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Today is National Dog Day


Happy Dog playing with caregiver

To celebrate National Dog Day and to promote canine health, we took a look at some of the most common causes of hypertension in dogs



You may be familiar with the causes and effects of hypertension, or high blood pressure, in humans, but hypertension in dogs presents itself differently than human hypertension. The most common type of hypertension in humans is primary hypertension, where the cause of the hypertension cannot be determined. On the other hand, secondary hypertension, where the hypertension is caused by another disease, is only found in about 10% of hypertension cases in humans1. This trend is almost completely reversed in canine populations. In dogs, the more common form of hypertension, accounting for about 80% of cases2, is secondary hypertension.

Most Common Causes of Hypertension in Dogs

  • Renal Disease:

    Renal disease, or chronic kidney disease, occurs when the kidneys are no longer able to fully perform their function of filtering blood, processing waste, and balancing the body’s water, salts, and acids3. This could happen for a range of reasons, including infection, kidney stones, cancer, and genetics.

  • Hyperthyroidism:

    Too much activity of the thyroid gland leads to hyperthyroidism. While not very frequently found in dogs, the most common cause of hyperthyroidism is thyroid cancer. Routine baseline testing of the blood is crucial to identifying thyroid issues as early as possible4.

  • Diabetes:

    About 1 in 160 dogs is affected by diabetes, which occurs when the body’s ability to produce insulin is impaired. Although Type 2 diabetes is the most common type in humans, Type 1 diabetes is the only type that affects dogs5. Diabetes is frequently caused by autoimmune disorders, pancreatic damage, or other diseases that lead to insulin resistance.

  • Hyperadrenocorticism:

    Hyperadrenocorticism, or Cushing’s disease, is caused by overproduction of glucocorticoid in the body. This disease occurs in older dogs when the pituitary or adrenal glands act irregularly. Treatment may include surgery or medications6.

  • Hepatic Disease:

    Hepatic disease is a disease of the liver, which is the organ responsible for producing bile, metabolizing fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, and filtering the blood. The most common sign of hepatic disease is jaundice in the eyes, gums, and ears7. This disease can be caused by viral or bacterial infection, hormonal diseases, cysts, and cancer.

Although there are a few differences between hypertension in humans and dogs, one thing remains the same despite the species: regular blood pressure screenings are essential to catching hypertension as early as possible and before too much damage is caused.


  1. Causes of Secondary Hypertension.
  2. High Blood Pressure in Dogs.
  3. Clements, Celeste. Chronic Kidney Disease: What Does Kidney Failure in Dogs Really Mean?
  4. Paul, Mike. Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism in Dogs.
  5. Puotinen, CJ, and Mary Straus. “Managing Diabetes in Dogs.” Whole Dog Journal, 1 May 2012,
  6. Foster and Smith. “Cushing's Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism) in Dogs.” PetCoach, Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department,
  7. Vogelsang, Jessica. Liver Disease in Dogs.


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