Prednisone for dogs is a corticosteroid used as an immunosuppressant drug to treat a number of dog illnesses. This makes prednisone an effective treatment option for autoimmune diseases, which are caused by an overactive immune system attacking different systems and organs in the body. Unfortunately, prednisone can be a “necessary evil” for those of us who prefer a more natural approach. In spite of the many uses of prednisone, excessive and/or long-term use of prednisone for your dog can cause side effects, ranging from mild to severe.
What canine conditions is Prednisone generally prescribed for?
- Excessive itching
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Autoimmune disease
- Spinal cord injuries
- Kidney disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Crohn’s disease
- Addison’s disease
Like all drugs, the benefits of prednisone are generally accompanied by side effects and it should therefore not generally be considered as a long-term solution to your dog’s problem or symptom.
Potential adverse side effects of Prednisone for dogs
- Excessive thirst and hunger
- Gastrointestinal disorders: diarrhea, vomiting, stomach ulcers, and general gastrointestinal discomfort
- Joint inflammation
- Eye diseases: poor eyesight, glaucoma and cataracts
- Muscle wasting and fatigue
- Behavioral changes
- Skin, hair and coat problems
- Canine Cushing’s Disease
Management and treatment of prednisone side effects
If your veterinarian has prescribed Prednisone for your dog, you may want to consider the following options to try to reduce the negative side-effects of the drug on your dog:
- Reduce duration: Short-term use of prednisone
- Use natural supplements (see below for specific suggestions)
- Add probiotics to your dog’s food to combat gastrointestinal disorders
- Add fish oil to your dog’s food to reduce joint inflammation and support skin and coat health
Alternative to Prednisone
Depending on the condition, there may be alternatives to using Prednisone. Generally speaking, the conditions associated with use of Prednisone have to do with an increase in an inflammatory response.
Below are some natural remedy alternatives to reduce inflammatory conditions:
- Try a diet that eliminates food allergies. Reducing or removing grains from your dog’s food and/or feeding her raw food can improve inflammation and allergy symptoms. Remember that if you do change your dog’s diet, transition to the new food gradually to give her system time to adjust.
- Add Omega 3 fish oil (preferably from organic, wild caught salmon) to your dog’s diet. Fish oil provides essential fatty acids which can help reduce inflammation. Allow at least 8 weeks to get the full effect of fish oil supplementation for your dog.
- Add a nutritional supplement which contains antioxidant compounds, such as beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, vitamins C and E, selenium, and sulfur-containing amino acids, which are needed to protect the body from the tremendous increase in free radicals that takes place during an inflammatory process.
- Add probiotics to your dog’s food to combat gastrointestinal disorders which can result from ingestion of Prednisone. Larger doses of a probiotic may be most helpful during and immediately after Prednisone therapy.