What YOU Should Know About Your Pet's Steroidal Medications

What are Steroids?

Steroidal medications are indicated for a wide variety of conditions in both dogs and cats. Steroids may be used for allergic conditions (e.g hives, skin allergies, asthma etc); some intestinal conditions; immune-mediated disease; certain blood or endocrinal (hormonal) disorders; or as part of cancer management, to name a few. Steroids have strong, beneficial anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic effects when used appropriately, but have a definite potential to cause severe negative side effects if abused. Steroids may be administered by an injection/s, orally or topically. Examples of steroids prescribed at Cahill Animal Hospital are prednisone, dexamethasone, depomedrol, Neosoothe/Dermacure creams and Imflamol gel. Always consult your veterinarian to check which steroid is right for your pet.

Side effects of steroidal use are generally dependent on the dose, route and duration of treatment. Adverse effects are more commonly seen in animals on long-term and/or high (immunosuppresive) doses of steroids. Short-term use of steroids may still cause some adverse effects, but this an unlikely scenario. Possible side effects with the use of steroids include, but are not limited to:


Note that some steroids may need to be tapered off slowly before you may stop them – therefore, it is important to use all steroids only under veterinary direction.


Drug Safety

When your pet is on steroids, ensure that:

  1. Veterinary advice is sought before you start your pet on steroids or any other drugs, vitamins or herbal remedies. Other drugs and even all-natural products may interfere with how steroids are metabolised by the body and may lead to serious reactions.
  2. Steroids must be given with or shortly-after a meal.
  3. The dosage and frequency on the prescription label is strictly adhered to. Do not change the dosage or frequency without first consulting your veterinarian.
  4. Only one person in the household is in-charge of administering the steriods  to prevent accidental double-dosing.
  5. The steroids are stored in an area that children and pets cannot access it – remember that pets can chew through blister packs and prescription bottles!


 *Never share your pet's steroidal medications with another pet in the household*


Stop giving steroids if you notice your pet showing signs of:


If any of these signs are seen, stop dosing immediately and please phone us at (06) 358 8675 to arrange for your pet to be checked over by a veterinarian.


What Should You Do BEFORE Your Pet Starts on Steroids?

Tell your veterinarian about your pet's symptoms and current medications, including prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, herbal supplements and flea control products. Giving steroids in combination with some other medications/supplements could seriously harm your pet.

All pets should receive a thorough physical examination, as well as appropriate blood/urine testing where deemed necessary by your vet, before the initiation of steroidal therapy. Ask your veterinarian about the testing protocols that are best for your pet. Also discuss with your veterinarian about the benefits, risks and side effects of steroids and any other medication dispensed. An informed pet owner is the best defence against serious side effects from steroids.


Monitoring Your Pet

At Cahill Animal Hospital, we consider it very important that your pet is monitored regularly while on steroids. This is to ensure that the medication is still effective, and more importantly, that it is causing no harm.

Your veterinarian may recommend screening for liver disease before starting treatment. Thereafter, your vet may need to re-examine your pet frequently to assess the effectiveness of treatment. Once the vet is satisfied with your pet’s progress, check-ups may become less frequent.

Depending on the overall health status of your pet, your veterinarian may also recommend 6-monthly or a yearly liver function check for animals on long-term steroids. The liver function check helps ensure that these organs are remaining healthy and coping well with the medication.


Dispensing Advice


The above information is provided for educational purposes only and not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional veterinary medical advice, diagnosis or treatment; and should not be relied on solely as veterinary advice. For more information or if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call us on 063588675.


Published by Cahill Animal Hospital on 21 April 2016
The team at Cahill Animal Hospital is here to provide you and your pet with the best possible medical, surgical and supportive care. Our motto "We care as much as you do" is a very important part of our day to day work. We are committed to providing you and your pet with the best options for care.

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