Everything You Need to Know About Prednisone For Cats


When taking on the responsibility of caring for an animal, it should never be one taken lightly. In reality, there is no such thing as a pet owner if the pet truly is a member of the family. Whether it’s a cat or dog, they deserve the same amount of love and attention from you as you’d give to anybody else such as your child, parent, or spouse. As a single person, odds are your cat or dog is also your top companion, one whose impact in your life is just as profound in yours as you are in theirs. So when your pet becomes ill enough where there is the need to bring it in for medical attention, there’s nothing more frightening than realizing the fate of your cat or dog not only rests in your own hands but the veterinarian as well. Should the occasion arise you have to take your canine or feline friend to visit a clinic and the prescription of prednisone, then you need to be made aware of what is in it.

What is Prednisone

Prednisone is a synthetic steroid that provides a significant amount of activity as an anti-inflammatory. This ingredient is used in a variety of medical treatments for both people and animals, and at various dosages. It depends entirely on the type of medication this ingredient is being used for. Prednisone belongs to the drug family known as corticosteroids, which are designed to manage inflammation that erupts due to diseases and medical conditions revolving around the immune system. On a natural level, our bodies already produce a corticosteroid called cortisol. However, among humans and animals alike, when a certain collection of diseases and other medical ailments can exacerbate the body’s need for anti-inflammatory relief and the prednisone’s overall anti-inflammatory activity is approximately four times the amount of cortisol. Prednisone can be administered through a variety of different methods such as orally, topically, or by injection. For pets, prednisone is typically used to reduce the inflammation that has resulted from autoimmune diseases and can help regulate the immune system of your dog or cat. This ingredient has also been used in emergency situations such as anaphylactic reaction, spinal cord trauma, and any other form of shock. The most common reasons why a veterinarian may prescribe prednisone to your pet are as follows:

  • Addison’s Disease
  • Anaphylactic Shock
  • Allergies
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Central Nervous System Disorders
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Hormonal Disorders
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Liver Conditions
  • Lupus
  • Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Orthopedic Disease

As is the case with all prescriptions, special care and consideration need to be in place as it is instructed by the veterinarian. This is also stated as the directions labeled on the bottle. When it comes to administering this medication to your pet, it’s important to be mindful to not underdose or overdose. This is especially the case with prednisone since chronic or inappropriate use of this corticosteroid can result in long-term effects on the pet that can lead to life-threatening hormonal changes, as well as metabolic changes.

Cats and Dogs: The Differences

While prednisone is used as an anti-inflammatory for both cats and dogs, neither have identical genetic makeups about them that suggest they can take the exact same thing at the exact same dosage. Just as is the case with pet food and treats, they are too different from each other. For dogs, the short-term usage of prednisone normally doesn’t cause any really negative side effects. However, should this be the case, those side-effects may come in the form of a compromised coat of hair, diarrhea, energy loss, panting, skin infections and irritations, unusual appetite and thirst, vomiting, and/or weight gain. Also, potentially more serious side effects may occur when longer termed use of prednisone and in higher doses are in play. Adverse effects are also usually more common among canines that are taking immunosuppressive prescriptions. Such side effects may include:

  • Behavioral Issues
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Elevated Liver Enzymes
  • GI Disturbances
  • GI Ulceration
  • Lipidemia
  • Muscle Waste
  • Pancreatitis
  • Polydipsia
  • Polyphagia
  • Polyuria

What About Cats?

As for cats, the potential side effects of prednisone dosages with our feline friends are usually required to have higher doses than their canine counterparts. While veterinarians tend to suggest cats can handle higher doses, this does not mean they’re immune to its potential side effects. Those side effects are most typically cause behavioral changes, diabetes mellitus, GI disturbances, polydipsia, polyphagia, polyuria, and potential weight gain. However, as is the case with people, dosages and prescriptions among cats will vary according to what’s needed and what for. Furthermore, whenever administering any amount of prescribed medication to either your cat, it is very important to review how well the animal is responding. Are there any issues to be concerned about? Issues such as an electrolyte imbalance have been known to occur, so this is something to be mindful of. When the electrolyte is too either too high or too low, issues such as cramping, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, and temporary confusion may result.

This is where the trigger of moodiness and behavioral issues are likely to come about. For pets contending with diabetic conditions, the prednisone may result in the need for increased insulin requirements. GI and stomach ulcers have also been known to result as a complication due to the administration of this corticosteroid. For cats, overdosing on prednisone is unlikely in short-term administration because of its natural ability to apply adrenal suppression. This is something their canine counterparts do not have. However, long-term administration of prednisone may cause some issues that are related to the suppression of the cat’s normal adrenal functions, which may cause a metabolic crisis as a result of abrupt withdrawal of prednisone, or iatrogenic Cushing’s disease. The most common low dosage prescriptions of prednisone made by veterinarians for cats are as follows:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma (and other respiratory-related conditions)
  • Dermatitis

The most common medium dosage prescriptions of prednisone made by veterinarians for cats with overactive immune conditions are:

  • Haemolytic Anaemia
  • Hyperactive Immune System (and other immune-related conditions)
  • Meningitis
  • Polyarthritis

According to the multitude of animal-related medical journals revolving around the subject of prednisone, it has been established the usage of steroids and their anti-inflammatory properties play an integral role in controlling respiratory-related diseases. This helps prevent the danger of asthma attacks by suppressing the inflammation that erupts in the airways that could potentially cause enough swelling to blockage the ability to breathe properly. Inflammation of the lungs is commonplace among asthma sufferers. This is also the case among those who may constantly have to contend with chronic bronchitis. This analogy applies to cats, dogs, and even people. Unless these serious medical issues are kept under control, a multitude of complications can result in life-threatening situations that could otherwise be avoided.

Prednisone Treatment Methods

Regular oral and injectable treatments of prednisone steroids for cats may also cause some of the health-related side effects previously mentioned. The more often this form of medication is administered into the body, and at a higher dose, the more vulnerable your cat becomes to the side effects. There is one method that can help offset these side effects. This has been considered a preferred alternative form of treatment. Through an inhaled form of steroid medication, the cat can also receive this form of treatment. This method also applies to dogs and people. There are several different types of corticosteroid medications that offer a variety of intake methods, including oral and injection. The main types of these types of steroids are dexamethasone, prednisolone, and prednisone. Each of them is a synthetic steroid treatment and is far more potent than naturally producing corticosteroids. Not only are they each stronger as a dosage, but have longer durability as a treatment than what the body naturally puts forth. However, while short-term this seems to work, over a longer period of time, the potential for side effects increase. While dexamethasone, prednisolone, and prednisone are all designed to achieve the same end result, they are quite different from each other as they each have their own brand of synthetic steroid.

Prednisolone is a metabolized version of prednisone. Prednisone must be metabolized by the liver before it can be administered effectively. Unlike people, cats do not have the ability to sufficiently absorb and convert the prednisone through their little bodies to metabolize it to become prednisolone. Because of this, there is a higher bioavailability of prednisolone, which is absorbed in a higher degree and rate than prednisone. However, both prednisolone and prednisone have unpleasant side effects that will make the life of the cat rather uncomfortable. Whether the prednisone is injected or orally administered, once it gets into the bloodstream then it sets a course to spread throughout the rest of the body’s entire system. Only some of the medication reaches the intended target, but the rest have been known to venture off into other organs as well. This is why this type of medication is usually referred to as a systematic steroid. Because of this, there are side effects that are associated with injected and oral prednisone use. These side effects, mainly the short-term ones, are expected shortly after a cat begins to take oral or injected corticosteroids. These effects vary by dosage. Long-term effects are usually seen over a stretch of time if the cat has been prescribed such medication for a lengthier period of time. The severity of these side effects depends on the dosage amount and duration of this type of medical treatment. Such side effects that are typical with dexamethasone, prednisolone, and prednisone treatments that are done orally are:

  • Energy Loss
  • Frequent Urination
  • Increased Risk of Infection
  • Increased Appetite and Thirst
  • Panting
  • Weight Gain
  • Vomiting
  • Long-term Side-effects
    Allergic Reaction
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Bladder Control Loss
  • Cushing’s Disease
  • Dermatology Issues
  • Diabetes
  • Hair Loss
  • Impaired Wound Healing
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Increased Risk of Bacterial Infection
  • Increased Risk of Fungal Infection
  • Increased Risk of Urinary Tract Infection
  • Stomach Ulcers
  • Suppressed Immune Function
  • Weight Gain

These side effects are likely to reduce the quality of life for the cat, as well as change its overall behavior. It can also make a change in the relationship between the cat and its parental caregiver. The chances of the cat you once knew may no longer be the same after undergoing the treatment of prednisone and its side effects. Truth be told, the longer a cat remains on prednisone, whether it be by injection or oral treatment, the more issues will come about in the form of side effects that may or not go away once the long-term treatment is over. In the case of cat asthma having an attack, a veterinarian may administer an oral or injected treatment of prednisone as an emergency procedure. However, because this type of medication carries a long list of side effects, putting a cat on a long-term treatment program through this method is not advised. Even if the cat has a chronic condition that requires continuous medication that requires an anti-inflammatory solution, going the injected or oral route will become a serious health concern for your cat where it can become lethal enough to shorten its lifespan, forcing the cat to undergo a slow, painful death that is inhumane, to say the least.

Prednisone Inhalers for Cats

Since cats are known to have asthma and chronic conditions that will stick with them for the rest of their lifespan, corticosteroid treatment is an important daily part of disease management in order to keep the airways clear of obstruction. The cat deserves to live a normal life, just like everyone else. Inhaled prednisone as a corticosteroid treatment is a safer alternative to the methods used by injections and oral consumption. While such treatment isn’t always side-effect-free, the amount of it and the severity of it is much lower. Because prednisone inhaler treatment is designed for long-term care to control inflammation, this is the preferred route to go for the sake of the cat’s health and well-being. Furthermore, since this method is performed by inhaling the medication, it goes straight to where it needs to go and nowhere else. The lungs receive the full benefit from this treatment while the rest of the cat’s organs are kept out of the equation. There’s also no need for such a high dose when the inhaling method is exercised.

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