Major Uses

Hydrocortisone is prescribed to animals as a replacement for glucocorticoid activity in patients with adrenal insufficiency, as an anti-inflammatory agent, or as an immuno-suppressive. Addison's disease, which can occur in young to middle-aged dogs, is an example of adrenal insufficiency. Addison's disease is very rare in cats. The drug can also be used for rheumatic diseases, collagen diseases, allergic states, respiratory diseases, dermatologic diseases, hematologic disorders, neoplasias, nervous system disorders, GI diseases and renal diseases.

Common Precautions

Hydrocortisone may result in stomach ulcers. This drug should not be used with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Hydrocortisone should be avoided with animals that have fungal infections, liver or kidney repairmen, or stomach ulcers.

Negative reactions tend to appear with long-term administration of this drug, especially if given at high doses. Glucocorticoids can stunt growth in young, growing animals. Adverse effects in dogs may consist of dull, dry haircoat, weight gain, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated liver enzymes, pancreatitis, GI ulceration, lipidemias, activation or worsening of diabetes mellitus, muscle wasting and behavioral changes. Adverse effects from anti-inflammatory use are typically uncommon.

If hydrocortisone is used for an extended period of time, the animal should be weaned off slowly over several weeks. Abrupt discontinuation of the medication can result in more serious adverse side effects. Hydrocortisone should not be used in animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug.


Hydrocortisone tablets and hydrocortisone sodium succinate (HSS) should be stored in tightly sealed containers, protected from light. They should be stored at a controlled room temperature of 68-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Both solutions should only be used if clear and should be discarded if not used after three days.


Hydrocortisone is available in tablet form as well as suspension and injectable concentrations. The tablets come in 5mg, 10mg and 20 mg. Hydrocortisone is also available in 2mg/ml suspension and 25 mg/ml and 50 mg/ml injection concentrations.

For anti-inflammatory use, the animal is usually prescribed 1 to 2.5 mg per pound twice daily. Hydrocortisone is dosed at 0.1 to 0.3 mg per pound once daily for Addison's disease. The prescription should be completed in full and not discontinued abruptly.

Doses may vary in different species, when the drug is given by a different route or concurrently with other medication, and with regards to a patient's age, breed, and health status. A veterinarian's dosing instruction and/or those printed on the medication label should be followed closely.

This information is for general reference only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition of your pet. It's intended as a general reference, this information may not include all possible uses, precautions, directions, reactions (including allergic), drug interactions, or withdrawal times. Always consult your local veterinarian and have your pet examined for any advice concerning the diagnosis and treatment of your pet, including which products and doses are most appropriate. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners. VetDepot is not a pharmacy. All prescription products are dispensed by our Pharmacy Partner. Article last updated 2/2014.