Prednisone for Dogs

Prednisone is a steroid that may be successful in managing a number of canine health issues. Prednisone is an anti inflammatory medication that also inhibits the immune system. This medication is not suitable for a long term administration, due to the side effects and it is also not recommended for dogs with different conditions.

Uses of Prednisone for Dogs

Prednisone is an artificial corticosteroid that is commonly used when steroids are needed in dogs. Prednisone is an immune system suppressive drug that can also reduce swelling and pain. The conditions that require the use of prednisone may include:

  • Allergies, by inhibiting the immune system and reducing swelling and irritation
  • Asthma, by reducing the inflammation that limits the capacity of the air passages
  • Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), suppressing the immune activity
  • Lupus, both discoid and systemic (SLE), autoimmune diseases that can be controlled by prednisone, which will inhibit the immune system and will also reduce the swelling of joints and other organs, which are common symptoms of lupus
  • Arthritis, by reducing swelling
  • Skin irritations
  • Endocrine diseases which require supplementation of corticosteroids in the dog’s body

Prednisone is a medication that is FDA approved for use in humans, but may also be used in veterinary medicine. Prednisone, also marketed as prednisolone is only available through prescription and should only be administered if prescribed by the vet.

Side Effects

Being a corticosteroid, prednisone may cause serious side effects if given for longer periods of time:

  • Secondary infections, which the dog is more susceptible to due to the suppressed immune system
  • Increased thirst and appetite
  • Fluid retention
  • Hormonal irregularities, leading to acne, oily skin or dry, flaky skin
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

If administered for less than 1 month, prednisone may not have any serious side effects, causing only nausea until the dog’s system gets used to the steroids. Dogs experience fewer side effects than humans getting prednisone.

Prednisone Contraindications

Prednisone may be contraindicated for dogs with:

Pregnant dogs or dogs that take non steroidal anti inflammatory medication or antihistamines should also avoid prednisone.

Prednisone Administration

Prednisone is available in injectible form, tablets or topical creams. The vet will decide which type of administration is most suitable, depending on the condition of the dog.

The dosage will be higher if the dog has an endocrine problem, lupus or anemia.

Reduced amounts of prednisone are sufficient to manage pain or swelling.

Note that prednisone shouldn’t be abruptly discontinued as it can cause adrenal insufficiency.

During the prednisone treatment, the dog should be closely monitored for any side effects or secondary diseases. The immune system will be suppressed, so the dog can contract different diseases, which should be detected and treated immediately.