Prednisolone for Dogs

Prednisolone for dogs can be prescribed for a wide range of conditions including allergies, autoimmune diseases and cancer. Prednisolone has similar effects as prednisone, which is a cortisone medication that suppresses the immune system’s activity, thus eliminating the swelling caused by the inflammatory cells produced by the immune system. The drug is not the first choice for long term administration, as there are many side effects associated with the long term administration of prednisolone.

When Is Prednisolone Used

Prednisolone can be used as a steroid medication in dogs that experience severe swelling (i.e. from an allergic reaction) or have a hyperactive immune system. The drug may be administered in dogs with:

  • Severe allergies, which are caused by an immune response to diverse irritants
  • Asthma, which will manifest through swelling of the air ways, disabling the dog from breathing
  • Autoimmune conditions such as the autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), systemic or discoid lupus; these conditions occur when the immune system starts attacking its own cells; prednisolone will inhibit the activity of the immune system
  • Arthritis, which manifests through joint swelling; the drug will eliminate the inflammation
  • Severe skin conditions that are considered idiopathic
  • Diseases of the endocrine system
  • Cancers in the last stages that have no other means of treatment

Even if Prednisolone is only approved for use in humans; it may also be prescribed by vets to dogs with the above mentioned conditions.

Side Effects of Prednisolone

Prednisolone is known for its side effects that shouldn’t be ignored. For this reason, cortisone is never the first choice treatment in dogs; the vet will try administering other types of treatment first.

The side effects of prednisolone may include:

  • A weaker immune response, so the dog is more prone to various seasonal infections
  • An increase in appetite, resulting in weight gain
  • A hormonal imbalance, which can result in acne on the face or oily skin
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Hypertension
  • Gastric ulcer

The side effects may not occur in all cases and will be more frequent if the dog receives the treatment for an extended period of time (i.e. for over 4 weeks).

The cortisone treatment may also interact with a treatment with non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs.

When Is Prednisolone Contraindicated

Due to the possible effects of the treatment, Prednisolone shouldn’t be administered in dogs that are affected by the following conditions:

  • Advanced liver damage or even liver failure
  • Kidney problems
  • Gastric ulcer

The drug is also contraindicated in dogs that are allergic to any of the ingredients in Prednisolone.

Tapering Off Prednisolone

The prednisolone should be gradually tapered off in dogs, so as to avoid severe side effects such as Cushing’s disease or an adrenal insufficiency.

Consequently, when the dog’s condition improves, the Prednisolone shouldn’t be discontinued immediately; the dog should still receive a decreased dose that will be lowered each week until it is safe to stop the treatment completely.