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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Corticosteroids are commonly prescribed drugs in veterinary practice but there are some circumstances when they should not be prescribed, or they should be used with great care

Corticosteroids should not be administered to :

  • Animals with :
    • Bacterial or viral infections
    • Diabetes mellitus
    • Gastrointestinal ulceration
    • Kidney disease
    • Pregnancy
    • Wounds

Side-effects are commonly seen when corticosteroids are used - particularly when they are used longterm. Signs are similar to those seen in hyperadrenocorticism (Cushings syndrome) and may include :

  • Calcinosis cutis
  • Gastrointestinal haemorrhage
  • Hepatomegaly
  • Hypokalaemia
  • Increased liver enzyme concentrations in blood
  • Altered metabolism of protein,. fat and carbohydrate
  • Muscle weakness
  • Osteoporosis
  • Polydipsia
  • Polyphagia
  • Polyuria
  • Sodium retention
  • Water retention

When taking animals treated with corticosteroids off therapy they should be given a gradually reducing dose to avoid the acute precipitation of hypoadrenocorticism due to adrenal atrophy. Also, if the drug doses are given first thing in the morning to dogs - this coincides with peak cortisol secretion from the adrenal gland, and so minimises the likelihood of adrenal atrophy occurring. 


Updated January 2016