Virtually all dogs with hypertension have it only secondary to some other underlying disorder or disease. Treatment of secondary hypertension will be based upon the attending veterinarian’s overall assessment of the nature and severity of that underlying condition in a particular animal. Various diagnostic tools and techniques, and resulting blood pressure measurements, can be evaluated by the veterinarian to assess the likelihood or risk of damage to particular target organs (target organ damage, or TOD) due to elevated blood pressure. When a dog’s blood pressure is extremely elevated, it may need to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, this can cause additional stress to the animal, which in turn may cause its blood pressure levels to rise even further. Ultimately, treatment of hypertension must be based upon identifying the abnormal condition that is causing the hypertension, and then treating that condition directly.
Dietary modification, exercise restriction, oral or injectable medications and possibly surgery may be necessary or appropriate treatment options, depending upon the underlying cause of the hypertension. Sometimes, the underlying condition may be controllable – such as in some cases of hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disase). It may even be curable – as with hyperthyroid management. Unfortunately, uncontrolled or uncontrollable hypertension from whatever cause can ultimately damage target organ(s), such as the heart, liver, kidneys, eyes, neurological tissues or lungs, among others.
The prognosis for hypertensive dogs depends almost entirely upon the underlying cause of their condition, the promptness and successfulness of veterinary care and the ability and willingness of the owners to take the steps necessary to comply with the suggested treatment plans. Many dogs can have the high-blood pressure component of their disease controlled with appropriate medical drug therapy. However, medical treatment may not be enough to improve the affected dog’s quality of life, life expectancy or survival time.