The Use of Prednisone in Dogs

By Tess Thompson

Through time, dogs have proven their usefulness to humans. In the Stone Age and beyond, dogs and their keen sense of smell aided man in hunting. In today’s fast-paced world, dogs help us in relieving stress by providing stress-relieving companionship.

A good owner accepts great responsibility for the relationship he shares with his dog. Taking good care of your canine pal is not always easy. Reality checks happen in the form of diseases, and the solution is not always as simple as giving medication. Many medicines that are administered to dogs come with their own set of complications and side effects.

Prednisone is one drug that is often used for treating autoimmune diseases in dogs. It is a synthetic, inactive corticosteroid that is chemically converted by the liver into prednisolone, an active steroid. The benefits of using the drug for treating a number of conditions in humans and animals have been established over time. Prednisone has varied and diverse uses. Some examples are as follows:

  1. Treatment of excessive itching
  2. Alleviation of asthma and other allergies
  3. Managing emergencies like injuries to the spinal chord
  4. Controlling rejections during organ transplants
  5. Treating kidney disorders

On one hand, the manner in which this drug works allows it to be extremely versatile.  It suppresses the immune system; therefore, it can be used to treat auto-immune, inflammatory, and kidney diseases.

On the other hand, the side effects that prednisone causes are burdensome for the pet owner. The following side effects can present themselves even when the drug is used for a short period of time:

  1. Renal disorders
  2. Abnormal thirst levels
  3. Excessive hunger

Side effects that occur after a considerable period of usage are as follows:

  1. Ulcers in the digestive tract
  2. Pain and inflammation in pancreas
  3. Diabetes
  4. Degeneration of muscles
  5. Unpredictable change in behaviors

The most dangerous side effect that can appear while administering prednisone is hyperadrenocorticism in dogs . Also known as Cushing’s disease, this condition is caused by an inadvertent overdose of the drug.

Since it is a corticosteroid itself, prednisone obstructs the proper functioning of the adrenal glands. If the drug is continued for more than a week, it can affect the normal functioning of the adrenal glands on a permanent basis.  This results in a dependency on the drug, since the body is unable to create its own natural corticosteroids.

Though prednisone seems like a wonder drug at times, indiscriminate use of this drug can be very dangerous.  It can lead to conditions like Cushing’s disease in dogs and also Addison’s disease, both of which can prove to be fatal.



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