What Are the Uses of Dexamethasone for Dogs?

white dog

The uses of dexamethasone for dogs vary widely, from cancer to conditions that cause inflammation. It might be prescribed for arthritis, some autoimmune diseases, skin problems, and to treat shock or other nervous system disorders. Some gastrointestinal disorders might improve using dexamethasone. A veterinarian might also use the drug before and after surgery, along with antibiotics, to aid healing and prevent infection.

Dexamethasone for dogs is a strong, synthetic corticosteroid available in tablet and liquid forms. Studies show the drug’s anti-inflammatory properties might be 20 times as effective as other prednisolone drugs and up to 80 times stronger than hydrocortisones. This newer drug is more potent than older corticorsteroids, meaning dexamethasone usually requires lower doses.

dog in snow

As an anti-inflammatory veterinary medication, dexamethasone might reduce swelling and pain from conditions such as arthritis. It also treats skin problems, like eczema, by aiding healing and reducing discomfort. Veterinarians determine the dose of dexamethasone by analyzing the condition and evaluating how a dog responds to the drug. The liquid version can be administered by injection to quickly restore hormonal levels.

Pet owners using dexamethasone for dogs should watch for a list of side effects that might occur. Dogs might suffer fatigue and weakness from loss of muscle tone while on the drug. It also could suppress an animal’s immune system, causing wounds to heal slowly, and affect a dog’s adrenal system, especially if used over a long period of time. Some dogs develop stomach ulcers as a side effect.

two panting dogs

The drug might also cause a dog to drink and urinate excessively. Appetite might be affected and lead to low weight in some animals. Another adverse reaction could alter blood sugar levels, and the drug is not recommended for animals with diabetes.

Dexamethasone for dogs might not be appropriate in animals with other health conditions, such as liver or heart problems. Pets that suffer from seizures may also want to avoid the product. Osteoporosis might become worse in dogs using this drug, and pregnant animals might go into premature labor while taking the medication.

Other risks include interactions with other drugs. Dexamethasone should not be combined with drugs used to thin the blood or medication a dog takes for seizures. If it is combined with other steroid drugs, an overdose might occur. Veterinarians typically caution pet owners to discontinue the use of this medication gradually to prevent withdrawal complications.

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