Jody's blog

Considering High Blood Pressure

By Dr. Jody Kaufman

High blood pressure can be a problem for humans as they age. The same is true for dogs and cats. High blood pressure (hypertension) can result from problems in other systems. Kidney disease is one example.

When kidney function is impaired, fewer metabolic waste products are excreted. Their build-up becomes toxic and leads to the signs of kidney failure. The body, in its wisdom, has mechanisms to increase blood pressure so that more fluids and waste products are pushed through the kidney. That would be great except that it’s structurally damaging to the kidneys. This feedback loop also occurs in other systems, where compensatory mechanisms backfire and cause further damage. In essence, kidney problems can lead to high blood pressure, but high blood pressure can damage the kidneys.

What can we do to help? The combination of blood pressure medicines and special diets can be beneficial in stabilizing blood pressure as well as kidney function.

Certain heart conditions can also cause elevated blood pressure. Hyperthyroidism occurs fairly commonly in middle-aged and older cats. These patients have a “hyperdynamic” metabolism, so that the typical hyperthyroid cat will have lost weight, have a racing heart, and a heart murmur in many cases. They can also have hypertension, which usually resolves once the thyroid is under control.

Camille

by Dr. Jody Kaufman

CamilleShe had been with us since the ice storm. A good Samaritan found her wandering on North Road in Brentwood, thought she'd been hit by a car, and brought her to the clinic. It was a reasonable assumption — she was blind and had hemorrhage inside one eye. She was clearly not a stray: elderly, sweet, arthritic; there was no way she could have been living out on her own.

We made numerous phone calls — to the animal shelter, to all the surrounding veterinary clinics, to people who lived on North Road, and to the town offices, to see if anyone was missing a petite tortoiseshell cat; all to no avail. We treated her high blood pressure and her eyes, waiting for her people to show up. They never did. Brandy and Lindsay named her Camille.

Caring for your aging pet

by Dr. Jody Kaufman

Time seems to pass so quickly that it can take us by surprise when our pets show signs of aging. Under even the best circumstances, animals age at an accelerated rate compared to humans. The "seven years for one of ours" rule is a reasonable simplified estimate, but the rate of aging in dogs is based roughly on their size. A seven year-old Great Dane is geriatric, while a little poodle of the same age is only middle aged.

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