Prednisone for Dogs: Dosage & Side Effects

Prednisone for Dogs: Dosage & Side Effects

Author WDF Staff


There is nothing worse than your dog being sick, and you cannot help them in any way. Different diseases can harm our dogs, but luckily, drugs like prednisone are here to help. Chances are your vet said your dog should take prednisone as a form of treatment, and it is a great thing you are learning a bit more about the effects this drug has on your dog. Here is what you should know about prednisone for dogs.

What is prednisone?

Prednisone, or prednisolone, is a glucocorticoid medication prescribed for treating different diseases in many species. Its off-label use is possible in dogs, cats, birds, horses, small mammals, and reptiles. Prednisone and prednisolone are different drugs, but when prednisone enters the liver, it is quickly converted to prednisolone. They are considered bioequivalent.

When is prednisone given to dogs?

Prednisone can be prescribed to dogs for many different reasons. This medication is often prescribed off-label, which means it is effective outside its original purpose. That practice is not uncommon in veterinary medicine, and even human drugs are often prescribed to dogs or cats. Prednisone is given to dogs for some of these conditions;

  • Replacement therapy for Addison’s disease
  • Immune-mediated disease
  • Neoplasia
  • Inflammation treatment
  • Asthma
  • Anaphylactic reactions
  • Allergies
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases

The most important thing to keep in mind when you are giving your dog an off-label medication is to stick to the vet’s instructions. Their instructions can be very different than what it says on the package. Your vet decided on specific dosage and administration based on various factors, and you should stick to their instructions.

Prednisone dosage for dogs

Prednisone can be given to dogs in two forms - pills or liquid solution. This is a drug that should be given with food. Dog owners and vets prefer tablets since they are easier to measure. There is a third option; dogs can be injected with prednisone, but only vets can administer this form.

This medication is very potent, and clinical improvements should be visible fairly quickly. The drug will have an effect after 1 - 2 hours. Make sure you keep a close eye on your dog the first time you give them this medication and watch out for any signs of side effects. The exact prednisone dosage is different for different diseases. Your vet will tell you the exact dosage, but they generally prescribe 0.25 mg per pound of body weight. However, the dosage for conditions like Addison’s disease will be significantly lower.

How does prednisone for dogs work?

Prednisone is a synthetic version of hormones that the dog’s body produces naturally. One of these hormones is cortisol (often called stress hormone). Cortisol is responsible for the body’s reaction to stress, inflammation, helps to regulate blood’s electrolyte levels, and the metabolic system to work correctly. As you can see, cortisol plays a few vital roles in your dog’s body.

When the dog’s body overreacts to certain allergens, or they have an extreme inflammatory reaction, prednisone will help stabilize that response. It will enter the dog’s bloodstream and eventually reach the liver, where it will be converted to prednisolone. When that happens, the unpleasant inflammatory reactions will stop.

Side effects

Like any other drug, prednisone can cause some side effects in dogs and other animals. Some prednisone side effects are a bit more unpleasant than others, but as soon as the treatment is completed, they should stop. The most common side effects are;

The critical thing to know about prednisone side effects in dogs is that these are the short-term side effects. This medication is usually not given to dogs longer than 7 days because their bodies can stop producing this vital hormone. When the body’s immune response drops, the dog becomes vulnerable to different infections and inflammations. This drug should not be given to pregnant females because it can cause abortions. It can also destroy a puppy’s immune system, so this drug should not be prescribed to dogs younger than 6 months.

As a dog owner, you should know how to spot if your dog is dehydrated. Check out this article for more information - Dehydration in dogs.

How safe is prednisone for dogs overall?

While there might be some potential side effects, prednisone is generally considered a safe drug for dogs. It helps them get over some nasty symptoms often connected to severe allergic reactions, hair loss, inflammations, and other painful and uncomfortable conditions. However, all drugs can become dangerous if you are not sticking to the instructions your vet has given you. It is good you are learning more about this medication, but you should never take advice from the internet. Talk to your vet and make sure you follow their instructions.

There are potential drug interactions you should know about. If your dog is taking any medications, you should tell them. Dogs should not take prednisone if they are taking NSAIDs, like meloxicam. The prednisone treatment should not be stopped abruptly, and you should make sure your dog has time to adjust to the lack of this medication in their body.

If you notice any adverse reactions or your dog experiences severe side effects, call your vet immediately and let them know what’s going on.

World Dog Finder team

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