Corticosteroid Cream for Dogs

Corticosteroid cream has a number of uses for treatment of various medical conditions in dogs. It is used for anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic purposes. Steroids mimic the function of the adrenal glands, which regulate the body's metabolism. Though steroids do not cure any condition, they do suppress the body's reaction to that condition.

Corticosteroid Treatment

Corticosteroid creams can be used for alleviating the inflammation and pain resulting from allergic reactions, such as itching. Corticosteroids can treat asthma and other allergies, kidney disorders and spinal cord injuries.

Side Effects

Corticosteroids occur naturally in the bodies of both dogs and cats. Produced by the adrenal glands, corticosteroids have an effect on most body systems. Therefore, their use synthetically tends to produce a number of side effects. Some of these side effects are:

  • Increased appetite and thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss
  • Thinning of the hair coat
  • Dullness of the hair coat
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Increased susceptibility to skin infections
  • Panting
  • Generalized immune suppression at higher doses or higher frequency of administration
  • Increased incidence of pancreatitis
  • Susceptibility to diabetes
  • Difficulty in controlling insulin dosages in diabetic dogs
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea (occasionally bloody)
  • Development of Cushing's syndrome (could be fatal)
  • Development of Addison's disease (could be fatal)

Health Risks

Steroids suppress a dog's immune system, effectively shutting the immune system off. This improves the symptoms quickly; however, it does not address the root of the problem or the reason why the immune system is overreacting to begin with. Sometimes steroids are administered to quell the symptoms, providing relief for both the inflammation and pain.

Steroids can negatively impact the dog's liver, kidneys and adrenal glands. If used for a prolonged period of time, steroids can suppress the function of the adrenal glands enough to prevent them from functioning at all. This creates a dependency upon the drug, since the body is unable to naturally produce its own corticosteroids. Steroids can also allow yeast and bacteria to take hold and grow, necessitating the use of antibiotics. Other steroid health risks include:

  • Over-activity of adrenal glands, resulting in Cushing's disease
  • Water retention
  • Insomnia
  • Menstrual problems
  • Loss of libido
  • Diabetes
  • Muscle wasting
  • Bruising
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Serious mood changes
  • Impotence
  • Allergic shock
  • Cataracts
  • Hip fractures
  • Jaundice
  • Liver damage
  • Renal failure
  • Digestive tract ulcers
  • Unpredictable changes in behavior
  • Pain and inflammation of the pancreas


The administration of corticosteroid creams depends upon the severity of the condition. For mild inflammations, the frequency can vary from once daily to once weekly. For severe conditions, application can be as frequent as two to three times daily. As the condition improves, the frequency may decrease. As with any medication, it is important to monitor for any and all adverse symptoms and seek immediate medical attention for any extreme reactions.