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Steroids for Dogs: Pros and Cons

July 10th, 2020

Your dog has probably been prescribed steroids at some point in their life. The steroids that are prescribed for dogs happen to be different than the ones that are used by bodybuilders to build muscle. In essence, those mimic testosterone and are called anabolic steroids.

Typically, when a vet gives your dog steroids, they're prescribing corticosteroids. These are synthetic drugs that are designed to mimic cortisol, which is a substance that is naturally made by all mammals, including people and dogs. In this article, you're going to learn what steroids for dogs are and the pros and cons of giving your dog steroids.

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Why Use Steroids for Dogs?


Steroids for dogs are a great way to treat many diseases because they can help your dog in many ways – dependent on the dosage prescribed.


Medicinal steroids are used to reduce swelling and inflammation, and they subdue hyperactive immune system functions. As an example, you might have seen cortisone cream at the store. This cream has steroids in it and is often used by people to treat skin irritation.


Steroids for dogs can be given to them in topical use, inhalation through an inhaler or nebulizer, pill form, or injected under the skin, into the muscles, or bloodstream, or absorbed through the gums. If your pet has dealt with inflammatory illness, such as a swollen ear caused by an aural hematoma or skin hot spots from a flea allergy, then your vet has prescribed a low dosage steroid to give anti-inflammatory properties.


Steroids can also be prescribed to deal with autoimmune syndromes, such as immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, Lupus erythematosus, or inflammatory bowel disease. When treating these conditions, vets use a higher dosage of steroids for longer periods to subdue your dog's immune system. This stops your dog's body from attacking itself.


Vets can also give steroids for dogs to treat an adrenal disorder named Addison's disease. This disease causes the adrenal gland, which is in charge of creating natural steroids, to stop creating steroids. The steroids that are prescribed are synthetic steroids that are used as supplements for the natural steroids that are missing.


The Function of Steroids for Dogs

You might know canine prednisone, which is a common steroid for dogs prescribed by vets. Prednisone is often prescribed to treat allergic or inflammatory conditions. It can be used to treat many illnesses ranging from bee stings to autoimmune diseases and brain inflammation to skin rashes.

Another steroid for dogs that is commonly given as an injection is triamcinolone, or you might be familiar with the trade name Vetalog. This is a long-lasting steroid that is mostly given to treat severe dermatitis – allergic, red, inflamed itchy skin. But can also be used to treat other allergic or inflammatory conditions too.

If you've ever taken your dog to the vet for an ear infection, your dog has probably been given a topical cream containing antifungal, antibiotics, and betamethasone. This is a steroid commonly given to help with ear inflammation and pain for dogs.

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The Risks Surrounding Steroids for Dogs


Steroids for dogs are a useful tool to treat diseases. However, improper use can lead to steroids causing more problems for your dog.


The most common risk involved with steroids for dogs is a condition called Cushing's syndrome. This condition happens when there is too much steroid in your dog's body. This condition can cause dogs to lose hair, pant a lot, eat a lot, pee a lot, drink a lot, and gain weight. Additionally, dogs that have Cushing's can develop an impaired immune system, which makes them susceptible to urinary tract and skin infections.


Other risks to steroids for dogs include intestinal and stomach ulcers, adrenal gland destruction, hyperactivity or anxiety, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol. By giving your dog too much steroid, you can shut down their adrenal gland, which can cause Addison's disease, which, in some cases, can be deadly.


Listen to your vet when steroids are prescribed for your dog. They have been trained to use steroids for dogs properly and can give you advice on the benefits and risks of using steroids. In some cases, steroids might not be the correct answer to your dog's problem.


When steroids for dogs are used correctly, they can have properties that are lifesaving by curing diseases. For this to happen, the steroids must be given in proper dosage and delivered with the permission of a vet to help reduce the chances of adverse side effects. Proper administration of steroids for dogs can help your pet recover from debilitating and painful conditions.


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Pros to Steroids for Dogs

Steroids for dogs are powerful healing drugs. They are used to control pain, allergic reactions, and inflammation. There are a few benefits to using steroids for dogs:

  • Can relieve inflammation and itchy, red skin in less than a day.
  • Can relieve pain for different types of diseases.
  • Works quickly to relieve pain, inflammation, and allergic reactions.
  • Short-term use is the best option when possible.

Cons to Steroids for Dogs

Even with the benefits that steroids for dogs can bring to your beloved pet, there are some cons that you should be aware of:

  • Side effects of steroids for dogs include depression, diarrhea, panting, hyperactivity, weight gain, increased urination, increased appetite and thirst.
  • Long-term use can suppress your dog's immune system, which makes them more susceptible to illness and infection.
  • Long-term use can cause severe and permanent damage to your dog's liver, pancreas, and adrenal glands.
  • Long-term use has been found to cause diabetes in dogs.

Conclusion

Steroids for dogs can be incredibly beneficial when it comes to treating painful diseases that your dog might be suffering from. But if they aren't used with care, they can cause serious side effects. Remember to always consult with your vet before you give your dog any steroids; this way, you can avoid causing harm to your beloved dog.