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Corticosteroids, Prednisone for Dogs, Cats – Uses, Side Effects, Dangers

My Boxer x Pit Bull Robbie and my cat Tibby
In this article…
  1. A Brief Explanation of Corticosteroids
  2. Typical Methods of Dispensing Steroids including Corticosteroids, Prednisone
  3. Typical Situations Where Prednisone May Be Prescribed by Your Veterinarian
  4. Side Effects of Prednisone
  5. Conditions That Increase the Health Risk of Prednisone to Your Dog or Cat
  6. Natural Alternatives to Prednisone, Steroids for Dogs, Cats
  7. Common Corticosteroid Glucocorticoids – a partial list
  8. Conventional Steroidal Medicines – a partial list
1.0 A Brief Explanation of Corticosteroids
Your dog’s and cat’s body naturally produces corticosteroids – a class of hormone steroid produced in the cortex of the adrenal gland. Corticosteroids are subdivided into two major classes as follows…
Glucocorticoids…
  • Cortisol is the main glucocorticoid that occurs naturally in dogs;
  • Glucocorticoid:
      • Is a major player in the body’s ability to increase and maintain natural conversion of glucose from sources such as amino acids (protein building blocks) and lipids (fats);
      • Enables the transfer of amino acids from tissues;
      • Supports the conservation of glucose;
      • Stimulates breakdown of fat, which releases fatty-acids for energy;
    • Is a powerful anti-inflammatory;
    • Is an important immunosuppressant;
      • These last two functions are not separable.
      • This dual function – 1) anti-inflammatory, and 2) immunosuppressant, is what creates the critical fail-point when synthetic drugs such as Prednisone are given to dogs and cats;
      • While the anti-inflammatory function is a health asset, the immonsuppressant function is a very serious health threat;
      • When corticosteroids such as Prednisone are introduced to the body for use as an anti-inflammatory they also act to suppress the immune system, resulting in a weakening of the body’s natural defence system.
Mineralocorticoids…
Mineralocorticoids:
  • Are a vital component of the body’s hormone balancing system;
  • Function in the kidney, where their purpose is to enable the exchange of sodium and potassium;
  • Support the body’s ability to maintain a balanced level of hydration. 
Having read the points listed above you can see why keeping balanced natural levels of corticosteroids in the body are so important.
Synthetic corticosteroids are used to treat many health conditions such as allergies, cancer and inflammatory diseases as noted further above. 
Prednisone is just one of the many synthetic corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are commonly used by allopathic veterinarians to treat a host of conditions in dogs and cats.
2.0 Typical Methods of Dispensing
Steroids including Corticosteroids
  1. Oral medication – drops or inhaled;
  2. Injected medication;
  3. Topical Application – ointment (creams, gels) or drops;
  4. For skin;
  5. For Eye (opthalmic);
  6. For Ear (otic)
Inhaled (spray)
  • Typical uses: nasal, sinus, bronchial and lung conditions;
Topical (creams, gels, etc.)
  • Typical uses: skin and eye conditions;
Oral (pills)
  • Cancer, inflammatory conditions and diseases such as:
    • Addison’s Disease (adrenal insufficiency of cortisol – a glucocorticoid);
    • Allergies;
    • Arthritis (Rheumatoid arthritis);
    • Crohn’s Disease;
    • GME;
    • Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) also known as chronic Colitis;
    • Kidney Disease;
    • Lupus;
    • Sudden trauma due to injury resulting in inflammation;
    • Ulcers, etc.
Systemic (injection)
  • Typical uses: cancer, inflammatory diseases and conditions
There are multiple classes of synthetic corticosteroids – Prednisone falls under the Hydrocortisone class of corticosteroids.
3.0 Typical Situations Where Prednisone
May Be Prescribed
  • Conditions that require reduction of Inflammation – a partial list…
4.0 Side Effects of Prednisone
Use of Prednisone (and other corticosteroids) over the long-term, can and often do erode the body’s ability to respond to physical stress as corticosteroids weaken the immune system.
  • Prednisone:
    • May mask signs of infection;
    • Make it easier to contract an infection;
    • Worsen any current infection.
Side effects of Prednisone – a partial listing…
  • Adrenal/Hormone problems;
  • Anxiety;
  • Blood clots;
  • Blood sugar elevation;
  • Bloody or black stools;
  • Bone loss including the triggering of Osteoporosis;
  • Bruising, bleeding (tendency to);
  • Depression;
  • Esophageal damage;
  • Fluid retention can be severe and can include fluid around the heart and lungs;
  • Hair loss;
  • Loss of Appetite;
  • Mood swings;
  • Muscle weakness or pain;
  • Seizures;
  • Skin rashes;
  • Sleep deprivation;
  • Slow healing of wounds;
  • Swelling;
  • Nausea;
  • Vision Problems;
  • Vomiting;
  • Weight gain.
 
5.0 Conditions That Increase the Health
Risk of Prednisone to Your Dog or Cat
The following is a partial list…
  • Anxiety and/or depression;
  • Blood Pressure problems;
  • Diabetes;
  • Eye Diseases;
  • Heart problems;
  • Kidney disease;
  • Liver Disease;
  • Mineral imbalance;
  • Osteoporosis;
  • Tendency to acquire infections;
  • Thyroid problems;
  • Ulcers.
As you can see above there are many health threatening side effects of Prednisone.
6.0 Natural Alternatives to Prednisone and
other Steroids for Dogs and Cats
In emergency situations steroids, corticosteroids including Prednisone can save your dog’s or cat’s life. Unfortunately these drugs do have serious side effects as you can see listed above, and the risk for serious harm increases exponentially the longer the dog or cat remains on these drugs.
Natural (non-synthetic) foods, herbs and homeopathic alternatives may (in some cases) be used to completely eliminate the need for Prednisone, in other cases it may be possible to taper off and reduce the amount of Prednisone being used over the long-term.
If you would like to learn about the many natural alternatives to Corticosteroids including Prednisone you can read the article ‘Natural, Herbal Alternatives to Prednisone, Steroids,NSAIDs for Dogs, Cats’
7.0 Common Corticosteroid
Glucocorticoids
A partial list…
  • Generic Name (Brand Name)
    • Prednisone
    • Prednisolone
    • Dexamethasone (i.e. Azium)
    • Trimacinolone (i.e. Animax, Panalog Vetalog) 
    • Methylprednisolone (i.e. Medrol)
8.0 Conventional Steroidal Medicines
A partial list…
Oral and Injectable…
Desoxycorticosterone…
Pericorten-V
Dexamethasone…
Azium
Decadron,
Dexadreson
Dexafort
Dexaject
Rapidexon
Voren
Voren Suspension
Prednisone…
Deltasone
Meticorten
Sterapred
Prednisolone…
Prednicare Tablets
Prednistab Solu-Delta-Cortef PLT Tablets
Temaril-P
Methylprednisolone…
Depo-Medrol
Depo-Medrone
Medrol
Medrone
Solu-Medrone
Triamcinolone…
Cortalone
Triamtabs
 Vetalog

Topical for Skin
  • Animax
  • Betagen
  • Corti-Care Spray,  Corti-Care Lotion,  Corti-Care Shampoo Hydrocortisone Cream/Gel
  • Cortispray
  • Dermigard Hydrocortisone Spray, Dermigard Medicated Shampoo
  • Excel Hydrocortisone Spray
    Excel Hydrocortisone Shampoo
  • Genesis, Genesis Topical Spray
  • Fuciderm gel-UK
  • GentaVed Topical Spray
  • Gentosin Topical Spray
  • Mometamax, (otic-ears)
  • Panalog ointment and cream with antibiotics
  • ResiCORT Leave-On Lotion
  • Tritop
  • Zymox Topical Wipes with Hydrocortisone
    Zymox Topical Spray with Hydrocortisone
    Zymox Topical Cream with Hydrocortisone
Opathalmic (For Eyes)

Steroids
  • Decadron (Dexamethasone)
  • Inflamase Forte (Prednisolone)
  • Econopred Plus (Prednisolone)
  • Pred Forte (Prednisolone)
Steroids with Antibiotics
  • BNP with Hydrocortisone bacitracin, neomycin, polymixin & hydrocortisone acetate Neobacimyx-H
  • Cortisporin
  • Gentocin Durafilm
  • Dexamethasone Sodium Phosphate Ophthalmic Solution
    NeoDecadron
  • Neo-Predef
  • Neo-Poly-Dex
  • Prednisolone Acetate Ophthalmic Suspension
  • Prednisone Sodium Phosphate Ophthalmic Solution Trioptic S
  • Vetropolycin HC bacitracin, neomycin, polymixin & hydrocortisone acetate

Otic (for Ears)
Steroids
  • Synotic Otic Solution
Steroids with Antibiotics
  • Animax
  • Aurizon
  • Canaural
  • Cortisporin Otic
  • DVMax
  • GentaVed Otic
  • Mometamax
  • Otomax
  • Surolan
  • Tresaderm/Mintezol – also for topical application
  • Tritop
  • Zymox with Hydrocortisone
Inhaler
Steroids
  • Amazacort (Triamcinolone)

About Karen

Dogs are my life, my work, my passion… I am a Dog Whisperer, Dog Behaviorist and Holistic Canine Wellness Adviser with a wealth of real-time, real-life experience living and working with dogs. For two and a half decades I have worked with and shared my life with dogs. My own dog pack is comprised of eleven dogs, various breeds and ages. I provide a full range of services including Obedience Training for puppies and dogs; canine Behavior Modification; canine Psychological Rehabilitation, specializing in assisting dogs that are experiencing extreme states of insecurity, anxiety and aggressive-reactive behavior; Diet, Nutrition and Wellness Advice and Plans for canines and felines…natural wisdom for you and your companion animal.

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