Dexamethasone for Dogs With Swollen Eyes

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. September 30, 2020
Dexamethasone for Dogs With Swollen Eyes

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Dexamethasone for dogs is a glucocorticoid steroid medication that is used for swollen eyes due to an infected eye or an allergic reaction and other inflammatory conditions or immune-mediated diseases.

If your dog has been prescribed dexamethasone, continue reading this AnimalWised article to learn about its uses, side effects, dosage and more.

You may also be interested in: Polytrim Eye Drops for Dogs
  1. What is dexamethasone?
  2. Uses of dexamethasone in dogs
  3. Dexamethasone dosage for dogs
  4. Contraindications of dexamethasone in dogs
  5. Side effects of dexamethasone in dogs

What is dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is a synthetic glucocorticoid derived from cortisol. It stands out for its anti-inflammatory effect, but it has other uses too. It is not a drug that can be given without veterinary control, since it affects the body in many ways. Therefore, it must be administered with care, monitoring and gradually withdrawing in cases where its use has been prolonged. This way we can avoid any side effects of the medication.

The effects of dexamethasone are as follows:

  • Increases glucose and amino acids in the blood and glycogen in the liver
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-allergic
  • Immunosuppressive, affecting the production of antibodies
  • It affects ACTH, which is the hormone that controls cortisol production

Dexamethasone for dogs is marketed in different presentations, such as injectable intramuscular, intravenous or intra-articula , which is usually administered by the veterinarian in the clinic. There is also dexamethasone in tablets that can be given by mouth. Dexamethasone in dogs works very quickly as it shows its effect after just a few minutes of being injected. It is then excreted in the urine and in the bile.

The most common brand names for this medication is Azium®, Dexasone®, Decadron®, Dexium®, Dexameth-a-Vet®, Dex-a-vet®, Maxidex®, Neofordex®, Hexadrol®.

Uses of dexamethasone in dogs

Dexamethasone is used for different inflammatory and allergic health issues. It can also be prescribed in case of trauma or when the dog is in shock or circulatory collapse. This medicine is basically used to reduce inflammation, an allergic reaction or an excessive activity of the immune system, but it has many effects on the body.

To sum up, dexamethasone in dogs is used for:

  • Many inflammatory conditions
  • Allergic conditions
  • Adrenal gland disease symptoms
  • Immune-mediated diseases
  • To diagnose Cushing's disease

It should be clear that dexamethasone is aimed at improving symptoms, not curing health problems. Therefore, the veterinarian must diagnose and choose the correct treatment for each case. You may also be interested in our article about what allergy medicine is safe for dogs.

Dexamethasone for Dogs With Swollen Eyes - Uses of dexamethasone in dogs

Dexamethasone dosage for dogs

The dosage of dexamethasone for dogs will depend on the weight of the animal and the presentation of the drug chosen by the veterinarian. This is because your veterinarian must choose what dosage, presentation and frequency of administration is correct and safe for your dog's health conditions.

To give an example, 2 mg per ml injectable dexamethasone can be administered at the rate of 0.05-0.2 mg per kg of body weight in a single dose. However, given the multiple and potentially serious side effects of dexamethasone, for longer or medium-term treatments your veterinarian will seek the minimum and effective dose in order to reduce these inconveniences.

Contraindications of dexamethasone in dogs

There are some circumstances where dexamethasone is not the most suitable drug for the dog, or at least it should be handled with caution. The only person that can determine this is a professional, in other words, a veterinarian. This is because they understand the consequences and dangers of using this medicine in certain situations. You should never self-medicate your dog as, in the worst cases, it can result in their death.

Dexamethasone should not be used, or used with caution, in certain situations. The following are the cases that are contradicted with dexamethasone in dogs:

  • Diabetes mellitus, as it works as an insulin antagonist
  • Chronic nephritis, which is inflammation of the kidney
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart failure
  • Osteoporosis
  • Active viral infections
  • Systemic infections, caused by fungi
  • Bacterial infections, without established treatment
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Demodicosis or demodectic mange
  • Immunosuppression, by reducing the immune response
  • Gestation, as it could affect puppies and cause malformations, miscarriages, premature deliveries, complications in childbirth, fetal death, placental retention or uterine inflammation
  • Lactation, as it can decrease production
  • Vaccination, it is necessary to wait two weeks after vaccination to be able to administer dexamethasone
  • Allergic to to this drug

It's very important for you to notify your veterinarian about any medication, special diet or other health issues your dog has. This is because this will influence their decisions when deciding on the correct medication and dosage for your dog.

Lastly, dexamethasone is a medicine that treats certain symptoms. It's not a cure to your dog's health issue but will help them cope with the symptoms. This is why it's very important for your veterinarian to determine the right treatment for their specific case.

Dexamethasone for Dogs With Swollen Eyes - Contraindications of dexamethasone in dogs

Side effects of dexamethasone in dogs

Normally, a single dose of dexamethasone does not usually cause adverse effects, but long-term treatments are associated with side effects and even serious consequences. For example, dexamethasone can cause iatrogenic hyperadrenocorticism, better known as cushing's syndrome, during and after its administration. But there are other side effects, such as the following:

  • Polyuria, an increase in the amount of urine passed.
  • Polydipsia, the increase in water intake.
  • Polyphagia or increased food consumption.
  • Fluid retention, especially if the treatment is prolonged.
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers, a sore on the lining of the stomach or small intestine.
  • Increase in liver enzymes and liver size.
  • Transient hyperglycemia, an elevation of glucose in the blood.
  • Delayed wound healing.
  • Weakening of defenses.
  • Worsening of infections.

This is why we insist that dexamethasone for dogs should only be administered under veterinary prescription and monitoring. If your dog is suffering from swollen eyes, an allergic reaction or an immune-mediated disease, take them to your veterinarian as soon as possible and ask your veterinarian if dexamethasone is right for your dog's conditions.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Dexamethasone for Dogs With Swollen Eyes, we recommend you visit our Medicine category.

  • Parent J. Effects of dexamethasone on pancreatic tissue and on serum amylase and lipase activities in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 1982 Apr;180(7):743-746.
  • Levine JM, Levine GJ, Boozer L, I.-S. Adverse effects and outcome associated with dexamethasone administration in dogs with acute thoracolumbar intervertebral disk herniation: 161 cases (2000-2006). J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2008 Feb 1;232(3):411-7. doi: 10.2460/javma.232.3.411. PMID: 18241109.
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Dexamethasone for Dogs With Swollen Eyes