Evaluation of presentation, treatment and outcome in hypertensive emergency in dogs and cats: 15 cases (2003-2019)

J Small Anim Pract. 2022 Oct;63(10):784-791. doi: 10.1111/jsap.13530. Epub 2022 Jul 10.


Objectives: Hypertensive emergency is well recognised in human medicine, yet there is limited veterinary evidence. This study aimed to determine the presentation, treatment and outcome in dogs and cats with hypertensive emergency.

Materials and methods: A retrospective case series of dogs and cats with hypertensive emergency identified as follows: acute history with non-invasive Doppler systolic blood pressure greater than 180 mmHg and target organ damage including acute onset seizures, altered mentation with or without lateral recumbency or blindness. Data collected included signalment, history, physical examination and clinicopathological findings, systolic blood pressure, antihypertensive treatment and outcome.

Results: Seven dogs and eight cats were included presenting with seizures (n=9), blindness (n=4), altered mentation with (n=2) or without (n=2) lateral recumbency. Median age was 9 years (range 1 to 15) and duration of clinical signs before presentation was 1.5 days (range 1 to 15). Median systolic blood pressure on presentation was 230 mmHg (range 190 to 300). Amlodipine was the most common first-line agent (n=10), followed by hydralazine (n=4) and hypertonic saline (n=1). Aetiology of hypertensive emergency was acute kidney injury (n=9), idiopathic hypertension (n=3), hyperthyroidism (n=1), lymphoma (n=1) and suspected cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (n=1). Five cats and three dogs survived to discharge with an overall survival of 53.3%.

Clinical significance: Hypertensive emergencies had various presenting signs in this series. AKI was considered to be the cause of hypertension in the majority of patients. Further evaluation of treatment for hypertensive emergencies is warranted, considering almost half of the cases did not survive to discharge.

MeSH terms

  • Amlodipine / therapeutic use
  • Animals
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blindness / complications
  • Blindness / drug therapy
  • Blindness / veterinary
  • Cat Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cat Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Cats
  • Dog Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Dog Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Dogs
  • Emergencies / veterinary
  • Humans
  • Hydralazine / therapeutic use
  • Hypertension* / drug therapy
  • Hypertension* / veterinary
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / veterinary
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Amlodipine
  • Hydralazine