Generic Drug Name: Prednisolone
Prednisolone is a glucocorticoid hormone and type of catabolic steroid used in cats and dogs. It is used primarily to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system, but it may also be used in the treatment of Addison's disease, certain cancers, and central nervous system disorders. Prednisolone may also help treat shock, asthma, colitis, lupus, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, and high blood calcium levels.
Prednisolone is related to prednisone. In fact, prednisone is converted into prednisolone by the liver. In animals with a liver condition or other disorder that prevents them from efficiently converting prednisone, prednisolone becomes the drug of choice.
Excessive thirst and excessive urination are the two most common side effects associated with use of prednisolone. These side effects are a result of the drug's salt conservation activity in the kidneys. In animals with congestive heart failure, this salt conservation effect can be serious and necessitates the selection of another steroid. Weight gain, delayed healing, panting, vomiting, behavior changes, and diarrhea are also possible.
Like other glucocorticoids, prednisolone can cause stomach irritation at higher doses. The drug may also cause high blood sugar levels when taken at higher doses.
Higher doses are also known to cause significant immune system suppression and increase the risk of serious infections. Any animal that develops fever, painful urination, coughing, tiredness, sneezing, or runny eyes while being treated with prednisolone should be seen by a veterinarian.
Long-term use can lead to weakness, muscle loss, and the development of Cushing's disease, hypothyroidism, pancreatitis, and diabetes.
Because the body ceases production of natural steroid hormones once prednisolone is introduced, a tapering process is necessary before discontinuing long-term treatment with the drug. Abruptly stopping long-term therapy can cause signs and symptoms of Addison's disease, including weakness, vomiting, collapse, and sudden death.
Prednisolone should not be used in animals with a history of recent or current infections. Latent infections may reappear or worsen after beginning therapy with prednisolone. Cats with a history of upper respiratory infections and dogs with a history of bladder infections, especially, should use prednisolone with caution.
This medication is not safe for use during pregnancy. It has been shown to cause abortion. Animals with diabetes should not take prednisolone unless there is no other option. Prednisolone may alter liver enzyme blood test results and interfere with thyroid disease tests. It may also cause abnormal levels of cholesterol and potassium on tests.
Prednisolone is known to interact with a number of other medications and supplements, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, insulin, phenobarbital, cyclosporine, rifampin, modified live vaccines, phenytoin, estrogens, mitotane, erythromycin, furosemide, amphotericin B, or thiazide.
Prednisolone should not be used in animals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to the drug. Short-term overdose does not typically cause symptoms. Chronic overdose of prednisolone can cause symptoms of diabetes or Cushing's disease. Any known or suspected overdose should be reported to a veterinarian immediately.
Prednisolone should be stored at room temperature, away from light, and out of the reach of children and animals.
Prednisolone is available in tablet form in strengths of 5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg.
Dosing in cats and dogs depends on many factors. Generally, a higher starting dose is used to obtain control of symptoms, and then it is gradually reduced to the lowest effective dose.
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 of prednisolone is missed, it should be taken as soon as possible. If it is almost time for the next dose, the missed dose should be skipped and the normal schedule resumed. Two doses of this medication should not be given at once.