Last week I saw Susie, a middle aged Labrador who suddenly went blind. Over the previous 18 months, there had been a few episodes of blood in one eye, but these had resolved. Now Susie had partially detached retinas, inflammation in her eyes and no vision in either eye. Examination revealed no other clues aside from high blood pressure. Since high blood pressure alone is not very common in dogs, an extensive evaluation was done to try to find the source of her hypertension and the cause of her ocular problems. Labwork, chest x-rays and infectious disease screening were normal. Susie has seen a veterinary ophthalmologist and will be seeing a veterinary cardiologist this week – it looks like high blood pressure is the reason for her vision loss. While we will likely be able to control the hypertension, she will probably never see again. Luckily, Susie is already adjusting to her blindness.
High blood pressure in both dogs and cats is not uncommon, but is usually associated with diseases such as kidney failure, heart disease, Cushing ™s disease or hyperthyroidism. Animals that have these diseases should have their blood pressure checked regularly. Cats occasionally get primary hypertension and so should be screened as they age. Getting a blood pressure reading in a pet is much more difficult than with a person, so it is not part of our regular exams, unless we see signs of high blood pressure. Unfortunately, signs of hypertenison are quite severe, as we saw with Susie.
Our doctors and nursing team are prepared to help you with wellness screening and to moitor your pets with chronic disease. Come see us.
by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP