Long term use of Prednisone in pets

An owner holds her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

One of the more commonly prescribed drugs in veterinary medicine is the drug Prednisone. The most common use of this medication is as an anti-inflammatory agent used in a wide variety of  chronic diseases, including:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Skin/ear allergies
  • Respiratory disease
  • Asthma
  • Neurologic disorders

Prednisone has also been used as an immune suppressive agent in immune mediated disorders of the body, as well as part of many chemotherapy protocols.

How long can my dog or cat stay on Prednisone?

When used appropriately, short-term use of Prednisone does not have a lot of side effects in animals; however, when used long- term, there are increased risks of toxicity and side effects.

What are the side-effects of Prednisone in dogs and cats?

Common side effects include increased thirst/urination, appetite and respiratory rate, as well as changes in behavior from lethargy to hyperexcitability. Secondary organ problems of the pancreas (including diabetes and pancreatitis), liver and adrenal glands may occur as well as thinning of the bone and skin. In addition, secondary viral and/or bacterial infections in any organ system may occur, especially of the urinary tract and skin. In some sensitive pets, gastrointestinal erosion and ulceration may occur, leading to bleeding and possibly anemia.

Whenever a pet is on long-term Prednisone, it is always worthwhile asking about other alternative drugs, including other anti-inflammatory agents, including antihistamines, as well as other immune suppressive agents such as cyclosporine. Herbal remedies such as licorice may also be helpful in some cases.

Most pets, however, can be maintained on chronic low-dose alternate day Prednisone therapy for a long time, as long as periodic veterinary exams and labwork are done to detect any possible side effects.

Have pet health questions? For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form.

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477 Comments

  1. Hi Clare and thanks for your inquiry. We always recommend you consult with your vet, but for non-emergency questions, you can use our Ask the Vet form. Wishing the best of health for your dog!
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

  2. Hello…my 8 yr old yorkie has been on 1/2 of a Temiral-P for 20 months for collapsing treachea. It works very well but recently muscle wasting has began and it is happening quite rapidly. Stridor is evident and is getting louder. Skin is thinning and she lays around alot more. Early on,we tried an inhaler that didn’t seem,to do as well as the Temiral-P. We even tried Stanozalol because of a study done that gave very positive results that actually cured…yes I said cured… over 2/3 of the pups ranging from grade 1-3. The study can be found on the internet and it’s worth a read by any vet dealing with this. Anyway it made her so aggressive that I didn’t finish it. I was thinking about trying again but now the muscle wasting is so bad. CBC’s have been and are done every 1-2 months and always come out with good numbers., Dr. said to cut the dosage in half right of the bat with no tapering needed because the dosage of Prednisolone is so low 1mg. a day This is my concern, 1mg a day to a 8lb dog for 20 months is the same as 25mg a day for a 200lb person for 20 months. Just cutting that in half will not cause a possible Addisonian crisis. I read about this somewhere. We have a lab that will prepare a capsule that’s .25mg that I could give her along with 1/4 of a Temiral-P that would cut her back by 1/4 a day for a bit then go to the 1/2 Mark. What are your thoughts

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