Truth Behind the Benefits of Steroids in DogsSteroids are substances that circulate in the blood stream and affect almost every part of the body. Many steroids are made by the adrenal glands. The outer part of the adrenal glands the adrenal cortex releases and regulates three groups of steroids:. The inside of the adrenal glands the adrenal medulla releases and regulates epinephrine adrenaline and side effects of stopping steroids in dogs noradrenalinewhich are critical to the response to stress and regulation of blood sugar. These steroids increase heart rate, cardiac output, blood pressure and metabolism and slow the movement of food through the digestive tract. Most steroids suppress inflammation side effects of stopping steroids in dogs reducing heat, redness, swelling, tenderness and pain.
Steroids and Dogs | Benefits & Potential SIde Effects
Corticosteroids commonly referred to as steroids or cortisone are a class of steroid hormones that are produced in the adrenal glands. Corticosteroids are involved in a wide range activity in the body, including the stress response, immune system response, control of inflammation, nutrient metabolism, and maintenance of blood electrolyte levels. Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, corticosteroids are a valuable class of medications.
They are commonly used to treat mild inflammatory conditions, or to suppress the inflammation associated with an allergic response.
When administered in high doses, they act as immunosuppressant drugs. Most forms of corticosteroids that are prescribed are synthetic, and include prednisone , prednisolone , dexamethasone , triamcinolone , and methylprednisolone.
These synthetic forms of corticosteroids are many times more potent than the naturally occurring forms and typically last much longer.
Because of their increased potency and duration of activity, if synthetic corticosteroids are used, the patient must be carefully monitored to minimize the risks of serious side effects. For decades, this class of drugs has benefited humans and animals. They are a vital part of the treatment protocol for many life-threatening diseases. Their benefits far outweigh any risks in the majority of cases. When used properly, very few side effects occur. Corticosteroids may have both short term and long term side effects that cause different problems in your pet.
It is easier to discuss these side effects as either short-term or long-term side effects. Short-term side effects are those that we expect a pet to experience when initially placed on corticosteroids. These side effects depend both on the type of steroid prescribed and on the dosage administered, and include:. Some pre-diabetic dogs may become diabetic with corticosteroid usage.
In many of these cases, the diabetes resolves once the steroid is discontinued. If any of these side effects occur, they can often be eliminated by lowering the dosage or frequency of administration. In some cases, your veterinarian may prescribe another type of corticosteroid in an attempt to reduce the side effects.
The objective is to determine the lowest dose of medication that controls the condition with the least number of side effects. Some diseases and medical conditions require long-term treatment with corticosteroids, at either an anti-inflammatory dose or an immunosuppressive dose. When corticosteroids will be used for more than three to four months, particularly at immunosuppressive doses, additional side effects become a concern.
The most commonly seen long-term side effects include:. An excessive level of corticosteroids may cause Cushing's disease. When a pet is on long-term, high doses of glucocorticoids, there is an increased risk that it will develop a condition called iatrogenic medication induced Cushing's disease.
The clinical signs of Cushing's disease include increased thirst and urination, an increase in UTI's and skin and ear infections, a "pot-bellied" appearance, thinning skin and hair loss. In the treatment of some diseases, the risk of iatrogenic Cushing's disease is unavoidable.
To minimize this risk, corticosteroid doses are tapered down over time, or several different drugs may be used in combination. Fortunately, most dogs can safely use corticosteroids if a few simple guidelines are followed, such as:. Corticosteroids can be life-saving medications and improve the quality of life for many dogs. By working closely with your veterinarian, you can safely administer these drugs and provide your dog with the high quality of care he needs and deserves.
If you have any questions or concerns about your dog's medications, please call us. Corticosteroids are involved in a wide range of activities in the body, including the stress response, immune system response and control of inflammation, nutrient metabolism, and maintenance of blood electrolyte levels. Your cat has been diagnosed with feline asthma, and will require long-term medication for this condition, possibly for life.
It is important that you follow the appropriate instructions for this treatment. Find the nearest location to: What can we dig up for you? The adrenal glands produce two forms of corticosteroids: Glucocorticoids such as cortisol control carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism and reduce inflammation through several different mechanisms.
Mineralocorticoids such as aldosterone control electrolyte and total body water levels, primarily by causing sodium retention in the kidneys. Why are corticosteroids prescribed? What side effects can corticosteroids cause? What are some of the short-term side effects? These side effects depend both on the type of steroid prescribed and on the dosage administered, and include: Increased thirst and urination Increased hunger Panting especially dogs General loss of energy Development or worsening of infections especially bacterial skin infections Vomiting or nausea less common Some pre-diabetic dogs may become diabetic with corticosteroid usage.
What are some of the more common long-term side effects? The most commonly seen long-term side effects include: Monitoring for the development of UTI is achieved by performing periodic urine cultures. A patient receiving steroids will not experience the usual symptoms of urinary tract infection because the steroid will suppress the inflammation and discomfort commonly associated with a UTI.
In many cases, a urine culture may be the only way to detect the infection. These plaques are the result of calcium deposition in the skin.
Predisposition to diabetes mellitus I've been told that corticosteroids can cause Cushing's disease. How do I reduce the risk of any of these side effects in my dog? Fortunately, most dogs can safely use corticosteroids if a few simple guidelines are followed, such as: Only life-threatening immune-mediated diseases require long-term daily steroid use. Most corticosteroid protocols require daily use only during the initial treatment phase.
If your dog is receiving corticosteroids to reduce itching or for musculoskeletal pain, you should strive to administer them every other day. If you feel your pet requires daily corticosteroid use, inform your veterinarian, who may recommend an additional or alternative treatment combination.
If your dog requires more than three to four months of corticosteroid usage, the condition should be re-evaluated or other treatment options should be pursued.
Dogs on long-term corticosteroids should be monitored with quarterly examinations and with urine cultures and blood tests every six months. This client information sheet is based on material written by: Steroid Treatment - Long-Term Effects in Cats Corticosteroids commonly referred to as steroids or cortisone are a class of steroid hormones that are produced in the adrenal glands.