Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pred? What's it all about...

Prednisone is a synthetic hormone commonly referred to as a "steroid". Prednisone is very similar to the hormone Cortisone, which your own body manufactures. Prednisone is used to treat many illnesses.

Prednisone acts in part as an immunosuppressant. "Immune" refers to the immune system. The immune system protects you against foreign bacteria, virus, etc. In some illnesses, the immune system produces antibodies which become overactive and cause undesirable effects. Prednisone suppresses the production of antibodies. This can make it slightly harder for your to fight off infection, but also stabilizes the immune system if it is overactive. 
Prednisone also works against inflammation to reduce the heat, redness, swelling, and pain. 
When beginning Prednisone, there is a small chance that it may cause increased weakness for a short period of time. It therefore may be necessary for you to be hospitalized for the first few days for observation.

Side effects do not occur in all patients and are usually related to the amount and length of time Prednisone is used. Potential side effects will be monitored by your vet and include:

Weight gain. Prednisone increases appetite. Follow a diet to maintain weigh. Develop and feeding schedule and stick to it. 

Susceptible to infections. Prednisone slightly decreases your dog's resistance to infection. Avoid dogs with infectious illnesses if possible. Notify you vet if your dog develop persistent signs of an infection. 

Stomach upset or ulcer. Prednisone may increase acid secretion. Give Prednisone with meals, milk or antacids. Do not take on an empty stomach. 

Insomnia and mood changes. The cause is uncertain. It is best to take prednisone at least 3 hours before bedtime. If you are on a daily schedule it is best to take it in the morning. 

Hyperglycemia. Prednisone may increase the amount of sugar in  blood to rise. This can be treated by your vet. 

Hypertension. Prednisone may cause blood pressure to rise. This can be treated by your vet, if necessary. 

Fluid retention. Prednisone can cause dog to retain fluid. This will be monitored by your vet. 

Osteoporosis. Prednisone can make bones become brittle. This usually occurs after taking Prednisone for a prolonged time. It may be recommended that you give a calcium supplement.

Alterations in hair growth. Prednisone can cause a darkening and/or increase in hear growth. This disappears when the dose of Prednisone is decreased. 

Cataracts. After prolonged use of Prednisone, cataracts may develop occasionally. This will be monitored by your vet by periodic examinations. 

Skin changes. Prednisone can cause a change in the condition of  skin. 

Nausea, vomiting, pain, fever, and/or flare-up of disease. Rapid withdrawal or stopping of Prednisone may cause these side effects. Never stop or change your Prednisone dose without your vet's consent.