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By Dr. Becker
Greyhounds are known to have higher blood pressure (BP) readings than other breeds. A normal blood pressure in dogs, as in humans, is 120 over 80.
Since blood pressure is usually measured in a clinical setting, researchers in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine decided to see if the higher BP readings were at least in part due to ‘white-coat effect.’
White-coat effect, also known as white coat hypertension or white coat syndrome, is a situation in which patients experience higher blood pressure when visiting the doctor, or in any medical-type setting, but not in other settings.
According to Guillermo Couto, DVM, professor of veterinary clinical sciences at Ohio State University and senior author of the study:
“Some greyhounds come in here with blood pressure above what an instrument can read.
That is, 300 systolic.
We know this could not really be their blood pressure because these dogs would be dead.
But we also almost never get blood pressure under 150 or 160 for systolic.”
It is assumed these higher BP readings are due to the anxiety many patients (humans and pets) feel during a clinic visit.
The OSU Study
The study involved 22 healthy, retired racing greyhounds that were part of a blood donation program at OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Systemic blood pressure and heart rate were measured in three different situations, including:
- In the hospital by the investigator
- In the dog’s home by the investigator
- In the dog’s home by the owner
There was a significant difference between BP and HR readings at the hospital versus at home, but there was no significant difference in the two readings done in the home.
According to Veterinary Practice News:
“The average systolic arterial pressure of the 22 dogs tested in the study was 30 points higher when recorded in a clinic than when recorded at home.”
Despite repeated hospital visits, which did decrease heart rate readings in the greyhounds, blood pressure readings remained high. It seems the presence of the owner is more calming to these dogs than repeated exposure to a clinical setting.
Researchers concluded elevated BP and heart rates in retired racing greyhounds in clinical settings are likely the result of a white-coat effect.
They suggest before diagnosing or ruling out hypertension, there is a need to consider where the BP reading is taken. The researchers also discovered that BP measures taken in hind limbs tended to be higher than when front legs were used.
The study authors also suggest owners of retired racing greyhounds take BP recordings at home if possible to get a more accurate reading.