deviation in the measured value.
- Step 4: Remove the reading that are too high and too low
- The first measurement should be discarded and an average of 5-7 consecutive and consistent indirect measurements should be obtained.
- If there is a significant change, the reading should be discarded and the process repeated.
- Step 5: Calculate blood pressure
- Take the average of all retained diastolic blood pressure, which is the diastolic blood pressure of the dog.
- Take the average of all retained systolic pressure, which is the dog’s systolic blood pressure.
According to general guidelines from Veterinary Blood Pressure Society, below is the classification of hypertension in dogs and cats:
The following are the reference values of normal blood pressure for different breeds of dogs:
How to prevent dog hypertension?
The most effective ways to prevent hypertension in dogs:
- A healthy diet (low-fat & low-sodium)
- Necessary supplements (Omega-3)
Feeding dog food that meets AAFCO standards (specific for breed & age) can not only meet the daily nutritional needs of dogs, reduce the chance of suffering from hypertension, but also greatly reduce the risks of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD) . For more information, see this blog post.
The use of low-fat and low-sodium food for senior dogs, as well as the proper addition of omega-3-rich fish oil, will have a certain preventive effect. The recommended therapeutic dose of omega-3 (EPA + DHA) for Cardiovascular disorders is 115mg/kg or 63.56mg/lb. Note: The National Research Council’s safe upper limit dose of omega 3 (EPA + DHA) for dogs is 370mg/kg (204.5mg/lb).
Remember that contacting your vet as soon as possible is alway the best choice if you suspect your dog has hypertension.