Prednisone for dogs is a type of corticosteroid that is synthesized in the laboratory setting. It closely mimics the action of natural corticosteroids and as such is important in the management of moderate to severe inflammatory conditions, allergies, and some forms of cancer as well as in the management of certain auto-immune diseases in dogs. Prednisone, like its natural counterpart, is a very powerful substance. The presence of serious side effects makes it one of the treatments of last resort by veterinary professionals.

sleepy dog


Being a synthetic corticosteroid, Prednisone for dogs is primarily indicated in the management of the following canine health conditions.

  • Moderate to severe inflammation 

Natural corticosteroids are known for their immunosuppressant effects. It works by affecting the ability of the dog’s body to produce pro-inflammatory substances. This helps reduce the signs of inflammation while also limiting the resulting damage to tissues. This reduces redness, heat, swelling, and even pain.

  • Allergies 

Allergies are known to be the result of inflammatory responses brought about by a dysfunctional antigen-recognition system in the immune system of the dog. Prednisone for dogs suppresses the activity of the immune system. This can help eliminate itching, redness, swelling, and other potential manifestations of allergies.

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  • Canine autoimmune disorders 

Pemphigus, Addison’s disease, and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus are just some of the common autoimmune disorders in dogs that can be managed with Prednisone. These disorders are associated with the failure of the immune system to differentiate between a ‘self- and a ‘non-self’ cell.

  • Certain forms of cancer in dogs 

Prednisone has been a mainstay in palliative treatment of certain cancers in dogs. Prednisone is indicated among dogs with cancer because of its anti-inflammatory and analgesic benefits. Reducing the inflammation around the growing tumor can help provide cancer pain relief.

  • Adjunctive treatment during organ transplant procedures 

Dogs that are expected to undergo organ transplantation such as the kidneys, cornea, bone, and soft tissue allografts are often given Prednisone in an attempt to prevent the immune system from attacking these transplanted tissues. Because these tissues typically have a different genetic makeup, the immune system will recognize it as ‘non-self’. Prednisone can help prevent tissue rejection from occurring.

Benefits of Prednisone

The obvious benefits of Prednisone for dogs are attributed to its amazing immunosuppressant properties. Here are some of the more recognizable benefits.

  • Helps reduce signs of inflammation such as swelling, redness, and increased warmth
  • Alleviates pain and helps improve overall mobility
  • Relieves the symptoms associated with allergies such as itching, rashes, and swelling.
  • Helps in the management of autoimmune diseases in dogs
  • Forms part of the palliative management of certain cancers in dogs
  • Prevents organ transplant rejections in dogs receiving donor tissues

How Prednisone Works

Prednisone for dogs works by suppressing the various activities of the immune system. This leads to a reduction in the various physiologic processes that are mediated by the cells of the immune system. Because inflammation, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and transplant rejection are all related to physiologic processes involving the immune system, introducing Prednisone will prevent these events from occurring. If not, it will attempt to mitigate the effects.

pet medication

Potential Side Effects

It is clear that the most serious side effect of Prednisone for dogs is related to its ability to suppress the normal function of the immune system. This is what protects your dog from microbial infections as well as other potential insults. Without a fully functioning immune system your dog will be more susceptible to the development of a variety of infections. Other side effects of Prednisone are dose-dependent. The higher the dose, the more severe is the side effect. Here are some of the more common adverse reactions.

  • Increased blood sugar
  • Weight gain
  • Severe facial swelling
  • Thinning of the skin
  • Behavioral changes
  • Blurred vision

If your pooch experiences any of the following while it is on Prednisone therapy, you can continue giving the medication but you should talk to your vet about these symptoms.

  • Insomnia
  • Stomach upset
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness

If your pooch suddenly develops signs of an allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling in its tongue, face, or lips, then you should bring your pooch straight to your vet.

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Things You Should Know about Prednisone

Prednisone for dogs is a very powerful anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant drug that is only available by written prescription from your veterinarian. Prednisone is withdrawn gradually from the dog’s system by slowly tapering the doses in subsequently lower doses. It is best administered with food.

What You Should Tell Your Vet before He Prescribes Prednisone

If your pet has an active infection – bacterial, fungal, or viral – or is recovering from one, it is important to tell your vet since your dog’s immunity is still compromised. Giving the Prednisone now will only suppress its immune system even more. Problems in the liver, kidneys, and the heart will also warrant the non-administration of Prednisone.

How to Give Prednisone to Your Dog

Your veterinarian will determine the exact dosage that will be needed to treat the kind of condition in your pet. Under no circumstance should you deviate from the recommended dose. Prednisone for dogs is available in scored tablets of 1-, 5-, 10-, 20-, and 50-milligram formulations. Also, don’t forget to administer it with your pet’s food to minimize upsetting its stomach.

What to Do If You Miss a Dose

If you miss giving a dose, then you should give it in the soonest possible time. However, if the time that you noticed you missed the dose is already close to its next scheduled dose, you can forget the missed dose and simply proceed with the next one.

dog sleeping

What to Do in Case of Prednisone Overdose

As we have already said, any sign of overdose will require immediate and emergency veterinary consultation.

Some Drug Interactions

Always talk to your veterinarian if your pooch is taking other medications, supplements, or even herbal preparations concomitantly with Prednisone. Do understand that many substances can have adverse drug interactions with Prednisone.

Prednisone for dogs is a prescription-only medication available for dogs and cats. It is primarily given in the management of inflammation, allergies, autoimmune disorders, transplant graft rejections, and even cancer palliation. Because it suppresses the immune system, care should be taken not to expose your dog to harmful microorganisms as it won’t have the capacity to fight them.

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Olivia Williams
Olivia is our head of content for, mum of one and a true animal lover. With 12 different types of animal in her family, it's never a dull moment. When she isn't walking the dogs, feeding the cats or playing with her pet Parrot Charlie, you will find her product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest products for your pets!


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