pulmonary hypertension in dogs

All About Pulmonary Hypertension in Dogs

Do you want to know all about Pulmonary Hypertension in dogs? What does it mean? How do you avoid it?

What is Pulmonary Hypertension in Dogs?

Pulmonary hypertension is basically high blood pressure that impacts the lungs and heart (associating with the lungs). Hypertension itself indicated high blood pressure, and the word pulmonary means “pertaining to the lungs”’.

So, a dog’s blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs is much higher than it should be!

What Causes Pulmonary Hypertension?

Pulmonary hypertension is just a fancy medical term for high blood pressure in the lungs. But what causes it? We’ll list four factors below that are a direct cause of pulmonary hypertension in dogs.

  • Arteries/ capillaries (tiny blood vessels) in the lungs narrow
  • Pulmonary artery blockage (the main artery to lungs)
  • Increased blood pressure in ling capillaries
  • Excessively high blood flow in lung arteries

congestive heart failure in dogs

So, does that mean your dog has lung or heart problems? Why is the heart involved at all, if ‘Pulmonary’ just means “of the lungs”?

Well, it’s not that simple. Many things that have to do with the lungs also involve the heart! After all, one is working to supply the other with oxygenated blood. Even a developmental heart defect can eventually lead to pulmonary hypertension.

Thankfully for all of us dog lovers, most dogs with pulmonary hypertension are elderly! It’s rare for this to be caused by a defect. Female dogs also suffer this more often than males.

Diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, and adrenal gland disease can also lead to high blood pressure in dogs. Like humans, stress can also affect BP levels, though usually temporarily.

How does high blood pressure in the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) affect the heart?

The right side of your dog’s heart is getting oxygen less blood and pumping it out toward the lungs, and the left side is receiving oxygen-rich blood from those lungs and pumping it out through the rest of the body via arteries.

So, let’s say those arteries are thinner for any reason. The heart now has to pump harder, sometimes sending even less blood out.

Causes of Pulmonary Hypertension in Dogs

So, let’s say those arteries are thinner for any reason. The heart now has to pump harder, sometimes sending even less blood out.

Blood carries oxygen, which our cells need to survive. What happens if our body’s tissues don’t get enough blood? They don’t get the right amount of oxygen.

This is why heart attacks (myocardial infarction) are so dangerous!

Signs of High Blood Pressure in Dogs

Below, we’ll list some of the signs of high blood pressure in dogs. Some of these are extreme, and not all will be present in every case!

  • Intolerance to exercise
  • Trouble breathing
  • rapid breathing
  • coughing
  • coughing/spitting up blood
  • fainting
  • weight loss
  • heart murmur
  • Bluish discoloration of skin
  • distended jugular veins
  • fluid buildup underneath skin
  • death

Normal Blood Pressure

An average dog’s normal blood pressure should fall between 110/60 to 160/90, slightly higher than a normal human’s bp. A dog’s blood pressure and heart rate, as well as other vitals, are naturally a little higher than a human’s.

Symptoms & Signs of canine Pulmonary Hypertension

Dogs can be considered hypertensive, or rather they have high blood pressure, if the ‘systolic’ (top number) is over 160, and the diastolic (bottom number) reaches over 100. These dogs are at risk for cardiovascular complications!

In other words, a blood pressure of 170/110 would be hypertensive!

What Exactly is Blood Pressure?

The pressure blood exerts against the walls of the heart’s arteries as they empty of blood then relax and fill back up is what we call “Blood Pressure”.

Systolic Pressure (top number): Max pressure against artery walls as heart contracts

Diastolic Pressure (bottom number): Minimum pressure against arterial walls

Is Pulmonary Hypertension in Dogs Dangerous?

This depends on how high the blood pressure is. Extremely high blood pressure can lead to things like:

  • Seizures
  • Partial paralysis
  • Heart murmurs or unusual rhythms
  • Other nervous system abnormalities
  • Heart attack and sudden death

This is almost always going to be more common in older dogs! It is, of course, also common in obese dogs. If you live in America, an enormous population of domestic dogs are sadly obese. Is your dog in shape?

various medications used for dogs to treat pulmonary hypertension

How Do I Lower my Dog’s BP?

Studies have shown that simply spending time with your furry pal will cause the release of serotonin and oxytocin, while lowering cortisol (stress hormone)! Together, scientists claim this can lower your pup’s blood pressure by as much as 10%.

Give your dog attention, keep him happy, and play!


Talk to your veterinarian about medication designed to lower Pulmonary Hypertension in Dogs. Your own pet might benefit from a medication regimen. Just be sure to only give medications prescribed by a veterinary physician!

Good Nutritional Plan

Diabetes is one of the many causes of a dog’s high blood pressure. Good nutrition is always important, and a high quality diet can help avoid these causes. What kind of nutritional regimen do you offer?

In general, your veterinarian will suggest a treatment plan according to the cause of your dog’s high blood pressure.

  • Nutrition doesn’t usually directly cause hypertension in dogs. Higher fat diets can lead to obesity in dogs, which can cause hypertension! Remember, about 25% of dogs in America, and many in other areas of the world, are considered obese.

dog owner with canine friend

Diseases Leading to High Blood Pressure in Dogs

Unlike humans, nutrition doesn’t often lead to high blood pressure in dogs directly (minus the obesity factor). Many diseases or disorders, however, can! According to the American Kennel Club, these are some of the many underlying conditions that can cause pulmonary hypertension:

  • Chronic Renal disease
  • Glomerular disease (a protein-losing kidney disease)
  • Endocrine disease
  • Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Acromegaly (growth hormone overproduction)
  • An adrenal tumour (pheochromocytoma)
  • Polycythemia (unusual increase in the number of red blood cells in the circulatory system)
  • Obesity

Dog Breeds at Higher Risk for Pulmonary Hypertension

You’re probably wondering if your dog breed is at higher risk for blood pressure issues. The unfortunate truth is- he or she might be. Many things that cause or contribute are hereditary, meaning conditions passed from mother/father to offspring, and more prevalent in certain breeds.

Consider having your dog genetically tested for any hereditary disorders he or she may develop in the future. Thanks to advances in science, these tests are common, and many companies provide them!

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