Prednisone For Dogs: Side Effects, Dosage, And Alternatives – Relievet

Prednisone For Dogs: Side Effects, Dosage, And Alternatives

Molly Weinfurter - April 14th 2021

Accuracy Review & Edit: Nicole Wanner, DVM - August 28th 2021
dosage-of-prednisone-for-dogs-side-effects

If your dog is suffering from irritation, inflammation, or even severe disease, your vet might recommend a drug called Prednisone.

This blog will explore the potential uses, side effects, dosage, and natural alternatives to Prednisone for dogs.   

Table Of Contents

  • What is prednisone?
  • Prednisone vs. Prednisolone
  • What is prednisone used for in dogs?
  • Dosage of prednisone for dogs
  • Types of prednisone
  • Prednisone for dogs side effects
  • Is it safe for dogs?
  • Are there any drug interactions?
  • Cost
  • Are there any prednisone alternatives for dogs?

What is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a synthetic corticosteroid (steroid) used to treat various conditions in both humans and animals. It’s primarily used as an anti-inflammatory drug for dogs with allergies, irritation, infections, pain, and even cancer.

Prednisone vs. Prednisolone

The terms Prednisone and prednisolone are sometimes used interchangeably. They can both be used for the same conditions but are not the same.

Prednisolone is the active metabolite of Prednisone. It goes into effect as soon as it crosses the cell membrane of your dog’s body.

Prednisone is a cortisone derivative that will metabolize into prednisolone in the liver. It needs to be in the active form to cross the cell membrane and function properly. It can still be prescribed like prednisolone, but the dosage may differ.

What is Prednisone used for in dogs?

Prednisone for dogs is primarily used for emergencies or anti-inflammatory diseases. 

Prednisone will often be given to dogs suffering from the following conditions:

  • Itching
  • Inflammation
  • Allergies
  • Ear infections
  • Pain
  • Cancer
  • Addison’s disease

There are many other situations in which prednisone can be prescribed, so this list is not exhaustive.

Dosage of Prednisone for dogs

The dosage for Prednisone depends on what condition your dog has, how much they weigh, and what type of Prednisone you’re using. 

An ideal dosage would be 0.5 milligrams per pound of body weight each day for anti-inflammatory effects. But if you need to suppress your dog’s immune system, you should give 1 milligram per pound. The chart below calculates the average dosages using this information. 

Weight (lbs)Daily Dosage (mg)
10
5-10
20
10-20
3015-30
4020-40
5025-50
6030-60
7035-70
8040-80
9045-90
10050-100

Prednisone should only be given to your dog for a few days before they’re weaned off of it. Some vets might even recommend giving it every other day or every few days instead to lessen the risks. 

Types of Prednisone

Prednisone isn’t always given in the same form. There are a few different options that could be recommended for dogs.

Most commonly, Prednisone will be given to your dog as an oral tablet or liquid. The pills most commonly come in 10 mg to 20 mg tablets, while the liquid comes in 10 mL to 60 mL bottles. You can distribute both of these types with your dog’s food.

In some cases, your vet might administer the medicine as an injection. If the inflammation is around your dog’s eyes, you can opt to use prednisone eye drops for dogs instead. These more obscure options will have different dosages, so listen closely to what your vet advises.

All forms of this medicine will start working within one or two hours. So, you should start noticing improvements shortly after using it.  

Prednisone for dogs side effects

Prednisone, like other steroids, can have side effects after use. Some minor side effects are quite common and will go away after your dog stops taking the drug. If your dog is taking the medication for longer periods or in higher doses, the side effects might be more severe.

Common side effects

  • Drinking more often
  • More frequent urination
  • Larger appetite

Serious side effects

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Increased risk of infection
  • Behavior changes
  • Diabetes
  • Cushing’s disease

Is it safe for dogs?

Yes, Prednisone is safe for dogs, but like any medication, there are risks involved. Don’t use it for dogs who are allergic to it or dogs with viral infections, ulcers, tuberculosis, Cushing’s disease, or systemic fungal infections (unless it’s being used to treat Addison’s disease).

Use the drug with caution for dogs with diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, cataracts, high blood pressure, or kidney disease. It should only be used in emergencies for younger animals and pregnant animals because it can stunt growth or cause ulcers.

If you need to use Prednisone for your dog, always follow your vet’s instructions closely. Never abruptly stop the medication, but instead, slowly transition off of it.  

Are there any drug interactions?

The following medications could be dangerous if used with Prednisone or prednisolone: 

  • Amphotericin B
  • Anticholinesterase
  • Aspirin
  • Barbiturates
  • Bupropion
  • CBD
  • Cholestyramine
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Cyclosporine
  • Digoxin
  • Ephedrine
  • Estrogens
  • Insulin
  • Ketoconazole
  • Macrolide antibiotics
  • Mycophenolate
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs),
  • Phenobarbital
  • Rifampin
  • Warfarin

To avoid any complications, discuss your dog’s medications with your vet beforehand. This drug isn’t generally considered dangerous for dogs, but it can be if not used carefully.

Cost

The Prednisone cost for dogs depends on the type you use, the amount you need, and where you purchase it. Prednisone tablets usually come in 1-milligram to 50-milligram tablets. You can buy as many pills as your dog needs.

10 and 20 milligrams are the most common, so those are the prices you’ll likely see. One 10-milligram tablet will probably cost you between $0.15 and $0.30. A 20-milligram tablet will cost you between $0.17 to $0.32.

If you want a liquid version instead, it will likely cost you more. Liquid Prednisone comes in larger bottles and can’t be purchased in individual doses. So, even the smallest bottles (15 milliliters) will cost you at least $15. It’s more common to find 30 milliliters or more, which would be $30 and up.

Prednisone Alternatives for Dogs

Licorice: Interestingly, licorice has properties that work like steroids, although not as effective, but does not have many side effects. Medicinal licorice root is often used to treat swelling, itching, and digestive problems in otherwise healthy dogs. The candy licorice will not harm your dog, but the added ingredients are not suitable for long-term health.

Coconut Oil: Coconut oil can help improve your dog's irritations. Coconut oil has natural antibiotic effects, and it may help reduce a mild infection caused by allergies. Coconut oil also has a lot of antioxidants, which will moisturize your dog's skin. The itching and irritation may be because the skin is too dry, so using coconut oil will provide relief. Coconut oil also has medium-chain fatty acids, which help improve arthritis symptoms.

Fish Oil: This supplement can help reduce inflammation and itching. The best fish oil to take contains a high level of omega-3 fatty acids, like those found in cold-water fish. Your dog needs omega-3 fatty acids to be healthy.

Turmeric: This spice has been used for thousands of years to fight inflammation caused by arthritis, cancer, pain relief, and skin allergies. You can purchase Turmeric in powder, liquid, or tablet form.

CBD oil for dogs with Arthritis: CBD oil has been shown in some studies and clinical trials to help dogs with arthritis. The studies were small, but the CBD oil helped the dogs. A 2018 clinical trial gave dogs with osteoarthritis 2mg/kg of CBD twice a day, and the dogs' comfort and activity improved.

CBD oil may help your dog battle pain, stiffness, and swelling in the joints and maintain healthy skin conditions. This will help them feel better and live more comfortably.

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Accuracy Review by:
Dr. Nicole Wanner is a veterinarian and published scientific researcher. She studies the effects of CBD as a Ph.D. candidate.