Can dogs use Prednisone?

  • Prednisone may be used on dogs, but with caution(1) as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved it for veterinary use(2).
  • Short-term use of Prednisone has manageable side effects. However, high doses of the drug and long-term use could result in infections, aggression, inhibited growth in young dogs, diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes), Cushing’s disease, vomiting, diarrhea, ulceration of the digestive tract, lethargy, and delayed wound healing(3).
  • To avoid these side effects, dog owners can give their pets natural alternatives to Prednisone, such as yucca schidigera(4), turmeric(5), and CBD oil(6).
  • Of the three, CBD oil has proven to relieve the most symptoms Prednisone alleviates, such as inflammatory conditions(7), arthritis(8), shock(9), skin conditions(10), cancer (11), and asthma(12).
  • Dog owners are advised to consult with their veterinarian first before administering CBD to their pets.

What is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a corticosteroid used in alleviating symptoms of skin conditions, breathing disorders, arthritis, auto-immune and allergic reactions like hives(13). It suppresses the immune system and inhibits the release of inflammation-causing substances in the body. 

Patients’ immune response to Prednisone is positive. It treats auto-immune diseases like ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease), lupus, and psoriasis. 

This corticosteroid also treats central nervous system disorders and hormonal disorders such as Addison’s disease, a rare disorder where the sufferer’s adrenal gland is unable to produce ample amounts of cortisol and aldosterone hormones(14).

Prednisone vs. Prednisolone 

Prednisone and prednisolone are both synthetic glucocorticoids (steroid hormones). They can treat the same auto-immune, skin, central nervous system, and hormonal conditions. However, Prednisone still needs to be converted by liver enzymes before it can take effect(15).

Doctors are more likely to prescribe prednisolone to patients who have severe liver diseases or cats as they lack the enzyme needed to break prednisone to prednisolone. 

Can Prednisone be Used on Dogs?

Prednisone may be used on dogs but must be administered with caution(16).

It is often used to treat Addison’s disease by supplementing dogs with glucocorticoids that their own body is unable to produce.

Prednisone can also treat dogs for the following conditions(17):

  • Asthma
  • Some cancer forms
  • High blood calcium levels (hypercalcemia) 
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Skin disease
  • Arthritis
  • Shock

An article by Dr. Tammy Hunter, DVM and Dr. Ernest Ward, DVM reveals that even if Prednisone and Prednisolone are synthetic or human-made corticosteroids, they are more potent than those that are naturally found in the body. Their effects last longer, too(18).

Dogs on Prednisone should be monitored carefully for side effects. According to Hunter and Ward, the benefits outweigh the risks when using Prednisone on pets(19).

Few side effects will occur when the medication is used correctly.

Similar to many drugs in veterinary medicine, despite Prednisone’s benefits, its use in animals has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)(20).

Prednisone Dosage for Dogs

If Prednisone is administered for its anti-inflammatory effects, the standard dosage for Prednisone in dogs is 0.5mg per kilogram. If it is used to treat immune system disorders in dogs, the dosage is 1mg per kilogram(21).

When it comes to dosing Prednisone, use as much as is required to treat the symptoms but as little as possible to reduce the chances of the dog experiencing severe side effects(22).

As soon as the dog’s condition improves, the slow tapering of the pet off Prednisone is suggested(23).

According to Dr. Rania Gollakner, BS, DVM, in about 1 to 2 hours, Prednisone should take effect, and significant improvements in the dog should follow(24).

Best combined with pet food, Prednisone comes in tablet, injectable, or liquid form(25).

Dr. Barbara Forney recommends that Prednisone be given to dogs once daily, preferably in the morning(26).

Side Effects of Prednisone on Dogs

Potential short-term side effects of Prednisone on dogs, especially on those who are taking it for its immunosuppressive properties are as follows(27):

  • Increased thirst 
  • Excessive urination 
  • Increased appetite

When Prednisone is given at higher doses or for long periods of time, more severe and long-term side effects may be observed(28).

  • Increased risk of infection
  • Altered behavior including aggression
  • Inhibited growth especially in young dogs
  • Development or worsening of diabetes
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Ulceration of the digestive tract
  • Lethargy 
  • Delayed wound healing

A study conducted in 2015 revealed that dogs under corticosteroid treatment had shown adverse behavioral changes(29).

It is also important to note that Dogs who are suffering from infections like fungal infections should not be given Prednisone. Corticosteroids will bring these out, even latent infections(30).

Prednisone should also not be taken with drugs prone to causing ulcers, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as doing so can result in stomach ulcers.

Natural Alternatives to Prednisone for Dogs

Because of Prednisone’s side effects on a dog’s body, some pet owners are turning to natural alternatives for their pet’s medical conditions.

Yucca Schidigera and Dogs

For joint pain and inflammation, Yucca Schidigera is a recommended natural alternative. Its extracts have anti-arthritic and anti-inflammatory effects(31).

Yucca is a medicinal plant from Mexico. It is available in tablet form. 

Turmeric and Dogs

Instead of treating dogs with anti-inflammatory drugs, turmeric is a good alternative. A 2009 study shows that turmeric, particularly its curcumin compound, can be used to treat inflammation(32)

Aside from being anti-inflammatory, turmeric also has antibacterial, antitumor, and antioxidant properties(33).

CBD Oil and Dogs

Another natural alternative to Prednisone for dogs is CBD (Cannabidiol) oil, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. 

Most CBD benefits are reported on humans, especially its positive effects on epilepsy, anxiety, and different types of chronic pain(34). However, it is suggested that the system that regulates the functions of cannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system (ECS), is the same for all animal species except insects(35).

If the ECS of a human and a dog work the same way, it is suggested that CBD oil can be given to dogs as well.

According to a 2017 article(36), CBD shares metabolic pathways with anti-inflammatory drugs. Thus, it can help alleviate the inflammatory conditions Prednisone treats.

A 2018 study concluded that dogs suffering from osteoarthritis experienced a significant decrease in pain when they were administered with CBD oil. They were also perceived to be more comfortable and active(37), with no adverse effects when they were observed short-term. 

Prednisone treats shock in dogs because of its ability to improve circulation. Similarly, studies have shown that CBD reduces high blood pressure and heart rate in stressful situations(38). 

The 2017 study also revealed that CBD increases cerebral blood flow(39).

CBD can also help treat a dog’s itchy skin. Its protective role of the ECS could help reduce allergy in the skin(40).

A study also discusses CBD’s role as a potent inhibitor of cancer growth and spread. The research also suggests that CBD can be combined with classical chemotherapeutic agents(41).

Once CBD is used alongside chemotherapeutic agents, their dose and toxicity are reduced while the efficacy is maintained. 

While Prednisone alleviates asthma symptoms, CBD could also be as effective.

A study in 2015 states that CBD’s immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory properties could help in the treatment of asthma(42).

Despite these benefits, CBD also has side effects like dry mouth, lowered blood pressure, and drowsiness(43).

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved CBD use, so a dosing chart for dogs is not available.

Dog owners should administer small amounts of CBD at first and then monitor its effects. CBD can be given orally, combined with pet food, or used in massages.

Before including CBD in the dog’s regimen, it is recommended that pet parents inform their veterinarian first.

CBD and Prednisone

CBD and Prednisone should not be taken together. The liver enzyme cytochrome P450 metabolizes Prednisone for it to take effect on the body.

A study shows that CBD inhibits the enzyme system, thereby raising risks like amplifying Prednisone’s side effects(44).

Conclusion

Prednisone can be used on dogs. Short-term use already presents side effects, but the more concerning ones come from large doses and long-term use of the drug.

For inflammation in dogs, the dosage of Prednisone is 0.5mg per pound. For immune system disorders, the dosage is 1mg per pound.

Using Prednisone on pets for an extended period of time could bring about adverse effects; hence, natural alternatives like CBD oil are recommended.

CBD oil helps treat the symptoms Prednisone is used for sans the adverse effects. These symptoms include inflammatory conditions, arthritis, shock, skin conditions, cancer, and asthma. 

Pet owners should consult with their veterinarian before giving CBD to their dogs.

Taking CBD with Prednisone is not recommended.


  1. Romao FG, Campos EF, Mattoso CRS, Takahira RK. Hemostatic profile and thromboembolic risk in healthy dogs treated with prednisone: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Vet Res. (2013) 9:268. 10.1186/1746-6148-9-268. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3892056/
  2. Forney, Barbara. “Prednisolone And Prednisone For Dogs And Cats.” Prednisolone And Prednisone For Dogs And Cats, www.wedgewoodpharmacy.com/learning-center/medication-information-for-pet-and-horse-owners/prednisolone-and-prednisone-for-dogs-and-cats.html.
  3. PetMD. “Prednisone and Prednisolone for Dogs and Cats.” PetMD, 7 Nov. 2012, www.petmd.com/pet-medication/prednisone-prednisolone.
  4. Cheeke, P R et al. “Anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects of Yucca schidigera: a review.” Journal of inflammation (London, England) vol. 3 6. 29 Mar. 2006, doi:10.1186/1476-9255-3-6
  5. Boonjaraspinyo, Sirintip, et al. “Turmeric Reduces Inflammatory Cells in Hamster Opisthorchiasis.” Parasitology Research, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19633869.
  6. Sullivan, Megan. “CBD for Dogs: Everything You Need to Know.” PetMD, 21 Apr. 2017, www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/cannabis-oil-dogs-everything-you-need-know
  7. Ibid.
  8. Gamble, Lauri-Jo et al. “Pharmacokinetics, Safety, and Clinical Efficacy of Cannabidiol Treatment in Osteoarthritic Dogs.” Frontiers in veterinary science vol. 5 165. 23 Jul. 2018, doi:10.3389/fvets.2018.00165
  9. Sultan, Salahaden R, et al. “A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Haemodynamic Effects of Cannabidiol.” Frontiers in Pharmacology, Frontiers Media S.A., 24 Feb. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28286481.
  10. Karsak, Meliha, et al. “Attenuation of Allergic Contact Dermatitis Through the Endocannabinoid System.” Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 8 June 2007, science.sciencemag.org/content/316/5830/1494.long.
  11. Massi, Paola et al. “Cannabidiol as a potential anticancer drug.” British journal of clinical pharmacology vol. 75,2 (2013): 303-12. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04298.x
  12. Vuolo, et al. “Evaluation of Serum Cytokines Levels and the Role of Cannabidiol Treatment in Animal Model of Asthma.” Mediators of Inflammation, Hindawi, 25 May 2015, www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2015/538670/.
  13. “Prednisone Uses, Dosage, Side Effects, Warnings.” Drugs.com, www.drugs.com/prednisone.html.
  14. NHS Choices, NHS, www.nhs.uk/conditions/addisons-disease/.
  15. “What Is the Difference between Prednisone and Prednisolone?” Drugs.com, www.drugs.com/medical-answers/difference-between-prednisone-prednisolone-3508888/.
  16. Romao FG, op. cit.
  17. Ibid. 
  18. Hunter, Tammy, and Ernest Ward. “Steroid Treatment – Effects in Dogs.” vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/steroid-treatment-long-term-effects-in-dogs.
  19. Ibid.
  20. Forney B. op. cit.
  21. Pet MD. (2012 Nov. 7). op. cit. 
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ibid. 
  24. Gollakner, Rania. “Prednisolone/Prednisone.” vca_corporate, vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/prednisoloneprednisone.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Forney B. op. cit. 
  27. Pet MD. (2012 Nov. 7). op. cit. 
  28. Ibid.
  29. Notari, Lorella, et al. “Behavioural Changes in Dogs Treated with Corticosteroids.” Physiology & Behavior, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Nov. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26344646.
  30. Brooks, Wendy. “Prednisolone/Prednisone – Veterinary Partner.” VIN, veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951498.
  31. Cheeke PR. (2006 Mar. 29). op. cit.
  32. Boonjaraspinyo. (2009 Oct.). op. cit.
  33. Prasad, Sahdeo. “Turmeric, the Golden Spice.” Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd Edition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1970, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/.
  34. Grinspoon, Peter. “Cannabidiol (CBD) – What We Know and What We Don’t.” Harvard Health Blog, 22 Apr. 2020, www.health.harvard.edu/blog/cannabidiol-cbd-what-we-know-and-what-we-dont-2018082414476.
  35. Silver, Robert J. “The Endocannabinoid System of Animals.” Animals: an Open Access Journal from MDPI, MDPI, 16 Sept. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770351/.
  36. Sullivan, M. (2017 Apr. 21). op. cit.
  37. Gamble, L. (2018 Jul. 23). op. cit.  
  38. Sultan, S. (2017 Feb. 24). op. cit.
  39. Ibid. 
  40. Karsak, M. (2007 June 8). op. cit. 
  41. Massi, P. op. cit. 
  42. Hindawi
  43. Kriss, Randa. “CBD Oil For Dogs: What You Need To Know.” American Kennel Club, American Kennel Club, 28 Oct. 2019, www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/cbd-oil-dogs/.
  44. Yamaori, Satoshi, et al. Potent Inhibition of Human Cytochrome P450 3A Isoforms by Cannabidiol: Role of Phenolic Hydroxyl Groups in the Resorcinol Moiety. 10 Feb. 2011, www.medicinalgenomics.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Potent-inhibition-of-CYP3A-with-CBD.pdf.
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