Lymphoma, also referred to as lymphosarcoma, is the third leading cancer type diagnosed in dogs. Over here, the affected parts are lymphocytes and tissues of the lymphatic system. While it can affect dogs of any age group, those of 6 years and above are more susceptible to this malignant tumor. Prednisone is used as a supplementary treatment for canine lymphoma. Before we discuss prednisone for dogs with lymphoma, let's take a brief look at the action of this prescription drug and its uses.
What is Prednisone?
Prednisone is grouped under the corticosteroid type of drugs. It works by inhibiting the secretion of certain inflammatory substances (prostaglandins) in the body, thus acting as an immunosuppressive drug. Hence, this corticosteroid is commonly prescribed for several types of ailments like skin disorders, allergic reactions, arthritis, breathing problems and colitis amongst others. In pet cats and dogs, this synthetic steroid is advocated for treating autoimmune disorders, malignant tumor and other similar medical emergency cases.
Canine Lymphoma and Prednisone: An Overview
Nothing could be more painful than seeing your cuddly pet afflicted with cancer. And every dog owner wants to give the best treatment for canine lymphoma. In a dog with lymphoma, the body's natural defense system is no longer functioning properly. And there is no particular site that gets affected by canine lymphoma. Rather cancerous cells are present in nearly all body parts, including the lymph nodes, nose, nervous system, alimentary canal and kidneys. Thus, prompt treatment for canine lymphoma is a challenge in veterinary science. Detailed information on the usage of prednisone for dogs with lymphoma is highlighted below.
Is Prednisone Safe for Dogs with Lymphoma?
Being a type of steroid medication, prednisone does have its plus and minus points. Hence, the safety of prednisone for pet dogs depends upon the purpose of administering it. Like for instance, if the effectiveness of the drug outweighs the adverse reactions, or if there is no other medication that is as potent as prednisone, then the vet will recommend this corticosteroid drug. With caution, oral prednisone is directed for a specific period to ease canine lymphoma symptoms.
Effectiveness of Prednisone for Dogs
While treating dogs with lymphoma, a multidrug therapy (MDT) is usually recommended, and one of the prescription medications is oral prednisone. This steroid drug reduces inflammation, swelling and other discomfort symptoms. Amongst the reported cases of canine lymphoma, approximately 50% pets responded to oral prednisone treatment. In simple words, it is advocated as a complementary drug to the chemotherapy protocol for canine lymphoma.
Precautions to be Taken
At the time of giving this anti-inflammatory drug to dogs with lymphoma, certain precautionary steps are taken into consideration. First of all, the sick dog should not be allergic to synthetic corticosteroid and similar medications. Secondly, prednisone is not recommended for pets having fungal infections. Thirdly, it should not be given in conjunction with aspirin and other drugs that cause interaction effects. Last but not the least, prednisone should be used alone or along with other drugs based on the treatment goals.
Prednisone Dosage for Dogs
While using prednisone for dogs with lymphoma, dosage is decided according to the treatment protocol, body weight, stage of cancer and many other factors. In general, a higher dose is recommended initially, and it is reduced gradually in the later part of treatment. Prednisone advocated alone is shown to lower the potency of other chemotherapy drugs afterwards. Hence, deciding what is best for the pet is a prerequisite prior to giving oral prednisone for canine lymphoma treatment.
Are there any Side Effects?
Advocating prednisone to dogs with lymphoma is not free of adverse effects. The pet dog who receives this synthetic steroid is most likely to urinate often and drink more water than usual. During the initial treatment phase, urination after every 2-3 hours is expected. The frequency will reduce after drug dosage is minimized. Other possible prednisone side effects in dogs are changes in appetite, panting, loss of hair, vomiting, lethargy and depression. So, give proper support and spend sufficient time to make the pet dog comfortable during the treatment period.
The bottom line is, using prednisone for canine lymphoma should be proceeded only under the strict guidance of a veterinarian. Since this type of cancer affects the lymphatic tissues, the life expectancy of afflicted pets is relatively low. Without therapeutic intervention, they usually survive for 1½ months or even less than that. Fortunately, the survival rate of dogs diagnosed with lymphosarcoma is increased with updated treatment options. When prednisone is given alone, the objective is mainly symptom management, and it doesn't increase the length of survival.