Generic Drug Name: Betamethasone
Other Common Names: Celestone, Betasone
Betamethasone is a corticosteroid hormone in a drug class known as glucocorticoids. It is used in many species commonly to reduce and calm inflammation, itching, and allergies. The drug works by inhibiting the body's natural immune system responses and easing swelling and some allergic reactions. It prevents the release of substances in the body that cause inflammation. It is very potent and long-acting; about 25-40 times more potent than hydrocortisone.
If betamethasone is given at high doses for long periods of time, more adverse reactions can be seen. These effects can appear as clinical signs of Cushing's disease. Some examples of side effects of long-term use that can occur in canine patients include: gastrointestinal ulceration, dull or dry coat, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, heightened liver enzymes, and behavioral changes. With short-term treatment, polyuria (increased urine), polydipsia (increased thirst), and polyphagia (increased appetite) may also be seen. Adverse reactions are more common when betamethasone is prescribed to treat immune system activity, rather than anti-inflammatory issues. Cats typically do not develop as many adverse reactions, however, polyuria, polydipsia, polyphagia, weight gain, or depression can be seen. The pet's veterinarian should be contacted if any reactions persist; administration may need to be withdrawn or a different medication may need to be substituted. Betamethasone should be used with caution in animals prone to ulcers, diabetic animals, animals with renal failure, and pregnant animals.
Drug interactions with betamethasone have been reported, so the pet's veterinarian needs to be informed of all medications, vitamins, and supplements the pet is taking before administration of the drug. Some examples of medications that may interact include: aspirin, cyclosporine, digoxin, insulin, ulcerogenic drugs, and live vaccines.
Betamethasone should not be administered to animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug or other glucocorticoids.
Betamethasone tablets, as well as the injectable, should be stored in childproof, light resistant containers at 35°-86° F. Care should be taken to keep the drug from extreme cold or heat.
Betamethasone is available in tablet and injectable form. For dogs and cats, a typical dose for anti-inflammatory treatments is 0.05-0.1 mg/lb (0.1-0.2 mg/kg) and for immunosuppressive effects is 0.1-0.25 mg/lb (0.2-0.5 mg/kg) by mouth every 12-24 hours. Doses may vary in different species, when the drug is given by a different route or concurrently with other medications, and with regards to a patient's age, breed, and health status. A veterinarian's dosing instructions and/or those printed on the medication label should be followed closely.
If a dose is missed the prescribing veterinarian should be contacted for further instructions.