Did your vet just prescribe your dog prednisone? What the heck is that? Or a better question: why is prednisone for dogs a thing?
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Prednisone is a synthetic steroid that can be often prescribed to treat all sorts of medical ailments. In fact, you may have also probably used prednisone if you have bad allergies, Crohn’s disease, Addison disease, or colitis!
So, why is this anti-inflammatory drug prescribed to your dog?
In this article, we’ll cover all you need to know about prednisone for your dog and how it can help your pooch!
What is Prednisone?
Whether your dog has inflammation, arthritis or endocrine disorders such as Addison’s disease, your veterinarian might have prescribed prednisone or prednisolone for your dog.
Before we explain what these drugs are and their functions. We first need a mini science lesson on our dog’s immune system!
Have you ever heard of a hormone called cortisol?
Cortisol is an essential adrenal hormone that’s produced by the adrenal gland. It’s often called the stress hormone because it serves many functions such as mediating immune responses, regulating blood pressure, blood glucose levels and anti-inflammatory actions.
Prednisone for dogs is often used in veterinary practices to treat a range of diseases that are related to inflammation and inflammatory responses.
For example, prednisone is an anti-inflammatory medication and can be used to treat shock, immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, neoplasia, asthma, inflammatory orthopedic disease and Addison’s disease.
In the United States, prednisone for dogs is sold under the name Meticorten.
On the other hand, prednisolone is sponsored by Zoetis Inc, Intervet Inc and Merial Inc. According to the Animal Drugs at FDA, all prednisone and prednisolone drugs are FDA approved for the use on our pets.
Corticosteroid – Glucocorticoid, mimics Cortisol
Prednisone is a steroid that is not naturally synthesized by the body. Its been created to replicate the function of cortisol.
Prednisone and Prednisolone for Dogs: What’s the Difference?
Both prednisone and prednisolone are corticosteroids.
This means that both drugs are used to treat autoimmune diseases, regulate the immune system and inflammatory response of the body.
Prednisone Converted Into Prednisolone in Liver
While both these drugs essentially are the same, there is a key difference in regards to how they are metabolized.
For example, prednisone for dogs once administered is naturally metabolized by the animal’s liver forming prednisolone.
Dog’s with a poor liver function would be given Prednisolone instead
So, what does this mean for your dog?
Well, if your dog has any form of liver dysfunction or if your dogs’ liver enzymes are high – ALT, ALK(P), AST or GGTs then your veterinarian will prescribe prednisolone instead of prednisone.
This is because by administering the active compound prednisolone, the drug essentially by-passes the liver and can be efficiently absorbed by the body.
What is Prednisone Used for in Dogs? Diseases, Pain, and More
Both prednisolone and prednisone for dogs can be used to treat a variety of autoimmune disease and inflammatory conditions. Here we have listed just a few possible uses prednisolone and prednisone can have for your pooch!
- Orthopedic diseases that result in inflammation, i.e. arthritis
- Joint pain caused arthritis
- Skin diseases such as eczema, dermatitis or itchy skin
- Allergic reaction
- Anaphylactic shock
- Addison’s disease
- Disorders of the central nervous system
- Prednisolone is used to treat liver conditions
- Cancers such as lymphomas
Prednisone for dogs is most commonly used to treat a rare disease known as the Addisonian crisis (Addison’s disease). Addison’s disease is a disease of the adrenal cortex where the adrenal cortex ceases to produce sufficient amounts of adrenocorticotropic hormone.
Dogs with the Addisonian crisis may often show symptoms such as low blood volume, frequent vomiting, and frequent diarrhea. The goal of treating this immune-mediated disease is to control and decrease the severity of the disease.
This is why your veterinarian will suggest fluid therapy along with an adjusted dose of prednisone in order to replace the lack of cortisol secretion.
Steroids?! Can I Give Prednisone to my Dog?
Prednisone for dogs is an important steroid drug that’s used to treat all sorts of conditions. Both prednisone and prednisolone are FDA approved and are thus considered safe for your pet.
Important things to discuss with your vet before giving your dog Prednisone
Whether or not you’re a little skeptical about giving your doggie prednisone. It’s important to remember that these drugs are administered for the sole purpose of helping your dog.
Regardless, some owners may have had bad experiences with drugs before. This is why we recommend you talk to your vet if you have any concerns.
It’s important to discuss the following with your vet:
What are the possible side effects of prednisone and what should you expect a severe reaction to look like?
Let your veterinarian know if your dog has taken any other medication or natural supplement for their condition or any unrelated medical condition. This is because other drugs can potentially affect the mode of action of prednisone.
Currently, prednisone has been known to interact with NSAIDs, diuretics, and salicylates.
If your dog has had or does have stomach ulcers, kidney problems, diabetes, thyroid dysfunctions or hypersensitivity to prednisone then speak to your vet.
Prednisone is generally quite safe for dogs. However, it is not recommended for the dogs in the following situations:
- Any female dog that is lactating or pregnant
- Any dog that may be breeding
- Dogs under the age of 6 months should not be given prednisone
- Sometimes dogs with cancer, diabetes, heart problems or mites may not make good candidates for prednisone
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Prednisone Dosage for Dogs
Estimated dosage of Prednisone for dogs is 2.5 mg per 10 lb.
|5 to 20 lbs||1.25 to 5 mg|
|20 to 40 lbs||5 to 10 mg|
|40 to 80 lbs||10 to 20 mg|
|80 to 160 lbs||20 to 40 mg|
Tablet, oral liquid, injection
Prednisone for dogs can come in various forms including oral, chewable tablets, capsules and liquid suspension.
Unfortunately, the liquid and injectable dosage rates may be subjective. Dosage rates for any form may depend on your dogs’ disease, age, weight class and other factors.
It’s important to speak to your veterinarian if you aren’t sure about the dosage rate.
Short-Term vs Long-Term
In general, if your dog is taking the prednisone for 1 to 4 weeks then he may not experience many side effects.
Side effects tend to become more common in dogs who are on prednisone for a long time. The dosage for both long terms and short-term usage is variable as this will depend on your dogs’ individual case.
Prednisone for Dogs: Side Effects
Why Prednisone should not be given for prolonged periods of time
Since prednisone is a corticosteroid it can interfere with the normal functioning of the immune system and adrenal glands.
One study showed that when you give your dog prednisone for a long period, your dog’s adrenal gland will become suppressed.
This means that your dog’s adrenal glands may stop producing other vital hormones such as aldosterone, androsterone, cortisone, and dehydroepiandrosterone.
Prednisone for dogs has been linked to an increased risk of Cushing’s disease in dogs.
Cushing’s disease occurs as a result of excess production of cortisol from the adrenal cortex. Often Cushing’s disease is considered a near incurable disease and as such the method of treatment often involves controlling the production and use of corticosteroids.
As such, your veterinarian may control the dose of prednisone for your dog.
Short-term and long-term side effects
In many cases, it is very rare for dogs to react badly to prednisone is given for a short term. However, some short-term side effects can include:
- Increased thirst or hunger
Dog’s who have been on prednisone for over a long period of time may experience more adverse, long-term side effects. This can include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Hair loss
- Increased hunger which can lead to increased eating
- Increased risk of developing calcinosis cutis
- Increased risk of developing demodectic mange
- Muscle Weakness
- Hair loss
- Increased risk of canine diabetes
- Increased risk of fungal & bacterial infection
- Distended stomach
Effect On Vaccines
Even vaccines can cause side effects. This is normal as no drug is perfect! Prednisone for dogs vaccines are often injected subcutaneously, intravenously or intramuscular.
Typical side effects of a vaccine may include:
- Swelling around the site on injection
- Tenderness around site of injection
- Facial Swelling
- Side effects may coincide with those discussed above
Know the Dangers of a Prednisone Overdose
Prednisone is a non-toxic corticosteroid that needs to be closely monitored. However, as with any drugs owners should be cautious that overdosing their dog with prednisone can be detrimental to their health.
Symptoms of Overdose
In general, the symptoms of prednisone overdose in dogs can include:
- Increased and heavy panting
- Increased thirst
- Increase in blood pressure and possibly heart rate
What to do if your dog has overdosed – Take them to the Vet immediately!
If you believe you may have accidentally overdosed your dog then you need to take your dog to the nearest emergency veterinarian as soon as possible.
Because prednisone is a prescribed drug there isn’t much you can do if your dog does indeed overdose.
Sometimes, if you do call your vet they may suggest that you induce vomiting by giving your dog a few teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide. It’s important to remember that you should not induce vomiting for your dog without veterinary advice.
The Importance of Slowly Weaning Your Dog Off Prednisone
Prednisone is often given to dogs in large amounts as an initial dose. Then gradually your veterinarian will reduce the amount of prednisone for your dog.
Prednisone for dogs is a strong steroid hormone that can interfere with the normal synthesis of other hormones produced by the adrenal gland. So, over time your dog’s adrenal glands will produce low levels of natural hormones such as cortisol, aldosterone etc.
If you were to abruptly stop prednisone them you’d be shocking your dog’s adrenal glands this can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms.
Treatment with Prednisone = Happy Pup, Happy Parent
Prednisone for dogs can be used to treat a wide range of medical conditions such as lymphomas, allergies, and inflammation.
Prednisone could put the wag back in your doggo’s tail!
Prednisone can be an important drug for your pet. Though there are many conflicting opinions on administering steroidal drugs to our pets, it’s important to remember that your veterinarian will only prescribe prednisone if they feel it will improve your dogs quality of life.