Letchworth Veterinary Centre 01462 685882


See what we can offer


See what we can offer



Find out what to do in an emergency



Find advice about when to book your pet in and learn about the procedure

Our Services

  • Allergy Treatments

  • Blood Testing

  • Cancer Treatments

  • Dental Care

  • Dermatology

  • Diagnostic Imaging

  • Dietary Advice

  • Flea and Worm Treatment

  • General Surgery

  • Insurance Advice

  • Ophthalmology

  • Preventative Medical Advice

  • Blood Pressure Measurement
  • Home Visits
  • Microchipping
  • Pet Passports
  • Vaccinations
  • Weight Clinics

Blood Pressure Measurement


Hypertension (high blood pressure) is being increasingly recognised as a problem in pets, particularly older cats, and is usually associated with underlying disease.

When the heart contracts a pulse of blood is forced through the arteries and this generates the systolic blood pressure. In between heart contractions the pressure falls - this is the diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure does not remain the same at all times. Arteries are constantly being narrowed or dilated to direct blood to whichever organs are most active at the time.

Blood pressure also tends to increase a little with age. As animals age the blood vessels become less elastic and do not dilate as easily. This has the effect of increasing blood pressure.

What causes hypertension?

In animals hypertension is usually secondary to other problems. In cats the most common link is with kidney failure but some cats with an overactive thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) may also develop hypertension.

Why does hypertension cause problems?

The increased pressure in the blood vessels damages the vessel walls, causing bleeding and blood clot formation. This can cause severe problems if the blood vessels of the eye, kidney, heart or brain are affected. There is also extra strain put on the heart muscle as it has to pump against greater resistance.

The symptoms are usually associated with the underlying cause (in kidney failure these can include weight loss, increased thirst, poor appetite and vomiting) but signs associated directly with blood vessel damage are also seen. These can include sudden onset blindness, strokes and other neurological problems.

How do we diagnose hypertension?

We can measure blood pressure with the equipment shown in the picture above. A cuff is placed around the forelimb (or tail) and the cuff is inflated. As the cuff is gradually deflated the machine can detect systolic and diastolic pressure, mean arterial pressure and the pulse rate. This is very well tolerated by both cats and dogs.

As blood pressure can increase with the stress of coming into the surgery we sometimes have to keep the cat in for a few hours to get used to the environment. Numerous measurements are taken over this time in order to get an accurate assessment.

How do we treat hypertension?

If we can identify an underlying cause then this should be treated. If the blood pressure is only mildly elevated this may be enough to bring the pressure down into the normal range. However in many cases it is necessary to use drugs to directly lower the blood pressure. As animals have different responses to these drugs we need to monitor the blood pressure to ensure we are treating it effectively.

Will my cat get better?

In cases where just treating the underlying disease is not effective in reducing blood pressure additional drugs are required and these are usually continued for the rest of the animal's life. The sudden onset blindness caused by hypertension in some cats is permanent but continued treatment for hypertension is worthwhile to prevent further damage to the brain, heart and kidneys.

Other uses of blood pressure measurement

Apart from diagnosing hypertension there are other situations where it is useful for us to be able to easily measure your pet's blood pressure. It can be useful as part of critical care for very sick or injured animals, and can be very useful in combination with fluid therapy (intravenous drips) to help us monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.

Home Visits

Home Visits

It is generally not advisable for examination of your pet to be performed in your own home. Inadequate lighting, the limited equipment we can bring and the reluctance of many pets to be examined by a stranger in their own home can all contribute to a less than adequate assessment of your pet.

However, there are situations when it is not possible for you to bring your pet to the surgery and we will try and accommodate this when possible.

We are only able to do home visits in the late morning.

Please contact the surgery giving us as much notice as possible if you think you need a home visit.



Microchipping is a very quick and simple procedure providing permanent identification of your pet.

The microchip is inserted as a simple injection and can be done during a normal appointment.

Pet Passports

Pet Passports

We are able to provide pet passports if you intend to travel abroad with your pet. The basic requirements are that your pet must first have a microchip implanted and than a vaccination against rabies. Three weeks from the rabies vaccine your pet is able to travel to, and return from, other EU countries. Prior to returning to the UK a vet must administer a treatment against tapeworms(dogs only). This must be administered 1-5 days prior to entering the UK.

For further information and advice please call the surgery or visit the Pet Travel Scheme section of the DEFRA website.



Vaccination is essential to protect your pet against some potentially fatal diseases. In addition you will not be able to put your pet into kennels or cattery if vaccinations are not up to date.

Vaccinations are extremely safe and have been very successful in reducing the incidence of terrible diseases. We protect dogs against Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Leptospirosis. Cats are vaccinated against Feline Enteritis, Feline Leukaemia Virus and Cat Flu. Rabbits are vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease (RHV 1+2)

Weight Clinics

Weight Clinics

Obesity is a serious health risk to our pets, predisposing to diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular and respiratory disorders, and so maintaining an ideal bodyweight is a very important part of our long term healthcare.

This is not always easy to achieve and so our nurses are always on hand to help you.

A nurse will have an initial consultation with you and your pet and then devise a diet and exercise plan to get your pet to its ideal weight.

This is followed up by regular weight checks and advice to help you achieve your pet's target weight.