Understanding the Side Effects of Prednisone in Dogs to Protect Your Pup

side effects of prednisone in dogs

Conditions associated with inflammation, including dog arthritis, infections of the urinary tract, and gastrointestinal issues, are connected to intense itching, persistent pain, and several other symptoms that cause discomfort.

Thanks to advancements in veterinary medicine, there are medications that help treat inflammation. The most common option is Prednisone or prednisolone, which is clinically not the same drug and classified as corticosteroid drugs.

But before opting for this steroid medication, it’s essential to understand the side effects of Prednisone in dogs to ensure you are not risking your dog’s life.

What is prednisolone/Prednisone?

Prednisone is a powerful steroid medication that can be used to treat inflammation. At extremely high doses, this drug acts as an immune suppressant.

However, animals receiving Prednisone for long periods tend to experience severe side effects like tooth breakdown, acid reflux, autoimmune diseases etc.

Prednisone for dogs can help fix many canine medical conditions and emergencies like anaphylactic reactions, spinal cord trauma, etc.

Also, Prednisone is part of the veterinary medicine used in replacement therapy when treating Addison’s disease and other endocrine disorders and antineoplastic treatment.

Is Prednisolone Safe for Dogs?

Prednisone and prednisolone are two distinct drugs. The dog’s liver converts Prednisone into prednisolone. This explains why it’s commonly used interchangeably.

However, veterinarians often prescribe prednisolone to dogs with liver dysfunction to avoid stressing the organ.

The FDA has approved both drugs for canine use. They are synthetic corticosteroids. And, within veterinary medicine, this is an acceptable practice. Keep in mind you can only purchase them with a vet’s prescription.

More importantly, a dog’s response to Prednisone can be pretty different. So, there’s no telling what adverse reaction to expect. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to keep prednisone treatment short and in small dosage to avoid serious side effects like excessive thirst, stomach upset, etc.

What is the correct prednisone dose for dogs?

As stated earlier, Prednisone is an off-label drug, meaning you need a vet to prescribe it and determine the dosage. You cannot administer this drug discretionarily.

The correct dose of Prednisone for your canine friend will depend on his medical condition and weight.

In most cases, this steroid med is administered orally – tablet or liquid forms with food to prevent an upset stomach. If the prescribed prednisone dosage is once per day, then it’s best pet take it very early in the morning.

It’s important to stick to strict time intervals for two or more daily for two or more daily. It’s okay to forget once in a while. Still, remember to administer it immediately, except if it overlaps with the next dose.

Another form of Prednisone is a topical cream, perfect for dogs with skin diseases such as dermatitis. Also, your vet may suggest your pet take Prednisone as an injection for more severe health issues like Addison’s disease and anaphylactic shock.

Within a couple of hours, you should notice a significant improvement in your dog’s condition. While this steroid med only works for 24 hours, pets with liver and kidney disease will experience the side effects of Prednisone for longer.

You want to check in with your vet first before you stop administering the drug. It’s essential to stick to the prescription and remember the Prednisone taper, a reduced dosage every 3 – 7 days, to allow your dog’s body to adjust to the lower doses of this drug.

What are the side effects of Prednisone in dogs?

Increased thirst, increased appetite, and increased urination are the most common side effects of taking Prednisone.

During prolonged treatment in higher doses, when treating autoimmune diseases such as Immune-Mediated Skin Diseases, the side effects may include vomiting, panting, diarrhea, and aggressive behavior.

Other adverse effects of Prednisone include:

  • Hair loss or dry hair
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abdominal distension
  • Lipid elevation
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Weight gain

The potential risk of Prednisone

Avoid Prednisone if your dog is suffering systemic fungal infections, viral infections, Cushing’s disease, stomach ulcers, or tuberculosis. Dogs with Addison’s disease can still benefit from this steroid med.

Also, it may be unsafe for pets dealing with kidney disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, cataracts, and other infection-related health issues.

Furthermore, dogs undergoing allergy testing or about to should not be taking Prednisone. It’s crucial not for pets with liver disease or dysfunction to receive prednisolone to avoid complications.

Pregnant or lactating dogs should not be given this product, except the benefits outweigh the risk.

Adhere to the vet’s prescription, as stopping their medication abruptly, especially for canines that have been on high doses for an extended period, can lead to costly consequences.

Prednisone drug interactions you need to know

Several studies have shown that Prednisone has potential drug interactions with certain medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), cholestyramine, insulin, aspirin, barbiturates, or macrolide antibiotics.

Prednisone for dogs may influence laboratory tests like allergy tests, urine glucose, thyroid and cholesterol levels.

Prednisone for dogs: Related FAQs

What to do if my dogs overdose on Prednisone?

If you notice anxiety, seizures, hearing loss, or itching, then it’s like your dog is overdosed. Contact the Animal Poison Control Center or your vet immediately. Also, take the drug’s prescription container when treating your canine friend. To avoid accidental overdose, keep the product away from pets and kids’ reach, especially if it’s in liquid form.

What are the most common side effects of Prednisone in dogs?

Prednisone’s most common side effects in dogs may include weight gain, increased appetite, and increased thirst. These side effects are often observed when dogs are on higher doses or extended courses of Prednisone.

Can Prednisone affect the adrenal glands in dogs?

Yes, Prednisone is a synthetic glucocorticoid that can impact the adrenal glands in dogs. Prednisone and prednisolone act as anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drugs that perfectly mimic the hormone cortisol. Prolonged use of Prednisone may suppress the normal functioning of the adrenal glands, leading to a condition called adrenal insufficiency or Addison’s disease.

How long do the side effects of Prednisone last?

After prednisone treatment, the side effects of this medication, like increased drinking and increased appetite, may last about a week for most dogs.


Dogs are given Prednisone to reduce inflammation and treat inflammation-related health issues. These products help treat immune system conditions by providing steroid hormones as a replacement.

Despite its quick relief action, the side effects can be discomforting. Prednisone can lead to excessive panting, diarrhea, etc. Using the right dose at regular intervals is vital to avoid complications.

It’s crucial that you don’t end the medication without consulting your vet. You don’t want to put your dog’s life at risk.

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