Prednisone for Dogs - Dosage and Side Effects

María Besteiros
By María Besteiros, Expert veterinary assistant and canine/feline hairdresser.. February 21, 2019
Prednisone for Dogs - Dosage and Side Effects

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You may be familiar with prednisone as a drug for various human ailments. It has been used for everything from headaches and autoimmune diseases to heart failure and cancer. The dosage and side effects are specific to the individual clinical picture. While not all human-use drugs are appropriate for veterinary medicine, prednisone is something which dogs may be prescribed by a veterinarian. This doesn't mean the effects and uses are exactly the same, but that's why AnimalWised is here. We look into prednisone for dogs and pay particular attention to dosage and side effects of the drug.

You may also be interested in: Prednisone for Cats - Dosage and Side Effects
  1. How does prednisone in dogs work?
  2. What is prednisone used for in dogs?
  3. Recommended dose of prednisone in dogs
  4. Side effects of prednisone in dogs
  5. Considerations about the use of prednisone for dogs

How does prednisone in dogs work?

Prednisone is a medication which is commonly used to decrease inflammatory reactions in the body and diseases which affect the immune system. The drug has an immunosuppressive affect. This means it is able to interrupt the processes which the immune system engages to react against disease. One example is canine immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, by which the destruction of red blood cells occurs.

The name of the drug most commonly prescribed for pets is prednisolone which contains prednisone as its active ingredient. After prednisone is processed by the liver, it suppresses the activity of the immune system. In turn, this decreases the ability of blood cells to self-destruct. This action means the drug controls these symptoms of a disease, but it does not work as a cure for the underlying pathology. This is one of the reasons why we should never self-prescribe prednisone for our dogs. Only a veterinarian will be able to properly diagnose and treat the problem.

The immunosuppressive effect of prednisone means it is not suitable for certain medical problems with your dog. If they are suffering from a viral or bacterial infection, prednisone will decreased the immune response and the dog will have a more difficult time fighting the disease.

What is prednisone used for in dogs?

Thanks to the action of prednisone in dogs, as explained in the previous section, it is used in various veterinary medical capacities. Of these different purposes, the following stand out:

  • Prednisone for dogs with tumors: as the drug can be used to combat inflammation, it can be used as part of cancer treatment. Tumors are combated in a variety of ways, including surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Prednisone may be used in combination as part of a larger cancer treatment plan.
  • Prednisone for dogs with allergies: in an allergic reaction, the immune system gives an exaggerated response which can lead to inflammation in the form of hives or other swelling of tissue. This response is activated by non-pathogenic allergens such as dust, pollen or food. As prednisone is an immunosuppressant, it can act to quell this exaggerated immune response.
  • Prednisone for dogs with Addison's disease: this is a chronic disease which manifests in the adrenal glands not being able to produce enough corticosteroid hormones. Since prednisone contains glucocorticoid, a type of corticosteroid, it can help with the symptoms of this disease. It affects more female dogs than males[1].
Prednisone for Dogs - Dosage and Side Effects - What is prednisone used for in dogs?

Recommended dose of prednisone in dogs

Prednisolone for dogs, as we have stated, should only be prescribed by the veterinarian. It is a drug which can produce serious side effects (as we will see below), hence the importance of professional assessment of the dog's clinical picture. They can assess the minimum effective dose in each individual case. This will oscillate somewhere between 0.5 to 4 mg of prednisone per kilogram of the dog's weight.

The chosen dose should be adjusted if the treatment plan is prolonged longer than 7 days. After this time, the dog's body will begin a dependence. This means prednisone should be gradually withdrawn by reducing the dose or by giving it on alternate days. If this doesn't happen, it can produce complications such as Addison's disease.

Side effects of prednisone in dogs

If treatment using prednisone in dogs is limited to 2 to 3 days, there should be enough time for the action to take effect (dependent on the severity of the condition) and for there to be no adverse effect on the dog. On the other hand, especially in the case of prolonged treatments, we may begin to identify the following possible side effects:

This symptoms are generally mild and should desist after the cessation of treatment. More serious long-term effects are those which can produce Addison't disease as it causes a hormonal imbalance. Prednisone suppresses the action of the glucocorticoid-producing adrenal glands. If we interrupt the treatment too abruptly, we run the risk that these glucocorticoids are no longer produced leading to Addison's.

Prednisone for Dogs - Dosage and Side Effects - Side effects of prednisone in dogs

Considerations about the use of prednisone for dogs

Finally, if our dog has been prescribed prednisone by a vet, they should ask us to make the following considerations:

  • Prednisolone or prednisone in any form should not be given to pregnant dogs. It can produce abnormalities in the fetuses or even lead to miscarriages.
  • In female dogs during the breastfeeding period, prescription will be at the discretion of the veterinarian.
  • there are several conditions which discourage or prohibit the use of prednisone. These include diabetes, heart disease or gastrointestinal ulcers. This is why is is of the utmost importance to inform the veterinarian of any pre-existing conditions when we take them to the vet as well as if they are currently on any other medication.
  • It is not advisable to give prednisone and vaccinate the dog at the same time.
Prednisone for Dogs - Dosage and Side Effects - Considerations about the use of prednisone for dogs

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 Dogs - Dosage and Side Effects, we recommend you visit our Medicine category.

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My dog recently had an infection in his anal gland. The vet had to sedate him and treat the abcess . He gave him 40mg/ml injection of prednisone sent him home with an antibiotic and pain med. My little guy weighs 17lbs. Is 40mg injection too much for such a small dog?
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Rebekah,

We have to defer to the veterinarian because they have performed the diagnostic tests and understand your dog's specific case. If you think they are giving your dog the wrong treatment, you should seek a second opinion from another vet who can carry out their own tests. Alternatively, speak to your veterinarian and ask them to confirm the treatment.
My dog was diagnosed with a brain tumor (symptoms after several seizures indicated this was most likely the case) and after given Prednisone he was greatly improved from hardly being able to stand, tremors, and confusion. We thought is was curtains for him! Dosage was 20 mg. He still has symptoms but no seizures and at the least able to walk (still shaky but can trot about ok and wag his tail again! Hoping it will prolong his life! He's such a sweet boy (Labrador mix)!
Administrador AnimalWised
Hi Sharon,

Thank you so much for sharing, we hope he responds well to treatment also!
mary wolfe
My dog is lab mix,12+ yrs. old. He is on tramadol and and Carprofen
for arthritis . Can he take prednisone with these drugs.
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Prednisone for Dogs - Dosage and Side Effects