The Pet Doctor

When Your Vet Prescribes Prednisone For Itchy Skin

If you take your dog to the vet because he or she has itchy skin, the vet will generally work with you to figure out the underlying cause of the itching. It could be anything from a food allergy to a sensitivity to dust mites. While you are working to identify the underlying cause, though, the vet will typically prescribe prednisone, a medication that will ease your dog's itching and irritation. Here's a closer look at this medication and how it affects your dog.

What is prednisone?

Prednisone falls into the class of drugs known as steroids. No, this does not mean it will make your dog into a tough body builder! It just helps activate some of the processes in the body that reduce inflammation. Sometimes, your vet may prescribe a medication called prednisolone instead of prednisone. This is almost the same thing. A dog's body metabolizes prednisone into prednisolone, so giving prednisolone directly just allows the body to skip that step.

How do you give prednisone?

Whether your vet prescribes prednisone or prednisolone, you will generally be instructed to give it to your dog twice a day. Then, after 10 days or so, you'll step back to giving it once a day. This gives your dog's body to adjust to not having the medication anymore before you take them off it completely. Prednisone is almost always given in pill form. It's a small pill you can wrap in a piece of cheese and easily give to your dog.

What are the side effects of prednisone?

Some dogs do experience side effects from prednisone, but thankfully, they are minor. Your dog may be more thirsty than usual, and they may urinate more because they are drinking more. They may also experience an increase in appetite. For some dogs, this means they may beg for food or be more interested in your meals than they typically are.

Will the prednisone cure your dog's itching forever?

Not usually. The prednisone is more of a short-term solution to stop the itching in its tracks while you and your vet figure out why your dog is itching in the first place. If you don't figure out what the cause is and your dog continues to be exposed to the substance that is making them itch, then the itching is likely to return after your dog has been off prednisone for a while.

Prednisone is a really helpful medication for dogs who are itchy. It can provide relief with only mild side effects while you and your vet work towards a more permanent solution. 

To learn more, contact a vet.