Dexamethasone For Dogs: Uses, Dosage, And Side Effects

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Dexamethasone is a powerful anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive drug that can be used to treat several conditions in dogs. It is more powerful than prednisone and 30 times stronger than the cortisol steroid hormones that are produced naturally in dogs’ adrenal glands. Dexamethasone is prescribed for dogs that suffer from allergies, arthritis, and other conditions caused by the immune system’s overactive response to perceived threats. This drug requires a prescription from your veterinarian, and you should follow instructions closely, as misuse of the medication can result in infections and other side effects. Here is what you should know about the uses, dosage, and side effects of dexamethasone for dogs.

Uses Of Dexamethasone For Dogs

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Dexamethasone can be used to treat many conditions in dogs. As an immunosuppressant, it can treat conditions where the immune system overreacts to perceived threats, often causing inflammation and other problems. It can also ease pain associated with inflammation in certain conditions, such as arthritis. Here are several medical conditions in dogs that may be treated with dexamethasone.

  • Allergies
  • Swelling from inflammation
  • Arthritis
  • Adrenal conditions like Addison’s disease
  • Systemic lupus
  • Skin disease
  • Colitis and other gastrointestinal problems
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Respiratory issues
  • Liver disorders
  • Hematologic disorders
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Nervous system disease
  • Tumor growth
  • Shock
  • Nephrotic syndrome

Dosage Of Dexamethasone For Dogs

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The usual dosage of dexamethasone for dogs varies based on the condition that is being treated. For inflammatory conditions, the drug is usually given in a dose of 0.1 to 0.3 mg per pound administered twice a day. As an immunosuppressant, the dosage is usually 1 to 3 mg per pound up to three times a day. Other disease and conditions may require a dosage of 0.1 to 3 mg per pound.

You should follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully. Dexamethasone is a powerful drug, and it is easy to overdose on it, which can result in hormonal or metabolic changes that could result in death. Do not discontinue treatment unless your veterinarian advises you to do so, even if symptoms improve. Your vet can adjust dosage based on your dog’s needs.

Side Effects Of Dexamethasone In Dogs

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There are many possible side effects of using dexamethasone, and long-term use increases the risks that dogs will experience these effects. If you see concerning side effects of dexamethasone in your dog, inform your veterinarian so they can adjust the dosage or treat the abnormal symptoms. Here are several side effects that dogs might experience when taking dexamethasone.

  • Appetite changes
  • Increased thirst or urination
  • Drowsiness
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Adrenal deficiency
  • Poor healing from wounds
  • Muscle loss
  • Weakness
  • Behavior changes
  • Brain swelling
  • Increased seizures
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Panting
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestive tract ulcers
  • Lethargy
  • Skin thinning
  • Alopecia
  • Pancreatitis
  • Weight gain

Certain medical conditions in dogs may worsen with use of dexamethasone. Your veterinarian should be aware of any other conditions your dog suffers from, including diabetes, Cushing’s disease, heart problems, kidney disease, osteoporosis, glaucoma, or ulcers. Your veterinarian should also be aware of any other medications your dog is taking, especially other steroids, immunosuppressants, or NSAIDs, as these can interact poorly with dexamethasone and cause serious complications.

Has your dog ever taken dexamethasone? Was it an effective treatment? Let us know in the comments below!