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Prednisone / Prednisolone

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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  • The immune and inflammation systems of pets and people constitute essential safeguards against infections and disease.
  • However, in some situations, inflammation is dangerous and leads to severe damage in tissues and organs.
  • Similarly, the immune system, often for no apparent reason, can attack the body and cause great damage or even death. Many of the resultant medical conditions are called autoimmune diseases.
  • There are a number of drugs available to control inflammation and suppress the immune system in animals and people. Among the most prominent of these are prednisone and prednisolone.
  • These drugs belong to a class of drugs known as glucocorticoids, because they are related to cortisone and they contain glucose in their molecules. These drugs also are related to the steroid hormones normally produced by the adrenal gland.
  • The effects of glucocorticoids can be observed in every organ system and these drugs should not be used except when necessary.
  • Prednisone is rapidly converted in the liver to prednisolone. Except in cases of severe liver disease, the drugs are considered the same (equivalent).
  • Prednisone/prednisolone are anti-inflammatory drugs, which reduce the swelling, pain and redness associated with inflammation.
  • An important effect of these drugs is that at high and very specific doses, the immune system is suppressed.
  • Prednisone is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans and animals.
  • Human formulations: Prelone® (Muro), Key-Pred® (Hyrex), Predalone® (Forest), Predcor® (Hauck), Delta-Cortef® (Upjohn) and various generic preparations
  • Veterinary formulations: Delta-Cortef® (Upjohn), Prednis-Tab® (Vet-A-Mix), Meticorten® (Schering), Solu-Delta-Cortef® (Upjohn), Sterisol® (Anthony), Cortisate-20® (Anthony) and various generic preparations

    Uses of Prednisone/Prednisolone

  • Since prednisone has effects on nearly every body system, the uses of this drug are wide and varied.
  • The drugs prednisone/prednisolone are used to treat allergies, inflammations and autoimmune diseases when the underlying cause cannot be treated or prevented. Examples include treatment of bronchial and lung diseases, skin diseases, intestinal diseases, spinal cord and brain diseases and diseases of the blood.
  • Prednisone is often a supplemental treatment for various cancers.
  • It is required as a supplement in the adrenal gland disorder, Addison's disease (hypoadrenocorticism).
  • It is used as a treatment in bacterial (endotoxic) shock.
  • Prednisone is used to treat a variety of immune system and autoimmune disorders .

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, prednisone can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Prednisone should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Prednisone should be avoided in fungal infections.
  • Prednisone should not be used in pregnant animals, since it can induce labor.
  • Extreme care must be taken when stopping prednisone therapy. If an animal has been on prednisone for an extended period of time, slow weaning off the drug is critical to avoid serious complications.
  • Prednisone may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with prednisone. Such drugs include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories.
  • Adverse effects include increased thirst and appetite, panting, vomiting, restlessness and diarrhea.
  • Some animals may develop stomach ulcers from prednisone use.
  • Long-term use of prednisone may result in loss of hair coat, weakening of the muscles, liver impairment and behavioral changes.

    How Prednisone Is Supplied

  • Prednisone is available in 1 mg, 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 20 mg and 50 mg tablets.
  • Prednisone 3 mg/ml syrup and 1 mg/ml suspension is available.
  • The injectable forms of prednisone vary. Some injectable forms are 20 mg/ml up to 125 mg/ml concentrations.

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • Doses of prednisone vary widely depending on the reason for prescribing.
  • Anti-inflammatory doses range from 0.1 to 0.3 mg per pound (0.2 to 0.6 mg/kg) up to twice daily.
  • Immunosuppressive doses range from 1 to 3 mg per pound (2 to 6 mg/kg) up to three times daily.
  • Doses for various diseases range between 0.1 to 3 mg per pound (0.2 to 6 mg/kg).
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.

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