Prednisone for Cats - Dosage and Side Effects

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. Updated: October 27, 2019
Prednisone for Cats - Dosage and Side Effects

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Prednisone (or prednisolone) is a drug you may be familiar with for human use. It is also commonly used for animals such as dogs or cats. In this AnimalWised article on prednisone for cats, we explain what prednisone is used for and look at the dosage and side effects of this medication for cats. We also explore the cases in which a veterinarian may prescribe it and what effects you can expect after its use.

As always, it is dangerous to give your cat any medication that has not been prescribed by a veterinarian. Although you may have previously used prednisone for your cat, don't repeat its administration without first checking with the vet.

You may also be interested in: Prednisone for Dogs - Dosage and Side Effects
  1. What is prednisone?
  2. Is prednisone safe for cats?
  3. Prednisone dosage for cats
  4. Side effects of prednisone in cats
  5. Prednisone for cats - precautions and considerations

What is prednisone?

Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid. It is a glucocorticoid, which means it helps the body break down glucose. It also works on the immune system to suppress or decrease inflammation. Prednisolone is the biologically active form of prednisone. This means that for prednisone to take effect, it has to first become prednisolone. This process happens in the liver. If prednisolone is administered, it is directly absorbed. The two substances have minimal differences in their chemical composition. Both have the same effects, and can often be used interchangeably. In cats however, the biologically active prednisolone is often preferred.

Is prednisone safe for cats?

Yes, prednisone can be used for cats. It should only be given under prescription from a veterinarian, and is usually prescribed in small doses to reduce possible side effects. There is some debate as to how well cats can process prednisone into prednisolone. Because of this, and especially if your cat has a weak liver, your vet may prefer the active prednisolone over prednisone. Always consult the vet before giving your cat either of these drugs.

What is prednisone used for in cats?

Prednisone is mainly used as an immunosuppressant in cats. This means it works to counteract the immune system's inflammatory reaction to different acute and chronic diseases. Suppressing the immune system may not sound like a good thing, but in fact it means that prednisone is useful in treating autoimmune diseases in cats, such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA). It is also used to treat external swelling and allergies in cats or anaphylactic shock. In addition, it can be prescribed to control internal inflammations caused by different diseases.

Prednisone or prednisolone is usually for prescribed short-term relief, but may also be given longer-term for cats suffering from chronic diseases. In such cases, rather the curing the disease, prednisone acts as a steroid treatment that helps control symptoms and reduce pain or discomfort. This means that it is often prescribed along with other medications. Prednisone is also know to help cats with cancers such as lymphoma. It may be prescribed alone or together with other treatment options as chemotherapy.

Prednisone dosage for cats

Prednisolone for cats should only be prescribed by a veterinarian. It can be administered in three different ways:

  • Orally
  • By injection
  • Intravenously

The oral method is the easiest and most comfortable way to give a cat prednisone, as you can do this at home yourself. It is usually given at night, but your vet will give you specific instructions.

The dosage of prednisone for your cat can only be determined by a vet, and will be tailored to each cat's specific needs. The duration of the treatment will also depend on this professional assessment. Studies carried out suggest dosages of prednisone for cats that range from 0.5 mg to 4 mg per day per kilogram of the cat's weight. Of course, these are only general parameters. The veterinarian will choose the most appropriate dose for your cat.

When prednisone or prednisolone is used for long-term treatment in cats, a minimum dose is usually recommended. This is to reduce the possible side effects, while still treating the disease effectively. Increasing or decreasing in a cat's prednisone dosage should only be carried out as and when prescribed by a veterinarian.

Prednisone for Cats - Dosage and Side Effects - Prednisone dosage for cats

Side effects of prednisone in cats

Normally, if prednisone is used only when needed and following a professional's instructions, it should have no severe adverse effects on your cat. However, prolonged treatment with prednisone can have possible side effects. Here are some of the most common side effects associated with long-term prednisone use in cats:

  • Frequent urination
  • Increased food and water intake
  • Mood changes
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Delayed healing of wounds
  • Cushing's syndrome

On the other hand, because of the way prednisone acts on the adrenal glands, suddenly stopping the treatment could cause adrenal failure in the cat. That is why it is recommended to only gradually withdraw prednisone following long-term treatment.

Prednisone for Cats - Dosage and Side Effects - Side effects of prednisone in cats

Prednisone for cats - precautions and considerations

As we explained, prednisone has an immunosuppressive effect, which means in can interfere with a cat's immune system and resistance to diseases. Therefore, prednisone/prednisolone should be avoided or used with caution in cats with the following conditions:

  • Advanced age
  • Malnutrition
  • Hypertension
  • Viral or fungal diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Cushing's syndrome
  • Heart or kidney problems
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Glaucoma or corneal ulcers

In addition, a cat receiving prednisone treatment should not be vaccinated while taking the drug or for two weeks after the treatment is stopped. Pregnant cats should not be given prednisone as it can cause fetal malformation, abortion or premature births. It is also not advised for female cats during breastfeeding.

As always, prednisone or prednisolone for cats should only be used following professional guidance and under strict veterinary control.

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 Prednisone for Cats - Dosage and Side Effects, we recommend you visit our Medicine category.

  • González, JL, Moral, Y., Domínguez, S. and Agredano, L. 2015. Therapeutic approach to skin autoimmune diseases in dogs and cats . Veterinary Portal
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Prednisone for Cats - Dosage and Side Effects