Dog Arthritis Treatment With Prednisone

Finding an arthritis dog treatment that will help alleviate the suffering of canine arthritis can be a daunting task. Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints. The best canine arthritis treatment will not only relieve the pain and decrease inflammation, but will also regenerate cartilage. Only a veterinarian should determine the proper medication and dosages.


Arthritis can hit any breed, gender or size of dog, although older dogs are more likely to get it than young ones.

Some of the symptoms are:

  • Limping
  • Difficulty getting up, lying down, sitting, squatting, standing, jumping or climbing
  • Joint tenderness
  • Reluctance to play, walk or move up and down stairs
  • Inflammation, stiffness, heat, swelling and/or pain in and around joints
  • Slow movement
  • Change in gait or pace

Treatment With NSAIDs

Medicines containing glucosamine and chondroitin are first used in treating arthritis in dogs, since they're both produced by the body and are extremely important in the formation and maintaining of the cartilage, ligaments, nails and tendons. These medications are supplemented with NSAIDs, including aspirin, to reduce inflammation, with proper monitoring for any adverse reactions.

Treatment With Corticosteroids

When NSAIDs are not working, a veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids, such as prednisone or dexamethasone. They can dramatically reduce pain, reduce joint inflammation, slow bone density loss and improve damaged cartilage. However, they do have some serious risks, particularly if they are used for a long period of time.

Some of those risks are:

  • Increased risk of pancreatitis
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Immune system suppression, leading to other sicknesses
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Panting
  • Skin damage
  • Hair loss
  • Diabetes
  • Increased thirst, urination and appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Seizures
  • Irritability
  • Muscle loss


Prednisone, like other corticosteroids, interferes with the production of the mucous layer that the stomach produces to protect itself against its own acids, and inhibits the production of mucin cells. This eventually leads to the thinning of this protective layer, which leads to a greater risk of gastric ulcers. Long-term use also increases the absorption of fat and decreases the absorption of minerals (especially calcium and iron). However, prednisone does decrease inflammation. Protection from gastric ulcers can be found by using famotidine (Pepcid AC tm), cimetidine (Tagamet tm) or other gastrointestinal protectant medications. Very long term usage of prednisone can lead to kidney damage.

Use of prednisone or any other corticosteroids can affect the production of natural corticosteroids in the body. The body is unable to distinguish between the naturally produced corticosertoids and the doses given. If there is a sufficient quantity of cortisone in the body, the endocrine system suppresses cortisone production by the adrenal glands. The gland may not be able to produce cortisone once the corticosteroids are withdrawn. Other major organs can shut down with the misuse of steroids.

Allergies to the drug can also affect the central nervous system, including behavioral changes. Retinal damage and "floaters" can create a "fly biting" behavior in dogs, which is due to the dog seeing motion or light flashes that are not actually present.

Some veterinarians prescribe the drug to be administered every other day to reduce possible adverse side effects. It is important to monitor all reactions and follow dosages given by your vet, so that the pain can be decreased and the progression of the disease slowed.