Prednisone side effects in Dogs

Prednisone is a synthetic steroid or corticosteroid used for treatment of certain ailments in animals and humans. The drug may be administered by vets to dogs if varied tests reveal the presence of autoimmune conditions or inflammatory disorders. Prednisone is typically prescribe for treatment of infections in dogs by allergens or dogs.

Some of the conditions for which prednisone may be prescribed include allergies, SLE, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, spinal cord injuries, asthma and other respiratory diseases, hives and other skin irritations, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, endocrine diseases, Addison’s disease, leukemia, tumors, Crohn’s disease, discoid lupus, and anaphylactic shock.

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Prednisone may be a strong and very effective corticosteroid, but when used excessively, it can result in some mild to severe side effects in dogs. Improper use of the medication can also increase the risk to severe health problems.

Prednisone side effects in dogs

Some of the side effects of prednisone in dogs are listed below:

  • Gastrointestinal abnormalities: Prednisone is quite useful in alleviation of the symptoms of some serious illnesses. But it can also cause varied gastrointestinal disorders like vomiting, diarrhea, generalized discomfort in the abdomen, and peptic ulcers.
  • Increased hunger and thirst: The dog may feel very thirst after the drug is administered. It can also increase the appetite of the pet, thereby leading to excessive weight gain and frequent urination.
  • Canine diabetes: When prednisone is used for prolonged periods, it can pose risks of metabolic alterations as well as increased vulnerability of the onset of diabetes. Canine diabetes is defined as the inability of the body of dogs to absorb insulin or lowered production of insulin by the body, thereby resulting in increased levels of blood sugar.
  • Muscle fatigue and wasting: Another prednisone side effect in dogs is abnormal fatigue and weakness. Pet owners need to consult a vet if the dog begins experiencing exhaustion or lethargy after using the drug.
  • Ocular conditions: Administration of prednisone can also cause varied eye problems in like glaucoma, poor eyesight, and cataracts. Hence, regularly go for checkups and verify the eye condition in dogs who are given the drug.
  • Inflammation: Long-term use of prednisone can also cause side effects like inflammation and pain in the joints which can lead to walking difficulties in the dog. As the medication suppresses the immune system, its use poses increased threat to development of recurrent infections.
  • Coat and skin problems: Thinning of the skin and loss of hair may also occur as a side effect of prednisone use in dogs. It is possible for the coat of the dog to lose its shine. Skin infections that are problematic to treat and heal may also be common.
  • Behavioral changes: Long term use of prednisone in dogs can also cause side effects like unexpected and sudden changes in his/her behavior. Dogs may exhibit symptoms like aggression, anxiety, and/or increased restlessness. Hence, keep a lookout for any changes in the behavior of your dog who is on prednisone.
  • Canine Cushing’s disease: It is one of the most severe prednisone side effects in dogs. It occurs due to increased secretion of cortisone hormone which in turn is caused due to a hormonal imbalance. Affected dogs may suffer from symptoms like increased thirst, hunger, urination, impairment of immune system, and weight loss or weight gain.

Prednisone side effects in dogs: Withdrawal symptoms

The natural ability of the body to make corticosteroids can be adversely affected with long-term use of prednisone. This can increase the risk to dependence on the drug. Sudden ceasing of treatment can thus lead to withdrawal symptoms and adverse effects on the health of the dog.

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The intake of prednisone is known to reduce production of the natural steroid cortisol by the adrenal gland. When use of the drug is stopped suddenly, it can trigger cortisol deficiency ion the pet’s body. This can result in a variety of withdrawal symptoms such as weakness, malaise, vomiting, fatigue, appetite loss, behavioral changes, and breathing problems, etc.The occurrence of these abnormal symptoms need to be immediately checked by a vet.

It is important to decrease the dose of prednisoneslowly and gradually, under the guidance of a vet, so as to prevent the occurrence of prednisone withdrawal symptoms.

Prednisone dosage

  • The dosage and administration of prednisone has to be prescribed only by a certified vet.
  • The drug can be administered intravenously, orally, intra-articularly, or cutaneously.The dosage is suggested as per the underlying disease. For example, a low daily dose may be recommended for its use as an anti-inflammatory or analgesic, while vets may prescribe higher doses for long-term in case it is used to suppress the immune system.
  • Prednisone cannot be prescribed for dogs with ulcers or systemic fungal infections; for lactating or pregnant dogs; and for puppies younger than 6 months of age.

Even though prednisone is very efficient and potent drug, its prolonged use can lead to serious side effects, with the most serious being immune system suppression and increased vulnerability to varied infections and diseases. Hence, it is best to go for alternative treatment options if available. Prednisone use however cannot be avoided in case of serious ailments like SLE; in such instances, it is important to take steps to prevent the onset of secondary infections as well as control the side effects.

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