Doctor's white coat causes greyhounds' blood pressure to rise, finds study.
In a new study, researchers have determined that anxiety associated with being in a veterinary hospital elevates the blood pressure in retired racing greyhounds - a breed known for having higher-than-average blood pressure in the first place.
The average systolic arterial pressure - the top number in a blood pressure reading - in the dogs was about 30 points higher in a veterinary clinic when compared to blood pressure recorded at home, the report said.
"We see a lot of greyhounds and they are very high-strung dogs," said Guillermo Couto, who teaches veterinary clinical sciences at the Ohio State University and senior study author.
"Some greyhounds come in here with blood pressure above what an instrument can read - that is 300 systolic,' said Couto.
"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," he added.
The environment seemed to make all the difference. Blood pressure readings recorded in a home were similar when taken by either a veterinary student or the dog's owner. In general, normal blood pressure in dogs, as in humans, is 120 over 80.
Some animals' blood pressure readings normalize after they've had time to acclimate to the hospital setting, but in these greyhounds, that trend is less common.
According to the researchers, this study suggests that the presence of the dog owner might have a more calming effect than the passage of time in the clinic.
The study has been published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.