If you've been to the doctor lately, your physician probably took your blood pressure, and for good reason.
High blood pressure is known as “the silent killer.” Think of your blood vessels as a garden hose. Now picture that garden hose attached to a high pressure system like a fire hydrant. The garden hose will only be able to stretch so much until it starts to leak. When our blood vessels are under pressure, they leak too, and this bleeding wreaks havoc on our organs (notably the eyes and kidneys).
Why am I going on and on about your blood pressure? Because high blood pressure (or hypertension) also affects our pets in exactly the same way. Granted, our pets aren’t under the same stress factors. They don’t care about the economy, and most of them don’t have high stress jobs. In fact, you may wonder how your cat, who seems to sleep 23 hours a day, could even have high blood pressure!
In humans, hypertension is most often a primary disease, meaning that it develops without another medical cause. But in pets, it is almost always a secondary disease. Several underlying medical conditions can lead to hypertension, such as:
- chronic kidney failure
- Cushing’s disease
Luckily, high blood pressure is easy to detect. Blood pressure in cats and dogs is measured almost exactly the same way as it is in humans. A blood pressure cuff is placed around an arm or tail and a measurement is obtained. Pets are often very nervous at the veterinarian’s office, so we take several measurements to make sure we get an accurate reading.
Your pet’s blood pressure should be monitored if she or he has medical conditions that may cause hypertension. Additionally, geriatric pets should be screened at their semi-annual exams. If your veterinarian hasn’t taken your geriatric pet’s blood pressure before, you may want to discuss if it is necessary.
If your dog or cat is diagnosed with high blood pressure, he or she will be started on oral medications intended to bring it down to normal levels. Frequent rechecks will be necessary at first to ensure that the dosage is correct, so having Petplan pet insurance, which covers chronic conditions for the life of your pet, can help with the vet bills.
Hypertension is a silent killer in our pets, too, and should not be ignored. By getting your pet’s blood pressure under control, you will not only make her feel like a million bucks again, but you can save her from serious complications such as organ damage down the road.