Dog Lymphoma Management with Prednisone

Dog lymphoma is a cancer that may affect any area of the dog's body, and the disease has a rapid development. In some cases, the dog will have to undergo surgery, but sometimes surgery is not an option. Lymphoma may be managed with chemotherapy, radiation therapy and in some cases with prednisone. Prednisone is prescribed if the dog doesn't respond well to chemo or if the owner can't afford the costs of chemo. Prednisone cannot cure dog lymphoma and won't help the dog live a longer life with cancer, but it will improve the dog's life quality.

Prednisone for Dog Lymphoma

Prednisone is a synthetic drug from the class of corticosteroids and may be used as:

  • Immune system suppressor
  • Anti-inflammatory drug
  • Analgesic drug

The medication can be used in dogs with lymphoma, provided the dog is not responding to chemotherapy or when surgery is no longer an option. Prednisone is also recommended when the owner cannot cover for the chemotherapy drugs, as these may be highly expensive. Ideally, prednisone shouldn't be combined with chemotherapy, as the chemo will be less effective.

Prednisone will relieve pain, reduce swelling and reduce the discomfort that may be present especially when the cancer is in metastasis. Prednisone will not prolong the dog's life. Dogs with lymphoma that get only prednisone medication can live between two and 12 weeks, depending on how widespread the cancerous cells are.

Common Side Effects

Prednisone is a medication that should be used with great caution, due to the major side effects that it may have. However, in dogs with lymphoma, the treatment is not for a long term, so the side effects may not even occur. Common side effects of prednisone include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Fluid retention and bloated stomach
  • Swelling of face
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Behavior changes
  • Gastric ulcer
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage

The injectible prednisone is less likely to cause gastrointestinal distress and ulcers. Should the side effects be serious, the vet will switch to different medications. In rare cases, the dog may be allergic to prednisone, so the medication should be discontinued. Corticosteroids are not prescribed to dogs with stomach ulcers.

Prednisone Dosage and Discontinuing Prednisone

The dosage of prednisone should be dictated by the vet, depending on the weight, size and the condition of the pet. You should never change the dosage without consulting the vet. When prednisone is discontinued, this can only be done by cutting down on the dosage on a gradual basis. If the prednisone administration is abruptly interrupted, the dog may suffer from adrenal insufficiency.

Prednisone and Other Diseases

There are a few diseases that require immune system suppression and may be managed with prednisone. These conditions include:

  • Inhalant allergies
  • Skin dermatitis
  • Joint, muscle and tendon pain
  • Autoimmune diseases such as discoid lupus or AHA (autohemolytic anemia)