Prednisolone, along with one of its closest ‘relatives’, prednisone, belongs to a group of medications known as corticosteroids. These drugs are utilized in the management of inflammation in diseases or various medical conditions where the immune system is greatly involved. Our bodies and those of our furry friends are capable of producing a natural corticosteroid by the name of cortisol, released by the adrenal gland.
Prednisolone has an effect that is approximately four times stronger than that of the cortisol that your dog’s body naturally manufactures.
Let’s look at why prednisolone can be useful, whether it has any side effects, how you should give it to your canine companion, and whether there are any drug interactions.
Corticosteroids, in general, and prednisolone, in particular, can be very useful when it comes to treating many medical conditions. In actuality, these anti-inflammatory drugs don’t cure diseases per se, but given the effect that they have, they can make a difference in a dog’s recovery both in terms of speed and efficiency.
Prednisolone and prednisone can be used to treat various immune system diseases such as thrombocytopenia, lupus, or hemolytic anemia, but also allergic reactions, some orthopedic diseases, hormonal disorders, and they can even make a difference in treating inflammatory bowel diseases or respiratory issues (such as asthma).
Something that many people might not be aware of is that this type of medicine is not approved by the FDA and in order to be able to utilize it, veterinarians often have to use a specialty pharmacy to order it from.
Giving this medication
If you’re wondering how you should give prednisolone to your dog, just listen to your vet’s advice. Naturally, you should never give your dog corticosteroids unless they were prescribed by a medical professional or they have been recommended by one. If you miss a dose, do not try to compensate by doubling the dosage – just try to get back to the correct schedule.
It’s also highly recommended that you give your dog oral prednisolone along with some food so as to vastly reduce the chances of producing a stomach irritation. The regular doses that you should give to your dog should never even come close to those that are used in emergency situations.
Possible side effects
The most important drawback of corticosteroids (and that includes prednisolone) is that they have serious side effects. However, these do not become apparent when it comes to a short-term administration of the medication. The higher the dose and the longer the amount of time that the medication is given, the higher the chance of adverse reactions happening.
Even though short-term use of prednisolone and prednisone rarely causes any adverse effects, you might notice that your dog experiences increased thirst, increased appetite, or an increase in the frequency and volume of urination. Corticosteroids have a negative effect on the immune system, so when they are administered for longer periods, they can cause symptoms such as fever or even infection.
Long-term administration can cause serious side effects such as Cushing’s disease, hair loss, a dry hair coat, or the development of a pot belly. Some dogs can become aggressive while they are on the treatment.
As prednisolone and prednisone are corticosteroids and can have various effects on us, humans, too (and they are even used in human medicine, as well), they should be kept out of the reach of children. They are prescription drugs, and they need to be utilized precisely how your veterinarian instructed you to use them.
Don’t decide to cease the administration of the drug without seeking out the advice of your vet first. If your dog has been receiving significant doses of corticosteroids for quite some time, taking him off could cause life-threatening issues. If you and your vet have concluded that it is time for you to take your dog off the meds, you can do so gradually and only by following your vet’s advice.
A well-known effect that prednisolone has is that it suppresses the body’s immune response. As such, for the duration of the treatment, your dog might become more exposed to bacterial and viral infections that he/she would otherwise not be susceptible to. Since prednisolone is an anti-inflammatory that can also mask signs of infection, you might not even be aware of the fact that your dog could have an elevated temperature.
It should also be noted that this type of medication is not recommended to young animals as the immune suppression risk is too high and the likelihood of a GI ulcer or infection happening is high, as well. Lactating or pregnant female dogs should also be given alternative treatments, but there are situations in which the benefits of the treatment could outweigh the risks.
Although there aren’t many other drugs that could cause interactions with prednisolone and prednisone, there are some, and we do feel compelled to note them here. They are aspirin, phenobarbital, rifampin, cyclosporine, mitotane, erythromycin, some diuretics (furosemide), and some anticholinesterase drugs.
It appears that the risk of causing a stomach ulcer in your dog is increased by the administration of corticosteroids and NSAIDs at the same time. Long-term use of prednisone and prednisolone could potentially lead to diabetes, so it is important to keep tabs on the insulin level of diabetic animals if they have to take corticosteroids.
Prednisolone is an anti-inflammatory drug that should be used with care. It is a prescription medication, and you should always abide by your vet’s recommendations in terms of dosage and length of the treatment.
It does have several side effects, but it can also improve a dog’s condition especially in some issues such as skin diseases, allergic reactions, immune diseases, and various nervous system disorders.
It even works on asthma patients and those that have inflammatory bowel diseases. In general, if the medical problem isn’t chronic and requires less care, corticosteroids (prednisolone included) should be given for a period of no more than 7 days. Long-term use should always be monitored closely.