Can Dogs Take Steroids?

Can Dogs Take Steroids?

Author WDF Staff | Last updated: Jan 02 2023


Steroids are natural hormones that can be found in the body in small amounts. They are produced by the adrenal glands located in the dog's abdomen. Steroids have many functions in the dog's body, and we can say that steroids are important for life.

If your dog is battling some certain health condition, your vet could prescribe your dog some steroids. These steroids will serve as anti-inflammatories and help with specific health issues. Don't be surprised when you find out that steroids are one of the most commonly used meds for dogs to treat various diseases.

What are steroids?

Corticosteroids, or steroids as they are usually called, are hormones that can naturally be found in the dog's body. These steroids have a major purpose in the dog's life and manage various cycles in their bodies, including

  1. Controlling blood pressure
  2. Controlling sugar levels
  3. Serving as an anti-inflammatory


Types of steroids used for dogs

Adrenal glands located in the dog's abdomen are used to produce these steroids, and they come in two main types: glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids.

Both of them have a specific purpose in the dog's body. While glucocorticoids are primarily used to reduce inflammation, the purpose of mineralocorticoids is to control water levels in the dog's body.

Both of them are equally important to maintain the health of your pet.

When should steroids be prescribed for dogs?

In most cases, steroids will be prescribed to dogs to fight and reduce inflammation. This will usually happen to treat specific allergic conditions such as:

Usually, steroids will be used to treat mild inflammatory problems, and if they are administered in high dosages, they will serve as an immunosuppressant, preventing a correct immune response.

These steroids have been used for many years, and they have proved their effectiveness, which is why most vets love them.


Are there any side effects from steroid usage in dogs?

As with any medication, there is always the possibility of some side effects, but it is important to say that when the steroids are used right, the chances of any side effects occurring are close to none.

Some dogs could initially react when the steroid treatment begins, which is a completely normal thing. Some of the symptoms your dog could exhibit include

  • Panting
  • Lameness and lack of energy
  • Nausea
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased need for urination

If you notice any of the mentioned symptoms after your dog has started steroid therapy, for most dogs, decreasing the dose will be enough to remove these side effects. The best thing you can do is to talk with your vet and find the best solution for your dog.

Long-term side effects

Steroid therapy will often treat more serious health issues, requiring your dog to take them seriously. When these steroids are used for a couple of months, there could be some additional side effects that can take place.

Most commonly, they include

  • UTI – urinary tract infections – because of the constant need for urination
  • Obesity – because of the constant need for food
  • Muscles weakness
  • Decreasing the quality of dogs' skin and coat
  • Hair loss
  • Poor healing of the wounds
  • Cushing's disease
  • Developing bacterial or fungal infections

If your dog needs to take steroid therapy for a longer period, your vet will most likely instruct you about all the possible side effects you can expect and tell you how to properly react to them.

How to secure that dog doesn't experience any side effects from steroid usage?

If your dog needs to take steroid therapy, the best thing you can do to ensure he will not experience any side effects is to listen to your vet. Your vet will instruct you and give you the guidelines that you should follow.

If you are treating some allergic reaction, and the therapy is not scheduled to last longer, you have nothing to worry about since these side effects are rare.

You should be advised only if your dog needs to take steroids longer. In this scenario, listen to your vet and follow his instruction. Most side effects happen because owners didn't fully follow instructions from their vets.


How to set the correct dosage?

Since the dog's body naturally produces steroids, their body will gradually start reducing the amount they produce when we give our dogs additional steroids.

Because of this, it is important that you strictly follow the instructions given by your vet. Only by doing so can you be sure that your dog will not have additional problems.

It is also important that you gradually decrease the usage of additional steroids since this will allow your dog's body to continue with the normal active hormone production before the therapy ends.

Should dogs use steroids in the first place?

Steroids are an excellent way of treating different health issues, and we need a valid reason why you should refuse this type of treatment. If you are trying to help your dog with some inflammation and you are not supposed to use steroids for a longer period, your dog will be all right and shouldn't experience any health-related side effects.

You must talk to your vet and explore all the options for dogs that are set to use steroids for longer. Using steroids for longer doesn't necessarily mean that your dog will experience side effects, but you must understand that the chances are higher.

You can explore all your options for treating your dog by talking to your vet, and together you can find the best possible treatment solution.

World Dog Finder team

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