How safe is prednisone for allergy treatment?

 |  Mar 18th 2008  |   0 Contributions


My Lhasa Apsos have allergies and have been tested.
I tried Atopica with no luck and it was expensive.
My vet said that giving my dogs predisone every
other day would not hurt them. Your thoughts
please.

Janeen
Mililani, HI

Allergies are frustrating, to be sure. Just ask anyone who suffers from hay fever. Allergies can make you miserable, and, for now, they cannot be cured. People actually move across the country to try to escape from their allergies. That is part of the reason why Arizona's population has grown so rapidly in recent decades.

In pets, allergies usually cause skin problems such as hair loss, red skin, and itching. Ear infections also are common.

As I have mentioned, at the current time there is no cure for allergies. But there are several treatments. Some, such as flea control, soothing baths, omega-3 supplements, and hypoallergenic diets are simple and safe, and should be considered in every pet with allergies.

Others treatments, such as antihistamines, are generally safe, but not always effective. They are appropriate for some, but not all, allergy sufferers.

And then there are the bigger guns: allergy testing, followed by allergy shots, may help some pets. You mentioned that you have gone down this road without success. Genesis is a topical spray that significantly helps some pets. Atopica is another potent allergy treatment. It is expensive and generally effective, but it does not work in every pet.

Finally, there is the biggest gun of them all: prednisone. Prednisone is an anti-inflammatory steroid that is related to cortisone. It is simultaneously the best and the worst drug ever invented. No drug is more effective at treating allergies in pets. But prednisone also can cause a large number of side effects.

Pets who take prednisone long-term may suffer increased thirst, increased urination, weight gain, and personality changes. They may develop bladder or sinus infections. They are at risk of liver damage and diabetes.

However, not every pet who takes long-term prednisone suffers from these issues. Some pets can take prednisone for years without developing any problems. Others cannot tolerate the medicine for even a week.

So, to answer your question (finally): it may be safe for your dogs to take prednisone every other day. Or it may not. It depends on your dogs.

Here is what I recommend you do. First, exhaust all of the other treatment options that I have mentioned above, and make sure that none of them works.

If it turns out that only prednisone can make your dogs comfortable, then use it. But use the minimum effective dose. Monitor for the side effects that I mentioned above. And, very importantly, run comprehensive blood and urine tests every three to six months to ensure that the medicine is not having adverse internal effects in your dogs.

Finally, remember that some pets outgrow allergies over time. It may be worth your while to experiment (under the supervision of your veterinarian) with reducing or eliminating their prednisone doses periodically.

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