Side Effects of Dexamethasone for Dogs

Dexamethasone for dogs is a highly powerful drug used for inflammation and joint stiffness associated with arthritis, as well as other heath conditions. Dexamethasone is a synthetic corticosteroid that is nearly 30 times as strong as cortisol in the body and the adrenal glands. In addition to treating the symptoms of arthritis, Dexamethasone is also an immunosuppressant. 

Advantages of Dexamethasone for Dogs

Using Dexamethasone can improve your pet's health and overall behavior considerably. Your pet may benefit from the use of Dexamethasone if he is suffering from any of the following conditions:

  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Joint pain
  • Addison's Disease
  • Neurological conditions
  • Shock
  • Injury to the spinal cord
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Inflammations
  • Cancer
  • Colitis 
  • Adrenal gland disorders
  • Skin irritations
  • Respiratory problems
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Liver disorders

Dexamethasone contains glucocorticoid, which aids in many of the body's natural functions. This drug helps proteins, carbohydrates and fats in the body metabolize, and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Dexamethasone can also alleviate symptoms such as swelling, irritation, redness, burning, and itchiness. Dexamethasone can be given in several different forms, including injections, tablets, inhalants, and creams. 

Possible Side Effects of Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone can cause side effects in certain animals. The following is a list of the possible side effects your pet may experience while taking Dexamethasone as a treatment:

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Polyuria
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Lethargy
  • Cushing's Disease
  • Swelling of the brain
  • Weakness
  • Polydipsia
  • Adrenal insufficiency
  • Depression
  • Lack of energy

Vomiting, nausea or diarrhea can be a sign of an overdose, which is a serious emergency. If you suspect your pet has overdosed on Dexamethasone, seek emergency veterinary care as soon as possible. Severe overdoses can cause serious complications or death, so it is important to follow dosage instructions carefully and handle the medication with care. 


Dexamethasone is not intended to be used with all types of illnesses or conditions. Dogs suffering from viral, bacterial or fungal infections should not take Dexamethasone. The drug should never be given to animals with an allergic reaction to the medication, or dogs that are pregnant or lactating. Dexamethasone cannot be mixed with other NSAIDs such as aspirin. Other conditions that should not be treated with Dexamethasone include the following:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Liver disease

Administering Dexamethasone in Dogs

This drug should always be given with extreme caution, and never without the consent of a veterinarian. Dexamethasone can only be obtained through a veterinary prescription, because it is a very powerful drug. Overdose can happen easily with this drug, so it is important for pet owners to follow all instructions provided to them concerning administration and dosage. 

Always keep Dexamethasone away from small children and pets. In the event of a missed dose, the medication should be given as soon as possible. If the missed dose is close to the next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose altogether and just administer the new dose. Never give twice the dose, or more than the instructed amount. 

Because Dexamethasone can cause deadly hormonal and metabolic changes in the body if used excessively, this drug should never be used for an extended period of time. Pet owners should gradually decrease the amount of the drug they give to their pet until they no longer are given any. Stopping the use of this drug abruptly is not advised, and can cause serious complications as well.