Recently, we received an email from a pet parent requesting information on Prednisone. This lady was prescribed Prednisone for her personal use – for relieving the swelling and joint stiffness that was caused due to arthritis. She had a 6 year old German Shepherd who was also suffering from arthritis and she wanted to know if she could give the dog Prednisone too because it was very effective for her.
This is not the first time that we have heard this question though. Arthritis is a very common condition in dogs. So is skin disease, eye problems and immune system problems, all of which make Prednisone a very likely treatment option.
If you have wondered whether this corticosteroid is the right treatment option for your dog, then here’s some low down on it.
Prednisone which is a precursor of Prednisolone is a glucocorticoid, also known as a corticosteroid. It suppresses your dog’s immune system and helps reduce inflammation. This is a very similar action that the drug has in a human body. For this reason, it is used by veterinarians in many types of health conditions in dogs.
Some of them are:
These are not the only conditions though that Prednisone for dogs is used in. The drug is available in various forms including tablets, injections and topical ointments which may be prescribed according to the condition.
In conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, the dog’s immune system triggers a response to a naturally occurring protein the body. It then starts to attack this protein mistaking it for a foreign body. The result is a series of inflammatory changes to the joints which eventually leads to the joints and the cartilage wearing away completely.
Prednisone, suppresses the immune system in such cases. It prevents the immune system from overreacting to the presence of the protein and thus, helps to reduce the inflammation. The caveat is that it also makes the dog more prone to infections.
However, when administered in the right dose, the medication is extremely effective in helping reduce the inflammatory symptoms of many conditions.
That brings us to one of the most important detail about Prednisone.
The dosage of Prednisone for dogs depends on the condition being treated. Different conditions warrant different dosages and treatment durations. So, it is extremely difficult to narrow down on an exact dosage without knowing the exact condition and its severity. Also, your vet will make the recommendation based on your dog’s medical history.
As a rule of thumb though, the standard dosage of Prednisone is up to 0.3 mg per pound of your dog’s body weight. Once again, you must not self-administer Prednisone to your dog without speaking to your vet first.
In some forms of treatment like supportive treatment for cancer, Prednisone may be prescribed in higher doses.
It is not uncommon for some vets to use as much as 1 to 3 mg per pound of the pet’s body weight. This dosage may be repeated up to 3 times a day.
Vets may also alter the dosage timing to maximize its effectiveness and reduce treatment duration.
If your vet has given you the nod, then ask them about the treatment duration. In many cases, Prednisone treatment is not exceeded beyond 7 days because there is a risk of it causing dependency.
When given in the right dosage, Prednisone is completely safe for your dog. A lot of people do not know that it is an FDA approved treatment for dogs. The problem though, is that most people get the dosage wrong because they self-medicate.
Also, there are certain conditions in which you cannot use Prednisone for dogs.
For example, if your dog is diabetic or it is pregnant. Prednisone is not safe when used in puppies who are below six months
Prednisone can also trigger an adverse reaction to certain medications like antibiotics and antacids. This is what makes it one of the trickiest drugs to give to your pet without seeking help from a vet.
If your dog has been using Prednisone as a long term therapy, then you must not stop the treatment suddenly without consulting your vet. It may trigger adverse reactions. The dosage must be tapered gradually.
In extremely rare cases, suddenly stopping Prednisone treatment in dogs has caused a heart attack.
Being an immuno-suppressive drug, Prednisone will cause some side effects in your dog. The most common ones are usually mild.
Some of these are:
These side effects do not require medical attention. However, there are some potentially dangerous side effects too.
Prednisone comes with a very serious risk of overdose which can cause potentially fatal side effects in dogs. You must be extremely cautious if you are giving your dog the dose yourself. Here are some of the symptoms of a Prednisone overdose in your dog.
If you are noticing one or more of these symptoms then you must seek emergency help from your vet. Your dog may have overdosed on Prednisone.
When used in the right dose and in the right situation, Prednisone can be a lifesaver for your dog. However, being a prescription drug and one that can weaken the immune system of your pet, it is extremely important that you give it only in the precise dosage for the exact time period as recommended by your vet.