Side Effects of Prednisolone for Dogs

Prednisolone for dogs is a prescription drug commonly used to reduce swelling or relieve pain caused by trauma, injury or illness. As a corticosteroid with properties resembling naturally occurring hormones, prednisolone helps regulate immune system responses that create inflammation in dogs. It also functions similarly to another commonly prescribed corticosteroid, prednisone. Prednisolone is frequently prescribed to treat inflammation caused by joint disorders, injuries or surgery, and allergic reactions like itching, asthma and hives. The medication can also be used to manage autoimmune disorders or to help prevent the rejection of transplanted organs. A liquid form of the drug, prednisolone acetate for dogs, is available to combat swelling resulting from canine eye infections. Here is a summary of the side effects and guidelines for use of this widely used medicine for dogs.

Prednisolone Side Effects

Prednisolone is generally considered safe and well tolerated by many dogs, however, side effects can occur.

The medication affects the absorption of salt and water, so dogs using the drug may experience symptoms related to an imbalance of these nutrients. Such effects may include water retention, excessive thirst and hunger, weight gain and frequent urination. Prednisolone medication may also disrupt a dog's digestive system, contributing to diarrhea and vomiting. Like other corticosteroids, prednisolone also effects the proper function of the canine immune system, so dogs may be more susceptible to infections while taking the medication. Other side effects sometimes associated with prednisolone use include:

  • increased panting
  • poor hair coat
  • thin skin
  • changes in behavior like aggression or lethargy

Dogs taking prednisolone for extended periods, like for the management of arthritis-related conditions, may be at risk for other adverse effects. These long-term symptoms include gastric ulcers, diabetes, liver damage, pancreatitis, muscle wasting and the hormonal disorder Cushing's syndrome.

Guidelines for Prednisolone Use

Prednisolone is generally not intended for use in dogs with conditions like stomach ulcers, fungal infections, diabetes, Cushing's syndrome, high blood pressure, kidney disease or a history of heart or liver problems. The drug is also not recommended for young dogs or animals that are nursing, pregnant or taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Discontinuing prednisolone suddenly should be avoided due to serious effects on the metabolism. Your veterinarian may recommend a carefully monitored and safe schedule for reducing your dog's prednisolone dosage.

Prednisolone is a commonly prescribed drug that can help treat inflammation and pain caused by a number of conditions, from osteoarthritis and allergies, to surgery and eye infections. Learning about prednisolone's side effects and guidelines for use may help owners reduce the risk of their dog experiencing an adverse reaction to the drug.