Prednisone for Dogs: What Is the Safe Amount for Itching and Autoimmune Disorders?


Prednisone is an oral steroid known for its powerful anti-inflammatory effects. It can treat many types of ailments, ranging from skin diseases and allergic disorders to breathing difficulties, immune system disorders, and even cancer.

This synthetic steroid is not intended for just humans, it can also be prescribed to dogs. If your vet recommended this medication for your pet, we’re here to give you tips regarding its safe use. Read on for more awareness on administering this drug to your pet.

Is Prednisone Safe for Dogs?

Prednisone is a popular treatment for canines but it does not have a high margin of safety for them. You have to know about the short-term and long-term side effects of this synthetic steroid before giving it to your pet. It can only be given to healthy dogs older thansix months.

The Food and Drug Administration approved its use on animals given that it is administered under the guidance of a veterinarian. In the United States, the brands often used for dogs are Meticorten, Delta-Cortef, and Prednis-Tab.

The Prednisone treatment should not be discontinued abruptly. Termination of the drug should be done gradually. Stopping the medication earlier than required could lead to failure of the treatment.

According to the Willows Veterinary Centre, stopping the steroids hastily can be life-threatening for dogs. When you abruptly stop the treatment, your pet could suddenly not have enough steroids in his circulation.

Once ingested, the medicine goes through the bloodstream and passes through the liver. The body converts it into prednisolone which has many benefits in the body. As with humans, it should be taken with food to avoid stomach upset.

What You Need to Know About Synthetic Steroids

Your pet’s body, just like yours, can naturally produce corticosteroids which are formed in the adrenal glands. These steroid hormones are responsible for keeping the immune system in optimal condition. It also controls your dog’s response to allergens and stress.

Unlike the naturally occurring corticosteroids, synthetic steroids have a faster activity inside the body. They are also more effective in managing allergy symptoms because they are more potent.

Synthetic steroids can be of great help when your dog’s inflammatory responses become out of control. In such case, Prednisone can stop the unlikely aftereffects in his body faster than the corticosteroids.

Prednisone Dosage for Dogs

It is a must to follow the dosage prescribed by your veterinarian. Decreasing the dosage might result in a possible pitfall. Always give the medication as directed by your veterinarian.

The dosage will vary depending on your pet’s condition. But in general, the acceptable dosage is 0.5 milligram for every pound of the pet’s body weight. This is the quantity needed for treating inflammation.

For more serious conditions that involve the immune system, your vet may prescribe a higher dose of even 1 milligram for every pound of body weight. Longer use of Prednisone requires frequent trips to the vet for follow-up checkups.

Uses of Prednisone in Dogs

  • For severe allergies – it works by tentatively blocking the allergy symptoms in canines. Like any allergy medication, Prednisone is just a temporary fix.
  • For musculoskeletal pain – it is effective in treating mild inflammatory conditions that involve the bones, muscles, tendons, and joints.
  • For asthma – it can be used to treat breathing problems and asthma-like diseases.
  • For inflammatory bowel disease – this drug can also save your dog if there isdamage to the intestines and stomach that result in inflammatory bowel disease.
  • For skin itching – your pet will likely be put on steroid treatment if he is suffering from dermatitis and colitis. Your vet may also endorse its use if the dog has enteritis.
  • For swelling of the brain – in an emergency, vets may administer high doses of steroidsif the dog suffers from the damage of the brain or meningitis. Prednisone has already saved the lives of dogs in many cases.

What to Discuss With Your Vet

Your vet needs to know if your pet is currently taking any other type of medication. Prednisone should not be taken along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If Prednisone is really necessary, your dog has to skip the NSAIDs.

This medication may not be given to dogs suffering from heart diseases, stomach ulcers, and hypothyroidism. Let your vet know if your pet is going through any serious health condition.

Your pooch will not be a candidate for steroid therapy if he has a serious bacterial infection as the steroids could only make your pet more susceptible to infections. Also, inform your vet if your pet is about to get his vaccinations.

If your veterinarian recommended the long-term use of the drug, you eventually need to visit the clinic more often. Your dog needs to undergo a series of tests to see how he is reacting to the medication.

Risks in Administering Prednisone to Dogs

Never give Prednisone to your pet if he had a history of hypersensitivity to steroids. As with humans, canines could also develop an allergy to certain medications including synthetic steroids.

Prednisone is not recommended for canines with kidney and liver dysfunctions. If your pet’s liver is not functioning well, your vet may recommend Prednisolone instead.

Prednisolone is also a type of synthetic corticosteroid that also produces the same side effects as Prednisone. However, Prednisolone is believed to be a safer option for pets with liver problems.

Prednisone Side Effects in Canines

The drug’s most common side effect is increased thirst. It’s also possible for your dog to develop nausea, lethargy, and increased hunger. It is normal for your pet to display behavior changes while taking the medication.

Prednisone should not be administered for longer than the recommended period. Doing so can damage your dog’s liver. In some instances, it also causes muscle slackening and hair loss.

When Not to Give Prednisone to Dogs

Your veterinarian will not endorse the use of Prednisone if your pet is currently pregnant or lactating. It’s not safe to use if you are breeding your dog. Prednisone is potent enough to induce premature labor in animals.

Prednisone and other types of synthetic steroids should be used with caution in dogs with diabetes. It is possible for a pre-diabetic dog to have diabetes because of using corticosteroids. This is because steroids can affect the blood sugar levels.

Natural Alternatives to Prednisone

If you are quite hesitant to administer the drug due to its many possible side effects, check out the following alternatives:

  • Cod Liver Oil – it is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which reduces the inflammatory response while improving your pet’s overall health. Aside from COD liver oil, other fish oils such as salmon oil and krill oil can also be given to dogs.
  • Arnica Montana – this herbal plant can reduce swelling by cleaning up the inflammatory waste in the body. As a homeopathic remedy, it can be administered in the form of oral medication. It is also available in topical form, which can be used for bruises, insect bites, and injuries.
  • Bosweilla – often given to dogs in the form of dietary supplements, the sap of this tree is known for its ability to treat allergies, arthritis, abdominal pain, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Grapefruit Seed Extract – aside from its antiviral and anti-parasitic properties, your pet could also benefit from its antioxidant properties. It is used in treating external and internal problems in dogs.
  • Cat’s Claw – its bark and its roots are used for treating many types of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and allergies.
  • Slippery Elm Bark – it is usually given in the form of a dietary supplement for a short period. The tannins found in the bark of slippery elm can reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel – it is popular for its positive effects on arthritis in dogs. The natural glucosamine and chondroitin add to its potency to fight inflammation.

Just a word of caution, don’t give your pet any herbal products while he is still taking synthetic steroids. They could interact with Prednisone and may cause unpleasant side effects. It’s also important to know the cautions and dosing for the herbal supplement you are planning to give your dog.

Aside from using herbs and fish oil, you can also introduce an anti-inflammatory diet for your pet. This might be helpful especially if your pet is dealing with allergies that are a life-long battle.

Try giving your pet anti-inflammatory foods such as apples, spinach, broccoli, and blueberries. Also, avoid items that can trigger inflammation including grains, processed meat, and refined carbohydrates.

The Bottom Line

Prednisone is safe for dogs but it should be administered under a veterinarian’s supervision. While you can safely administer it to a healthy dog, take note that it still comes with short-term and long-term side effects.

During the steroid treatment, you need to monitor your pet closely to minimize his risks of experiencing serious reactions. If the aftereffects bother you, better ask your vet about safer anti-inflammatory options.


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