Prednisone / Prednisolone for Dogs and Cats
Prednisone and Prednisolone are corticosteroid drugs commonly used to treat allergies, inflammations, autoimmune diseases, and cancers when the underlying cause cannot be treated or prevented in dogs and cats. Prednisone is converted to prednisolone in dogs, but not as well in cats, therefore Prednisolone is preferred in cats.
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 are also 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.
Brand Names of Prednisone/Prednisolone
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.
Prednisone is available in 1 milligram, 2.5 milligram, 5 milligram, 10 milligram, 20 milligram, and 50 milligram tablets. Prednisone 3 milligram/milliliter syrup and 1 milligram/milliliter suspension are available.
The injectable forms of prednisone vary. Some injectable forms are 20 milligram/milliliter up to 125 milligram/milliliter concentrations.
Uses of Prednisone/Prednisolone for Dogs and Cats
Since prednisone has effects on nearly every body system, the uses of this drug are wide and varied. Prednisone/prednisolone may be used to treat or supplement treatment for any of the following:
- Lung diseases
- Skin diseases
- Intestinal diseases
- Spinal cord and brain diseases
- Blood disease
- Various cancers
- Addison’s disease
- Bacterial shock
Potential Side Effects of Prednisone/Prednisolone for Dogs and Cats
While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, prednisone can cause side effects in some animals. Adverse effects include increased thirst and appetite, panting, vomiting, restlessness, and diarrhea. Some animals may develop stomach ulcers from prednisone use. Long-term use may result in loss of hair coat, weakening of the muscles, liver impairment, and behavioral changes.
The following types of cats and dogs should avoid taking prednisone:
- Animals with known hypersensitivities or allergies to the drug
- Animals with fungal infections
- Pregnant animals
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 drugs, phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifampin, estrogens, diuretics, cyclosporine, cyclophosphamide, ephedrine, aspirin, amphotericin B, and vaccines.
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.
Dosing Information of Prednisone/Prednisolone for Dogs and Cats
Doses of prednisone and prednisolone in dogs and cats vary widely depending on the reason for prescribing. The goal of dosing prednisone and prednisolone is to use what is needed for the shortest period of time possible.
In both dogs and cats, anti-inflammatory doses range from 0.1 to 0.3 milligram per pound (0.2 to 0.6 milligram/kilogram) up to twice daily. Immunosuppressive doses range from 1 to 3 milligram per pound (2 to 6 milligram/kilogram) up to three times daily. Doses for treating other diseases range between 0.1 to 3 milligrams per pound (0.2 to 6 milligrams/kilogram).
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.
Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.