Relieving Allergy Symptoms with Steroids for Dogs

Veterinarians sometimes prescribe the short-term use of steroids for dogs with allergies resulting in severe itching and inflammation. Due to their potentially serious risks, they are often prescribed as a last resort when all else has failed. With carefully regulated dosage, steroids can be used safely and effectively for allergies in dogs.

Steroids are often used to treat flea allergies where flea control may not be entirely possible.


Cortisone is the most common dog steroid used to quickly suppress severe allergies. It is a naturally occurring hormone that fights pain, inflammation and chronic itching. It also helps correct immune system irregularities and disorders of the eyes and ears. There are several types of steroids very similar to cortisone that help with similar processes. It should be noted that these steroids are unlike anabolic steroids, in that they do not promote body and muscle growth.


It is important to note that steroids are not a cure-all remedy, and long-term abuse can lead to serious problems for your pet. Overuse is one of the most common paths to steroid abuse, when owners assume they will be effective undiagnosed and unidentified ailments. Steroids are potent and very low doses are often adequate to handle most problems.

When steroids are used or misused for a long period of time, there may be a risk of permanent or severe damage to the liver, adrenal gland and pancreas. Diabetes has been commonly reported in dogs that were overdosed on steroids. Steroids also affect a dog's coat, causing it to lose its luster, strength and nutrients.

Side Effects

While dogs are more resistant to the side effects of steroids than humans, each dog will react differently to their use. Steroids work closely with the skin, immune and endocrine systems, which can result in a wide variety of side effects. As a result, it is critical to carefully watch your pet for any unusual symptoms or behaviors that may develop while medicating with steroids. Side effects can appear suddenly, and many times mild cases will disappear when medication has been stopped. The most common symptoms include:

* Increased water consumption * Increased appetite * Increased urination * Weight Gain * Hyperactivity * Panting * Diarrhea * Depression

Short-term use of steroids very rarely leads to permanent harmful effects; however, your dog should still be monitored carefully for potential problems that may arise.

Ethics and Steroids

Some dog owners find it unethical to use steroids on their pet and refuse their use under all circumstances. Many veterinarians, however, stress that such a decision is unwise as steroids can bring relief to excruciating discomfort brought on by allergies. In certain serious cases, there may be no other medication that will be effective against an allergy.

Steroids are a powerful remedy that, when used with care and extreme caution, can bring rapid relief to severe itching and inflammation to dogs suffering from allergies.