Cats, dogs can get high blood pressure

Q: “Sweetie,” my sweet little cat, just had her annual visit. My vet recommended that we check my cat’s blood pressure! I have never heard of such a thing. Yes, Sweetie is getting older, and yes, my vet did find a few changes on her exam and blood tests. Do cats really get high blood pressure? P.L., Farragut

A: Yes, cats (and dogs) can have hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure. High blood pressure in cats can be primary or secondary. Primary hypertension means that there is no known cause or disease causing the hypertension. Secondary hypertension is far more common. Causes of secondary hypertension include kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid disease and adrenal disease. Certain medications can also cause hypertension.

On physical exam, there are several things that could have prompted your veterinarian’s recommendation. Cats with hypertension can have ocular, cardiac or neurologic abnormalities, and occasionally, the physical exam is normal.

Certainly, we understand that some cats don’t enjoy a trip to the vet. If your pet seems especially nervous, your veterinarian may recommend rechecking the blood pressure again in a week to confirm the diagnosis. “White coat syndrome” happens with cats and dogs just as it does with people, thus causing artificially high readings. Using a special machine made for animals, readings for cats should be under 150/95 mmHg.

If Sweetie ends up having high blood pressure, please know that there is medication to treat it. It is important to know if a concurrent disease is present or not, as she will needed to have both conditions treated for optimal health and blood pressure control.

Best of luck to her.

If you have questions about your pet, you may e-mail Dr. Myers at