Dexamethazone Side Effects in Dogs

Dexamethazone is a drug prescribed to dogs as an anti-inflammatory and an immunosuppressant. The uses of the drug are wide, as it can treat conditions such as respiratory disease, skin disorders, cancers, hemolytic anemia and a number of other conditions your dog may have. As with most prescribed medications, dexamethazone may have some possible side effects.

How Does Dexamethazone Work?

Dexamethazone is a steroid drug that prevents inflammation by hindering the production of substances that cause it. It is used to treat many different diseases and conditions in dogs, and is administered in tablet form. It should only be given if prescribed by a veterinarian, and pet owners should closely follow the vet's instructions while administering dexamethazone to their pets.

Possible Side Effects of Dexamethazone

Dexamethazone is a very safe and effective drug when prescribed by a veterinarian, but it may cause side effects in certain dogs.

  • Dexamethazone should never be given to a dog with an allergy or sensitivity to the drug.
  • Dexamethazone may interact with other drugs, so it is important to discuss what medications your dog is taking with the veterinarian before administering it. Drugs that may interact with dexamethazone include insulin, vaccines, anti-inflammatory drugs, furosemide and phenobarbital.
  • Common side effects of dexamethazone may include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, panting, heavy breathing, excessive thirst or increase in appetite.
  • Dexamethazone may cause liver enzymes to elevate mildly. Usually the elevations are not enough to cause any serious damage, but in rare cases, may cause liver injury.
  • Dexamethazone should not be used for yeast, fungi or infectious diseases in your pet.
  • Dexamethazone may induce labor in pregnant dogs, so it should not be given to a dog that is pregnant.
  • Stomach ulcers and intestinal problems may result from dexamethazone use.
  • Using dexamethazone for a long period of time may cause hair loss, liver damage, muscle weakness, behavior or personality changes, and loss of energy.
  • When stopping the use of dexamethazone, the animal should be slowly weaned off the medication. After using dexamethazone for a long period of time, complications can arise if the treatment is stopped suddenly. 

What to Do in the Event of an Overdose

If your pet is given a large dose of dexamethazone during a short period of time, it may cause an overdose. An overdose can cause harmful effects and adrenal suppression. Problems that may arise from an overdose of dexamethazone are iatrogenic Cushing's Disease, metabolic problems and adrenal impairment. If you know your pet has overdosed on dexamethazone, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible to prevent further damage.