Prednisone Treatment for Lymphoma in Dogs

Lymphoma in dogs is a type of cancer that affects the lymphocytes. The treatment of lymphoma is most commonly made up of medication treatment, since surgery and radiation therapy are not efficient. Chemo drugs and prednisone are often prescribed to dogs with lymphoma and may add a few months to the dog’s life.

Dog Lymphoma Treatment Options

Since lymphoma is a systemic disease affecting the lymphocytes, the typical first choice treatment—surgery—is not a practical option. If performed, surgery will not change the condition of the pet and the cancerous cells will still be present in the dog’s system. Consequently, the dog will only have the option of getting medication. Chemotherapy is most commonly prescribed in dogs with lymphoma; however, the dog may also receive cyclophosphamides, prednisone or other corticosteroids.

Prednisone for Canine Lymphoma

Prednisone, also known as Prednisolone, is an inexpensive treatment that is recommended in dogs with lymphoma. Most commonly, vets will prescribe this drug as an alternative to chemotherapy. If the cost of chemo is too high, you can opt for other drugs such as prednisone. Prednisone is also recommended in dogs that don’t tolerate chemotherapy.

Prednisone is a corticosteroid drug that will repress the immune system and may also interfere with the development of the cancerous cells. The drug may also diminish some of the symptoms experienced by a dog with lymphoma:

  • Reduces pain
  • Reduces swelling

The dose will be established per pound of body weight and may be changed according to the dog’s reaction to the treatment. Not all dogs respond well to the prednisone treatment and some may experience severe side effects. The vet may experiment with the drugs administered to the pet and look for the best solution to add quality and a few months to the dog’s life. Prednisone shouldn’t be administered prior to starting a chemotherapy treatment, as the drugs may make the therapy less effective.

Prednisone Side Effects in Dogs

Prednisone may have a series of side effects that may include:

  • Weight gain and water retention
  • Increased appetite
  • Irritability
  • Secondary diseases, as the dog’s immune system is suppressed
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Diabetes and changes in the metabolism of glucose
  • Cushing’s disease, especially if the treatment is discontinued abruptly
  • Kidney and liver damage

In some cases, the side effects are very serious and the vet will discontinue the prednisone treatment. Prednisone should be discontinued gradually, to prevent adrenal insufficiency.

Prognosis for Dogs with Lymphoma

The prognosis of a dog with lymphoma will depend on a few factors such as:

  • The stage when the disease was detected
  • The type of treatment the dog receives (if the dog receives chemo he may live longer)
  • The dog’s response to the treatment

Dogs with lymphoma will survive between 4 weeks (when the cancer is in metastasis) to 1 year (if the dog receives chemotherapy and the cancer is detected during the first 2 stages).