Prednisone (and Prednisolone, we’ll talk about the difference in just a bit) are FDA approved steroids that are used to reduce inflammation in the body and treat a handful of diseases and illnesses, both for pets and humans alike.
Prednisone should only be given by the right people who know what they are doing (which is, most of the times, your veterinarian) and for just the right amount of time, or else serious prednisone side effects in dogs will take place.
Before you even think about giving your dog prednisone for any reason, you have to read this article to know how to do it the right way, if you care for your dog’s life that is!
Why Would A Vet Prescribe Prednisolone Over Prednisone For Dogs?
If your dog happens to have liver problems , chances are your veterinarian will prescribe Prednisolone for your dog rather than Prednisone.
When dogs take prednisone, it will be converted by their liver into prednisolone.
But, dogs who have liver problems cannot convert prednisone into prednisolone properly, which is why they’re given prednisolone in the first place to skip the need for conversion.
Prednisolone also offers an advantage over prednisone, as it can be taken by an injection or can be applied to your dog’s skin, while prednisone can only be taken orally.
What Is Prednisone Used For In Dogs?
Here are some of the illnesses and diseases Prednisone helps cure your dog from:
- Addison’s disease , where they provide the necessary glucocorticoids for treatment that their bodies can’t manufacture on their own.
- Autoimmune diseases (such as Lupus and AIHA) where the body stops manufacturing antibodies, which leaves the immune system very weak and unable to fight infections
- Nervous system disorders (most importantly of which is the central nervous system disorder)
- Crohn’s disease, (an inflammatory bowel disease)
- Allergic reactions
- Excessive and unhealthy calcium levels in the blood
- Kidney disease
- Skin disease and itchy skin
- Arthritis (Most importantly of which is Rheumatoid Arthritis)
- Shock, thanks to the improved circulation they give to your dog’s body
- Spinal cord damage
- Eye problems, such as redness of the eye, itching, and possible allergic reactions
How Can You Give Your Dog Prednisone?
So, how exactly can dogs take Prednisone?
The answer is, and obviously enough, exactly the way your veterinarian tells you.
Prednisone is often taken by mouth, so you should try to feed your dog something while they take the medicine to avoid having your dog get stomach aches.
Before you even attempt to give Prednisone for your dog, get in contact with your veterinarian about it, and ask them any questions you might have in mind.
What Is The Proper Prednisone Dosage For Dogs?
First off, the exact dosage that your dog should take should be determined by a professional and nothing short of one, or else you risk having your dog develop very serious (and even potentially deadly) side effects.
This is why your veterinarian is your best go-to person in this case.
The exact prednisone dosage dogs should take is determined by many factors, most importantly of which are your dog’s age, size, weight and at what stage the disease in your dog’s body is currently at.
Your veterinarian will also tell you that prednisone should not be given to dogs for more than 7 days straight, because it can lead to dependency in their system. This can cause them to experience withdrawal symptoms and have a harder time weaning off the steroid.
Most of the time, the course of treatment requires you to kick it off at a high dose and slowly decrease it with time.
However, and I’ll say this again due to how important it is, the only person that can give you exact, reliable measures when it comes to Prednisone for dogs dosages and treatment plan is a professional (such as your veterinarian).
Here are some dosage guidelines that should give you a general overview of the big picture:
- Dogs being newly treated from adrenal insufficiency (Addison’s disease) require a dosage of 0.05 – 0.18 mg/lb, once a day, until improvements start to happen. As soon as the issue is under control and improvements start to happen, your veterinarian will require that you slowly start to decrease the dosage, all the way to reach a maintenance level dosage, which can be as small as 0.009 mg/lb.
- Dogs being newly treated from allergies require a starting dose of 0.25 mg/lb once a day, all the way up to 1 mg/lb a day (evenly divided throughout the day) in case improvement is not noticed. Once your canine’s condition improves, you’ll be able to slowly decrease the daily dosage of Prednisone you give them.
Here are some important notes you must always keep in mind when giving your dog Prednisone:
- You must strive to never miss any doses of Prednisone. Set a certain schedule that will make it as easy as possible for you to follow through will the treatment course.
- In case you realized that missed one dose (and please try not to), try to give your dog the dose as soon as possible. The sooner, the better.
- If you realize that you missed a dose too late and it’s almost time for the second dose, skip the dose you missed, don’t try to make up for it and continue with your regular schedule. The last thing you want to do is to give your dog two doses of Prednisone at the same time.
- You should give your dog the Prednisone the same time every day.
After you see significant improvement in your dog’s condition (and your veterinarian confirms the improvement is there), it’s extremely important that you gradually decrease the dosage you give your dog, all the way to a stop, instead of just stopping the treatment all of a sudden and cutting the dosage out of the blue, which will cause Addison’s disease in your dog and put them at a great risk of getting a heart attack.
Signs Of Prednisone Overdose In Dogs
If your dog overdoses on prednisone, you should immediately get them to the closest emergency care center possible.
Dogs are unlikely to overdose on one, big dose of prednisone they take all at once. They are likely to overdose on prednisone if they take big doses over a certain period of time.
Here are some symptoms of prednisone overdose in dogs:
- Weight gain
- Heavy panting
- Increased thirst
- Increased hunger
- Excessive urination
- Cushing’s syndrome .
- Decreased hearing
- Weakness and lethargy
- Increased blood pressure.
When Should Prednisone For Dogs Not Be Given?
Not all dogs are safe to be treated with prednisone.
Here are some of the cases where your’re best off avoiding giving your dog prednisone:
- Prednisone can lead to abortion if given to pregnant dogs
- If your dog is breeding
- If a dog which is less than 6 months of age is given Prednisone, this medicine could be damaging to their body.
- If your dog has an infections, because Prednisone will weaken your dog’s immune system and diminish their ability of fighting the infection
- If your dog has diopathic thrombocytopenic purpura 
- If your dog has diabetes
- If your dog has heart problems
- If your dog has cancer (unless chemotherapy has already begun and you have professional approval to do so)
- If your dog is being treated from a certain illness with vaccines
- If your dog has mites
Here are some of the best practices you can do if you want to start a course of treatment for your dog with prednisone:
- Inform your veterinarian of any medication or supplements your dog currently takes
- Inform your veterinarian of any medical conditions your dog currently suffers from (such as kidney disease liver disease, heart problems, stomach ulcers, hypothyroidism or diabetes)
- Keep the prednisone stored in a firmly closed container at room temperature
If you don’t talk to your veterinarian about current medications
you’re giving your dog, and start a course of treatment with Prednisone without making sure that the two won’t conflict, you risk having your dog contemplate:
- Sleeping difficulties
- Stomache pain
- Fatigue and lethargy.
What Are The Side Effects Of Prednisone In Dogs?
During the course of treatment with prednisone, and if there’s something wrong that needs to be revised, your canine might experience some of the following symptoms (call your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these prednisone side effects in dogs):
- Greatly increased thirst
- Excessive urination
- Weakness and lethargy
- Increased sleeping and decreased physical activity
- Wounds they get require more time to heal
- Increase in apetite
- Changes in some behaviors, such as aggression (these will be very obvious if you know your dog well)
- Short breath
- Blood in stool
- Coughing out blood
- Irregular heartbeat (this is very important for you to notice, because if left untreated it could lead to a heart attack)
- Stomach pain
- Cushing’s disease
- Allergic reactions
- Tongue swelling
- Lips swelling
- Face swelling
- Weight gain
Learn more about the effects of Prednisone on your pup by watching this video!
1. Disorders of the Liver and Gallbladder in Dogs By Sharon A. Center , BS, DVM, DACVIM, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/digestive-disorders-of-dogs/disorders-of-the-liver-and-gallbladder-in-dogs
2. Addison’s Disease https://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/outreach/Pet-Health-Topics/categories/diseases/addison’s-disease
3. An ethicist’s commentary on the dog with Cushing’s syndrome https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3573622/
4. Immune-Mediated Thrombocytopenia (ITP) in Dogs https://www.mspca.org/angell_services/immune-mediated-thrombocytopenia-itp-in-dogs/