Pet Education

The Older Pet: The Cardiovascular System

By June 28, 2021No Comments

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common disorder in the older dog or cat. As in humans, there are usually no signs until it is quite advanced. Some of the advanced signs are blindness, heart disease and kidney disease. In cats, high blood pressure is associated with a high thyroid level, chronic kidney disease and diabetes. In dogs, it is associated with obesity, diabetes and Cushing’s Syndrome, a disease of the adrenal glands.

It is silent in that many animals have it without having any signs of illness. If hypertension is untreated, it can lead to many problems.

The best way to find out if your dog or cat has high blood pressure is to have your veterinarian measure it. It is easy to do and not painful. Up until recently, blood pressure monitors were not designed for cats, but now there are several different monitors that can measure their blood pressure which are very effective.

If your cat or dog is elderly or has one of the diseases mentioned above, you may want to get his or her blood pressure checked. If it is high, treatment can be started to lower it.

The blood pressure will need to be checked periodically, especially after the medicine has been started to lower it. This will ensure that the medicine is being given in the correct amount, and that there are no side effects. There are many animals that suffer from primary hypertension, which is hypertension without any underlying cause such as hyperthyroidism. These cases must be treated also, and may benefit greatly by medical intervention.

Blood Pressure Values


  • Normal: From 123/81 to 160/100
  • Hypertensive: Systolic greater than 170; Diastolic greater than 100.


  • Normal: 140/85
  • Hypertensive: Systolic greater than 160; Diastolic greater than 95.

At Vet-on-Wheels, we are equipped with state-of-the-art blood pressure monitoring capabilities that can be easily applied to your cat or dog. Since this is done in your own home, the “white coat effect,” which can be somewhat stressful on the pet, is lessened and a more accurate reading can be obtained. If a problem is found, medication can be prescribed to normalize the blood pressure.
In addition to measuring blood pressure, we now have the ability to do at-home EKGs, which measure the heart rate and rhythm and can detect any cardiac disturbances (abnormalities).

The EKG is transmitted via the telephone to Veterinary Heart Sounds where a team of veterinary cardiologists is available to analyze the readings. They fax a report within 24 hours, including any abnormalities, recommended diagnostic tests and treatment options.
With the addition of these procedures done in the comfort of your own home, you can keep your older pet healthy and happy for many years to come.