Pulmonary Hypertension





Pulmonary Hypertension is a life threatening disease that is commonly under diagnosed in the canine and a number of conditions are responsible for its occurrence. In dogs, while it is most commonly associated with heartworm infection, PH has numerous other causes related to cardiovascular disorders and / or respiratory disease including

  • degenerative heart valve disease

  • cardiomyopathies

  • congenital heart disease

       and chronic respiratory diseases

  • chronic bronchitis

  • interstitial lung disease,

  • pulmonary thromboembolism.


An attempt should be made to identify the cause because in some cases, it can be treated or the disease process slowed.


PH can present as either acute or chronic and an increase in pulmonary vascular resistance (PVR) is responsible. The increase in PVR seen with PH raises PA pressure. Acute PH is a critical event that can be life ending. Chronic elevated PVR and the subsequent PH results in structural changes in the pulmonary vasculature and thickening of cardiac walls that permanently reduce vascular compliance. Therefore chronic PVR will result in PH even with normal cardiac output.


The single most important test used to identify Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension and assess its severity is the echocardiogram. The echocardiogram is used to diagnose PH as well as to assess its severity.


Dogs can be diagnosed with mild, moderate or severe PH.

Clinical signs for mild and moderate PH include


  • exercise intolerance

  • faint/collapse with exertion.

  • trouble breathing

  • right sided congestive heart failure


There is no known cure for pulmonary hypertension so the goal of treatment is to control symptoms and make the pets remaining life as comfortable as possible.

Diagnosis & Symptoms

Causes & Effects

Pulmonary Hypertension (PH) is the term used to describe abnormally elevated blood pressure in the lungs. 


The right side of the heart pumps blood through the lungs, where it picks up oxygen. Blood returns to the left side of the heart, where it is pumped to the rest of the body.When the small arteries (blood vessels) of the lung become narrowed, they cannot carry as much blood. When this happens, pressure builds up. This is called pulmonary hypertension.The heart needs to work harder to force the blood through the vessels against this pressure. Over time, this causes the right side of the heart to become larger. At this point, heart failure affects the right side of the heart.

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