Taper Back Prednisone for Dog’s Back Problem

Long-term, high doses of prednisone for dog’s back problem can have serious side effects.

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Q. How long can I leave my 6-year-old Dachshund on prednisone? She has been on it for at least two months with no side effects. I don’t want her to have surgery. I am sure this covers up the problem, but she eats, sleeps, poops and pees just fine.

A. Prednisone can be an effective alternative treatment to surgery for dogs who are having disc problems in their backs. Generally, if a dog is walking, surgery is not needed. Medical treatment with a steroid like prednisone makes sense. Prednisone helps relieve the swelling of the spinal cord that can lead to back pain and difficulty walking.

If a dog is unable to walk due to a disc problem in the back, or is partially paralyzed, surgery is usually the first choice, treatment-wise.

Although prednisone can have inconvenient side effects such as increased water intake, urination, increased appetite and panting, there can be some serious effects on the liver over time that you may not notice. The steroids can cause liver inflammation and a hormonal imbalance that can lead to Cushing’s disease.

To prevent causing liver damage and Cushing’s disease, your dog should be gradually weaned off the prednisone by reducing the dose over time. Eventually you may not need to give it at all. The reason for tapering the prednisone dose is that if you stop it suddenly, the adrenal glands may not be able to adjust to making it again so abruptly, leading to serious hormonal imbalances.

Ask your veterinarian about tapering the prednisone down to the lowest possible dose, or eliminating it entirely. You can always restart it if your Dachshund’s back problem returns.

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Greg   Ann Arbor, MI

5/24/2010 2:34:04 PM

My Dog is a Coocker mix 23lbs 14 years old. On 4-9-10 She eat sometime (dead like a bird) or we had an ecoil out break due that time; she tested negative comb est for auto-immune the vet said auto-immune can hid an she could have a false negative. Anyway she poo alot of blood that day her red cell went down to 23. The vet put her on 5mg of prednisone twice a day then one every other day now every 2 days. Her red cells are back to 48. Last blood test her platelets were slightly lower than before the tapper. She is doing great. I read papaya leaf exact would boost her platelets. I also feed her spot stew salmon wet and dry and natru vet pro-biotic digestive enzymes, kelp help, athira-gold and aloe-Vera gel. I'm look at ori jen fish dog food. Should I keep her away from the small dog dog park?

Feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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Maggie   Toronto, ON

10/27/2008 12:42:29 PM

My dog just started Prednisone for back problems, specifically what seems like a herniated disk according to xrays. He walks well, but seems to get tired after 1/2 a block and begins to have pain. After resting a while he's back to normal. He has been on Prednisone for 4 days. I would like to know if the effects of Prednisone start right away or if it's gradual. Will we see improvement. Is Prednisode dsage based on weight? He is 19.2 lbs. and is getting 5mg twice a day. He is starting laser therapy.

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