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Prednisone for Dogs: All You Need to Know

Veterinarians.org Team

By

Medically reviewed by

Ivana Crnec, DVM

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Is it Safe to Give Prednisone to Dogs?

Is it Safe to Give Prednisone to Dogs

Yes, Prednisone for dogs is safe, but only when necessary and approved by a vet. Prednisone or Prednisolone (brand names Deltasone®, Prednis-Tab®, Rayos®, Pediapred®) is a synthetic glucocorticosteroid used in a variety of situations and conditions.

In veterinary medicine, Prednisone, Prednisolone, and similar steroids are used extra-label for reducing inflammation, achieving immunosuppression, managing anaphylactic reactions, and adjunct drugs in dogs with certain systemic diseases like Addison’s disease and neoplasia. 

In more specific pharmacology terms, Prednisone and Prednisolone are not exactly the same. However, in the liver, Prednisone converts to Prednisolone quickly and they are considered to be bioequivalent (same absorption and effects). 

What does Prednisolone do for Dogs?

The most important effect of Prednisolone for dogs is its ability to reduce inflammation, thus managing inflammatory processes in different parts of the body. However, Prednisolone has other effects too. Let’s take a closer look at the different uses of Prednisone for dogs. 

Prednisolone as Anti-Inflammatory Drug for Dogs. Prednisolone has strong anti-inflammatory features. Therefore, it is widely used in the management of excessive itchiness due to skin allergies and joint pain due to arthritis. It is also the medication of choice in the reduction of inflammation and swelling in dogs suffering from intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), central nervous system disorders, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Prednisone for Dogs for Immunosuppression. Steroids suppress the immune system, thus preventing excessive reactions. Therefore it is used in the management of autoimmune diseases such as lupus and some autoimmune forms of hemolytic anemia. The ability to suppress the immune system can also be used in allergy management. 

Prednisolone as Anti-Shock Therapy for Dogs. Urgent administration of Prednisolone in dogs going through anaphylactic reactions and shock can be life-saving. Steroids are one of the drugs used in the anti-shock protocol

Prednisone for Dogs with Tumors. Prednisolone is part of the multimodal management strategy for dogs with certain types of tumors. For example, in dogs with lymphoma, the most common type of tumor, steroids can shrink the lymph nodes, thus providing temporary relief.

Prednisone for Dogs with Addison’s Disease. Dogs with Addison’s disease cannot produce adequate levels of corticosteroid hormones. In such cases, prednisolone supplementation helps restore normal hormone levels. 

Prednisone for Dogs with Allergic Reactions. Steroids are widely used in dogs with allergies. This is because, as already described, they act on two levels. First, Prednisolone suppresses the immune system and avoids overreactions, and second, they manage the result of the immune system’s reaction (skin itchiness). 

Does Prednisone Help Dogs with Pain?

Yes, Prednisone helps dogs with pain. Many oral and injectable corticosteroids like Prednisolone, Prednisone, Triamcinolone, Dexamethasone are used for pain management, especially in dogs with bone and joint issues. 

However, Prednisone and other steroids are not suitable for long-term pain management as they affect every cell in the body and, when used long-term, can have specific side effects. If your dog is suffering from a painful condition, talk with a veterinarian to craft an appropriate pain management strategy.

What are the Side Effects of a Dog Taking Prednisone?

The common side effects of Prednisone for dogs are increased thirst (polydipsia), increased urination (polyuria), and increased appetite (polyphagia). Usually, these short-term side effects subside once the dog gets used to the new medication. 

Long-term use of Prednisone for dogs and administration in high doses may trigger additional adverse reactions, such as:

  • Diarrhea and/or vomiting
  • Panting (fast breathing rate)
  • Behavioral changes (aggression). 

Some extra sensitive dogs may develop more serious side effects like GI tract ulcerations such as bloody stool and vomit, fever, loss of appetite, weight gain, abdominal distension, muscle weakness, heart problems, diabetes, Addison’s disease, dry hair, and hair loss. 

Prednisone should be used with extra caution in: 

  • Dogs with heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Dogs with diabetes (increases the insulin requirements)
  • Dogs with cataracts and osteoporosis 
  • Dogs with kidney disease and liver disease 
  • Growing puppies, pregnant and lactating bitches. 

Due to the high risk of adverse reactions, Prednisone must not be used in pets that are allergic to the active ingredient and in dogs receiving drugs with known drug interactions and drugs that can cause stomach ulcers and ulcers in the intestines. 

Because of potential interactions, Prednisone is unadvisable for dogs that need to be subdued to laboratory tests for allergies, urine glucose levels, cholesterol levels, potassium levels, and thyroid levels. 

Finally, Prednisone must not be used at all in: 

  • Dogs with tuberculosis
  • Dogs with Cushing’s disease
  • Dogs with systemic viral infections 
  • Dogs with systemic fungal infections. 

Can Dogs Overdose on Prednisone?

Yes, dogs can overdose on Prednisone. The typical Prednisone overdose triggers symptoms like high blood pressure, changes in behavior like anxiety or depression, weakness, itching, loss of hearing, heart problems, and seizures. 

To avoid Prednisone overdoses, stick to the veterinarian’s guidelines to give them the right dosage and dosing frequency. In case of accidental ingestion or suspected overdose, call your vet immediately.

Prednisone for Dogs Dosage

Prednisone Dosage for Dogs

The recommended dose of Prednisolone for dogs is 2.5 mg per 10 pounds of body weight (5.5 mg/kg). Depending on the protocol, Prednisone can be given once or twice per day. Here is an overview of the Prednisone for dogs dosing based on weight categories:

  • Dogs weighing between 5 and 20 lbs – 1.25 mg to 5 mg 
  • Dogs weighing between 20 and 40 lbs – 5 mg to 10 mg
  • Dogs weighing between 40 and 80 lbs – 10 mg to 20 mg 
  • Dogs weighing between 80 and 160 lbs – 20 mg to 40 mg.

If you accidentally forgot to give your dog its Prednisone tablet or liquid, give it as soon as you remember. Alternatively, if it is close to the next dosing, skip the missed dose completely and continue with the scheduled dosing. Never double-dose your dog, as Prednisone overdoses are possible.

How Long Does it Take for Prednisone for Dogs to Start Working?

Prednisone is a fast-acting medication and usually takes between one and two hours to start working. However, depending on the underlying reason, it may take a bit longer before there is a visible improvement in the dog’s condition. 

Prednisone is a short-acting medication, meaning it stops working and gets eliminated from the dog’s body within 24 hours. Prednisone’s effects may last longer in dogs with liver and kidney diseases. 

Prednisone for Dogs Usage Guidelines

Prednisone is given to dogs by mouth in one of its two available forms – tablets and liquids. In hospital settings, it can also be given in the form of injection. If using oral liquids, you need to be extra careful when measuring the dosage. 

Ideally, you should give the drug with food, especially if your dog has a sensitive stomach. If your dog needs only one Prednisone administration a day, give the medication in the morning. Also, in case you need to discontinue the drug, it is important to do that gradually as stopping the Prednisone use abruptly can trigger complications.

Like all medications, Prednisone may boost or inhibit other drugs. Here is a list of all the meds with known drug interactions with Prednisone: 

  • Certain antibiotics (rifampin, macrolides)
  • Antifungals (amphotericin B, ketoconazole)
  • Immunosuppressants (cyclosporine)
  • Human non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aspirin)
  • Canine NSAIDs (Metacam, Previcox, Carporfen, Deramaxx)
  • Potassium-depleting diuretics
  • Barbiturates (phenobarbital)
  • Heart medications (digoxin, ephedrine)
  • Certain hormones (estrogens, insulin, mitotane)
  • Chemotherapy medications (cyclophosphamide)
  • Cholesterol-lowering drugs (cholestyramine)
  • Anticholinesterases
  • Certain antidepressants (bupropion)
  • Anticoagulants (warfarin)
  • All types of vaccines. 

Make sure you tell your veterinarian if the dog is receiving some of these drugs. Also, consult if using some vitamins, supplements, or even herbal remedies. 

Depending on the underlying reason for using Prednisolone, its duration of use, and the dog’s overall health status, the veterinarian is likely to recommend frequent checkups. Usually, the checkup will include bloodwork, urinalysis, ACTH stimulation tests, and blood sugar levels monitoring. 

Prednisone for Dogs Alternatives

Prednisone Alternatives for Dogs

If your dog is not a candidate for Prednisone or Prednisolone, talk to the veterinarian about other alternatives. The specter of alternatives depends on the underlying issue of using the steroid medication. Here are some popular alternatives for Prednisone for dogs. 

CBD Oil for Dogs. CBD oil can be helpful to dogs with allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, tumors, and arthritis. We strongly recommend the Honest Paws CBD Oil and CBD treats. They are made of organic, full-spectrum hemp and enriched with health-boosting and condition-specific ingredients. 

Probiotics for Dogs. Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease can benefit from the daily use of probiotics. Our top choice is the Honest Paws Pro + Prebiotic Supplement for pets. It is made with different bacteria strains and dietary fiber. The powder comes in easy-to-use, pre-packed and single-dose sachets. 

Joint Supplements for Dogs. Arthritis can be successfully managed using joint supplements featuring chondroitin, glucosamine, hyaluronic acid, MSM, and Green-Lipped Mussels (GLM). You should try the Honest Paws Mobility Powder. It is rich in the mentioned ingredients and easy to use because of the bacon popcorn flavor. 

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Whether you prefer medications like Prednisone for dogs or natural approaches, it is advisable to talk with your trusted vet before use. The information in this article is purely educational. 

Sources

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/lymphoma-in-dogs-symptoms-diagnosis-and-treatment/

https://dogtime.com/dog-health/53967-lupus-dogs-symptoms-causes-diagnosis-treatment

https://www.vin.com/apputil/content/defaultadv1.aspx?pId=14365&catId=73680&id=7259218

https://www.thomasvillevet.net/site/blog/2020/11/13/ivdd-surgery-in-dogs

https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/inflammatory-bowel-disease-in-dogs