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Dexamethasone for Dogs: Uses and Side Effects

The administration of dexamethasone to dogs has, indeed, proven beneficial for the treatment of various health conditions. However, there are various possible side effects that could arise as a result of improper use. This article provides some information about the uses and side effects that are associated with this drug.
DogAppy Staff
The administration of dexamethasone to young dogs is best avoided. This is mainly because of immune suppression and the possible risk of gastrointestinal ulcers.
Dexamethasone is a powerful drug or a type of steroid medication. Furthermore, it is a synthetic corticosteroid having anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant effects, and is stronger when compared with other corticosteroids. However, it can also be administered to dogs mainly for the treatment of inflammation and allergies. Moreover, it is approved for usage by the FDA. It can be administered in the form of tablets or injections. The dosage would depend on the condition that is being treated as well as the dog's response to the treatment.

It is due to the presence of glucocorticoid in this drug that helps with the many natural functions of the body.
● It is a prescription drug and may be used to treat a number of health conditions such as asthma, hives, allergies, skin-related disorders, nervous system disease, emergency shock, arthritis, thrombocytopenia, inflammation, nephrotic syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, neoplasia, eye-related problems, etc.
● It provides relief from inflammation pain and allergy-associated rashes, and reduces swelling.
● In combination with other drugs, it may be used to treat severe infections related to the eye, ear, and skin.
● It may also be used in high doses in a systematic manner for treating emergency cases of trauma or shock to the spinal cord and anaphylactic reactions.
● It is also said to be used in the treatment of some cancers.
● It may be administered to dogs before and after surgery with antibiotics to help with the healing process and prevent infections.
Side Effects
Though this drug may prove beneficial in treating various health conditions, there are certain possible side effects that are associated with its use. Moreover, it is believed that these side effects result when the medication has been stopped abruptly after several weeks of usage. That is, in order to prevent the side effects, the dosage would have to be decreased gradually.
● These possible side effects include vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), weakness and inactivity, panting, increase in appetite (or changes in appetite), increased thirst, stomach irritation, urinary tract infection, weight loss, more susceptibility to bacterial and viral infections, drowsiness, hyperglycemia, gastric ulcers, etc.
● Prolonged use may lead to muscle loss, polyuria, and adrenal insufficiency.
● Inappropriate and extended (for a very long duration) usage may also give rise to fatal hormonal and metabolic changes.
● It can affect pregnancy and cause termination of the same. The use of this drug also needs to be avoided during lactation.
● An overdose of any kind that is with short-term or long-term usage can be harmful. Though the severity is rare in short-term cases, long-term administration may cause iatrogenic Cushing's disease and suppression of normal adrenal function.
Points to Consider
● It is important to know that this drug has the tendency to react with certain other drugs. Thus, its use in combination with them needs to be avoided. These include aspirin, cyclosporine, insulin, rimadyl, digoxin, amphotericin, caprofen, meloxicam, etc. Thus, it is necessary to inform the veterinarian about any medications that are already being used by your pet before using dexamethasone. This will rule out the possibility of any complications that may arise.
● It may be unsafe to administer this drug to a dog that is already affected by a certain health condition. That is, dexamethasone should not be administered when your dog is affected by health conditions such as diabetes, problems associated with the heart or kidney, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, Cushing's syndrome, eye disease, seizures, infections, etc.
● The use of this drug should also be avoided during pregnancy.
On observation of any of the aforementioned side effects, you should take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. You should never administer this medication to your pet without the approval of the veterinarian. If recommended, you need to follow the instructions for the administration and dosage with extreme care.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and should not be substituted for the advice of a professional veterinarian.