Prednisone for Cats with Asthma

Learn about the use of prednisone for cats with asthma. Discover the possible side effects, contraindications and dangers of long-term use.

Asthma is a terrifying ailment pet owners face. It's normal to want to treat your cats breathing difficulties as quickly as possible. However, prednisone, while extremely effective, does pose serious health risks if not used with extreme care.

Prednisone for Cats

Prednisone is a topical or injectable synthetic corticosteroid used commonly as an anti-inflammatory medication. It's used in everything from allergic reactions, like anaphylactic shock or asthma, to inflammatory conditions, such as IBS.

The medication works in the animal's liver. The liver converts the medication to prednisolone, a steroid that prevents the release of substances within the body that cause inflammation.

How Prednisone Helps Cats with Asthma

Because prednisone stops the production of substances that cause inflammation, it's effective on asthma. With asthma, the lining of the airways swell making it extremely difficult to breathe. Because the corticosteroids keep that inflammation from occurring, the chances of the asthma flaring up are reduced. Cats with asthma usually require larger doses for the medication to work properly.

The problem is that prednisone for cats is not meant for long-term use. In fact, long-term use of corticosteroids can cause other health issues. It's important to talk to your veterinarian about alternative medications for long-term treatment of asthma.

Prednisone for Cats Side Effects

Cats are less susceptible than dogs when it comes to side effects. However, there are still side effects that some cats experience. They include:

  • Behavioral changes

  • Blood pressure increase

  • Excessive hunger

  • Excessive thirst

  • Frequent urination

  • Gastric ulcers

  • Muscle weakness

  • Weight gain

Prednisone for Cats Contraindications

Prednisone should not be used if a cat has a fungal infection. The medication alters the body's ability to fight these infections.

Do not get your cat's vaccines, particularly live vaccines, updated while the cat is on prednisone. The medication alters the effectiveness of the injection.

Diabetic cats should not be given prednisone except in extreme cases. Prednisone elevates blood sugar levels in the bloodstream. If you must use the medication, make sure you closely monitor your pet's glucose levels throughout the day.

Because the medication alters salt retention in the kidneys, it can cause elevated sodium levels in the blood. It's also not advised for cats with heart disease.

Pregnant cats should not use corticosteroids. The medication have been known to cause spontaneous abortions in pregnant cats.

Keep in mind that the use of prednisone suppresses immune response. Cats taking this corticosteroid are more likely to pick up infections. Keep your cat away from other animals, especially those that may be sick or unvaccinated against certain illnesses.

Dangers of Long-term Use of Prednisone

Prednisone should not be used long-term. Excessive weight gain is one of the dangers. With the excessive weight gain, diabetes and heart disease become major risks. Other problems with long-term corticosteroid use involve hair loss, muscle loss and liver problems.

When used for a long time, prednisone can suppress normal adrenal gland function. It's important to keep your pet on prednisolone for as little time as possible.

When it's time to stop using prednisone, you should not stop the medication all at once. The dose needs to be gradually reduced over time. Failure to do so can cause a metabolic crisis.