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Why pet owners are switching to online vet care with Dutch

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  • Unlimited video visits and follow-ups

As a devoted pet parent, ensuring your dog's well-being is a priority. When dogs face health issues like allergies, autoimmune disorders, arthritis, or skin conditions, they may need medication. 

One common medication used to treat a variety of health issues in dogs is prednisone. This corticosteroid alleviates inflammation and suppresses immune responses. Understanding this medication, how it works, and what it's used for can help you make the right decision for your canine companion. Keep reading to learn about prednisone and dogs and learn tips for dogs on prednisone.

What is Prednisone and How Does it Work in Dogs?

Prednisone is a corticosteroid that belongs to a class of drugs known as glucocorticoids.1 Made from cortisone, it modulates the immune system's response and reduces inflammation. So, what does prednisone do for dogs? Prednisone in dogs is a versatile medication used to treat a variety of health issues ranging from allergies and skin conditions to arthritis.1 

Prednisone mimics the action of cortisol, a hormone naturally produced in the adrenal glands. Cortisol is responsible for regulating various processes, including metabolism, immune response, and the body's stress response. 

Prednisone is a potent anti-inflammatory agent that inhibits the activity of certain immune cells and suppresses the release of inflammatory substances in the body, ultimately alleviating inflammation and suppressing the immune system.2 This process helps alleviate swelling, redness, and discomfort associated with inflammatory conditions, providing relief to dogs. 

Potential Side Effects of Prednisone in Dogs

While prednisone is considered safe, like any medication, it must be administered with caution and under the guidance of a veterinarian to reduce the risk of adverse reactions. Understanding the potential side effects can help you know what you need to monitor for and when to seek veterinary attention if any concerning symptoms arise. 

Common prednisone side effects in dogs include: 

  • Increased thirst and urination: The medication can lead to an imbalance in the body's water levels or fluid retention, causing dogs to drink more than usual and urinate more frequently. 
  • Changes in appetite: Prednisone can cause changes in appetite that lead to weight gain or loss. You should carefully monitor your dog's eating habits and body condition while on this medication. 
  • GI upset: Prednisone can cause GI upset in the form of vomiting or diarrhea. 
  • Infection susceptibility: Prednisone can impact the immune system, making dogs more susceptible to infections.2 

While your dog is taking prednisone, your vet will schedule regular checkups to assess your dog's overall health while taking the medication and address any pressing concerns. You should communicate openly with your vet and report any observed changes in health or behavior to ensure your pet's well-being. 

Prednisone Dosage for Dogs

Veterinarians typically prescribe prednisone for dogs in the form of tablets or oral solutions, and the dosage is measured in milligrams (mg). The goal is to achieve the desired therapeutic effect while avoiding unnecessary risks associated with excessive doses. Pet parents should follow the vet's prescribed dosage and administration instructions to prevent side effects. 

The prednisone dosage for dogs is often determined based on their weight. A common starting dose may range from 0.5 to 1 mg per kg of body weight.3 The initial dose is administered once or twice daily, depending on the condition being treated. 

Your vet may adjust the dosage over time based on the dog's response to treatment and any observed prednisone side effects in dogs. 

What Does Prednisone Do for Dogs?

Prednisone for dogs can be highly effective, but it may not be suitable for every dog. Instances when your vet may recommend prednisone include: 

  • Inflammatory conditions: Prednisone is often used to address inflammation associated with conditions like arthritis, skin allergies, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It works by suppressing the immune response, which reduces inflammation and alleviates symptoms. 
  • Allergies: Dogs experiencing allergic reactions or immune system disorders may benefit from prednisone to manage symptoms and prevent further complications. 
  • Chronic conditions: For chronic illnesses with an inflammatory component, such as autoimmune disorders, prednisone may be included as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to enhance your dog's quality of life.4 

Keep in mind that the use of prednisone for dogs depends on the particular dog. There are some dogs that should not take prednisone. For instance, dogs with diabetes typically aren't prescribed prednisone since it can elevate blood glucose levels. Additionally, prednisone is typically not recommended for dogs with heart and liver conditions.4 

Pregnant and nursing dogs should also not take prednisone because its safety has not been well-established. 

Alternatives to Prednisone for Dogs

While prednisone can be an effective treatment for various canine conditions, some pet parents may wonder about alternatives due to concerns about potential side effects or contraindications. Fortunately, there are several alternatives to prednisone for dogs, each with its unique advantages and considerations. Here are a few potential options: 

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs like carprofen and meloxicam reduce inflammation. They're most commonly used to treat arthritis and pain, including post-operative pain in dogs. 
  • Antihistamines: Antihistamines like diphenhydramine or cetirizine are allergy medicines for dogs that block histamine receptors, reducing allergic reactions and inflammation. They're commonly used to treat mild allergic reactions, skin irritation, itching, and hives. 
  • Apoquel: Apoquel is neither an antihistamine nor a steroid; it's an anti-inflammation and anti-itch medication that modulates the immune system. This medication is typically used for dogs suffering from skin allergies to provide rapid relief from itching without the side effects of steroids. 
  • Joint supplements: Prescription medications for dogs aren't the only answer. Supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate support joint health and may have anti-inflammatory effects that can help manage arthritis and joint disorders. 
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy and massages can help manage musculoskeletal conditions in dogs without relying solely on medication. This may be recommended after surgery or for arthritis management. 

FAQs About Prednisone for Dogs

How long should a dog stay on prednisone?

How long a dog should stay on prednisone depends on the specific condition being treated, the response to the medication, and the vet's recommendations. The duration your dog is on the medication is determined on a case-by-case basis. 

Keep in mind that prednisone is often prescribed for short-term use to address acute conditions. In these cases, a typical course may last a few days to a few weeks, providing quick relief while minimizing the risk of long-term side effects.4 

However, some chronic conditions may require a more extended course of prednisone. Veterinarians will carefully balance the need for symptom management with the potential risks of prolonged corticosteroid use. 

When prednisone is used for long periods, vets typically recommend a gradual tapering of the dosage. Abruptly stopping prednisone, especially after a few months, can lead to serious side effects.2 

Regardless of the duration, dogs on prednisone should be closely monitored for potential side effects, including increased thirst, urination, appetite, and behavior changes. Those on long-term prednisone therapy typically require regular checkups to assess their overall health, monitor for side effects, and adjust the treatment plan as needed.

Is it possible for a dog to overdose on prednisone?

Yes, it's possible for a dog to overdose on prednisone, and an overdose can have serious consequences. Prednisone is a corticosteroid medication that should be administered according to the vet's prescribed dosage and schedule. Your dog can overdose if you give them too much over a short period or if you consistently exceed the prescribed dosage. 

Symptoms of a medication overdose in dogs include: 

  • Excessive thirst and urination
  • Panting
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy5

If your dog has overdosed on prednisone, immediately contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary services. Be prepared to provide information on the dog's weight, the amount of prednisone taken, and the timing of the doses. 

Overdoses are preventable. Administer the medication strictly according to the vet's instructions and make sure to attend regular vet checkups to monitor the dog's response to the medication and adjust the dosage when needed. 

Are there drug interactions of prednisone dog owners should be aware of?

It's important to tell your vet about any other medications or supplements your dog is on to ensure their welfare. There are several drug interactions you should know when using prednisone. Interactions can occur when prednisone is administered alongside other medications. Your vet can assess potential interactions and adjust treatment plans accordingly. 

Some common drug interactions with prednisone to be aware of include: 

  • NSAIDs: Concurrent use of prednisone for dogs with NSAIDs can increase the risk of gastrointestinal issues.6 
  • Diuretics: Prednisone can enhance the effects of diuretics, leading to increased fluid loss. This may result in dehydration.2 
  • Insulin or diabetes medication: Prednisone can elevate blood glucose levels, potentially impacting the effectiveness of insulin or oral diabetes medications. If your dog has diabetes, your vet will suggest regular monitoring of blood glucose levels at home. 
  • Immunosuppressive drugs: Combining prednisone with other immunosuppressive medications may increase the risk of infections. 
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Final Notes

While prednisone for dogs is a versatile medication, pet parents should be aware of potential side effects and always follow the prescribed dosages. Regular veterinary checkups and open communication with your veterinarian are essential components of responsible pet care and ensuring the best for your furry family members. 

For convenient and accessible veterinary care, try our online vet service. Dutch gives pet parents the convenience of virtual vet visits to discuss their dog's health concerns with licensed vets from the comfort of their homes. Our vets provide expert advice, and you can have prescriptions delivered to your doorstep. Sign up for Dutch today and ensure your dog receives the care they deserve.


  1. "Prednisolone/Prednisone." VIN,

  2. Howe, Stephanie. "Prednisone and Prednisolone." PetMD, July 2022,

  3. "Table: Drugs Used to Stimulate Appetite." MSD Veterinary Manual,

  4. Donovan, Liz. "Prednisone for Dogs." American Kennel Club, 7 July 2023,

  5. Elfenbein, Hanie. “Drug Poisoning in Dogs.” PetMD, 1 Mar. 2019,

  6. "Get the Facts about Pain Relievers for Pets." U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA,

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Dutch?

Dutch is an online veterinary pet telehealth service, created by pet parents and board-certified veterinary specialists. We use a science-backed approach to provide pets relief for their everyday physical and behavioral health issues. Dutch connects you with licensed veterinarians over video chat and messaging to help you get care for your dog or cat quickly wherever you are — without the stress or expense of a vet visit. We also partner with pharmacies who can deliver prescription medication (in applicable states only) and over-the-counter treatments directly to your door. Dutch isn’t a veterinary practice or pharmacy, but a company that helps facilitate these services for pet parents to make veterinary care more accessible to all.

What is a visit with Dutch like?

When booking a video call with a vet, you'll be asked a few questions about your pet’s health issue. Depending on the issue, you may also be asked to fill out a longer questionnaire about their symptoms and share photographs of them so our veterinarians can better understand what’s going on. You’ll then pick an appointment time that works best for you.

During your video call, one of our licensed veterinarians will talk to you about the symptoms your pet is experiencing, ask you questions, review your pet’s medical history if you’ve provided it, and answer any questions you have. The vet will ask to see your pet and their environment. And they may ask you to perform some simple checks on them if needed.

After your video call, the vet will send you a message with a custom treatment plan to help your pet feel better, including a link to buy any recommended prescription or over-the-counter medications. Place your order and we’ll ship it free.

How much will it cost for Dutch to treat my pet?

The Dutch membership starts at $11/mo for unlimited access to the vet. No more long waits for appointments or surprise bills.

In addition to the base membership plan, our veterinarians may also recommend additional medication (Rx and/or OTC) that you will have the option of adding to your plan at an additional cost.