Steroids in dogs; do the benefits outweigh the potential side effects?
Steroid usage in dogs is one of the most controversial subjects that face not only the medical community, but every owner.
There is one side of owners with this argument that favors the use of steroids, and as a result commonly asks their veterinarians to use them.
However, there is another side the will get angry at the simple mention of using them in any type of a situation on their pet.
There are several documented cases that some dogs are alive today as the result of the usage of steroids.
There are also cases where dogs are living longer and more comfortable as the result of this grouping of drugs.
But as well documented as these cases are, there is a huge list of potential side effects that can range from mild to life threatening as a result of their usage.
Most every veterinarian clinic in the world will have steroids, and there are numerous forms to select from.
They will include inject able forms, tablets, as well as several different topical forms.
These forms include creams, ointments, or skin preparations.
In some cases they will be used alone or mixed with other medications for your dog.
They are most commonly used to fight inflammation as well as treating a pet that has gone into shock.
They are also commonly used to fight auto immune disorders where you own dogs system is attacking itself.
However, with all the good that they can do, every pet owner would be well advised to get a second opinion before you actually agree to use them.
If the dosage is too high for your pet, given for to long or used when they should not be used, the results may be catastrophic.
Understanding some of the side effects of steroids should be something every dog owner is fully aware of before saying yes.
Steroids in dogs can be your pet’s best friend in time of need, or they may be their worst enemy if they are not given correcting or are abused.
The following side effects are not all conclusive, and the actual number of side effects may shock the average owner.
Your loyal friend and companion will look to you for help when they are in need, and the side effects need to be discussed.
What makes some of the side effects so troubling is they may occur immediately after usage, or may not occur until they have long been discontinued.
The two most common side effects of steroids in dogs are an increased consumption of water as well as urination.
This is not a serious problem, unless you are away during the day and cannot let your dog out.
If your dog is well trained, it will automatically place a tremendous of stress as they will try to hold it the urine, but they will reach a point where they can no longer control themselves.
Steroids increase the activity of glomeruli, which are the filtration units within your dog’s kidneys.
This naturally causes your pet to excrete much more urine than normal and then as a result, they will develop and almost obsessive thirst.
These signs appear within hours of the usage of steroids.
However, if the dosage is too high for your pet, this condition may continue for several weeks to several months.
The next effect of steroids in dogs is with their appetite and there is no way to predict which direction your dog will go with this, but they will be affected.
In some cases, they will lose their appetite altogether, while another dog may suddenly develop a voracious appetite.
However, one of the most troubling of the side effects with steroids in pets is what may occur during pregnancy.
If steroids are given during a pregnancy, there have been several reported cases of it causing a dog to abort the litter. In other cases, it may cause infertility.
The infertility is usually only temporary, and returns to normal once the steroids are discontinued.
But any owner should now start to question why this happens.
The next potential side effects are immune suppression in your dog.
For all the good that steroids may do for your pet, this one side effect alone may be the reason not to use them.
Once they are initially used, if some pets are given higher dosages because the original is not effective, it can actually suppress their immune system.
This weakens your dog’s system and makes them much more vulnerable to fungal, viral, as well as bacterial infections.
Antibiotics are often used to help prevent this, but again, you should question why.
But the concerns of steroids in dogs do not end there; if fact, this is only the beginning.
The next potential side effect of steroids in dogs is a change in protein metabolism which can very easily lead to muscular weakness or atrophy.
This is the wasting away or a decrease in size of a body organs or tissues.
With any long term usage, this will become alarming apparent and may cause your pet to lose strength in their abdomen, or worst of all, their legs.
If your dog is a large breed and already faces muscular challenges, you really need to get a second opinion before saying yes to steroids.
Stomach and intestinal ulcers is yet another potential side effect of steroids in dogs, especially with the steroid form dexamethasone.
Steroids may also affect your pet’s liver and change the natural functions as it can increase the livers enzymes.
If this occurs, it opens the door for several different types of liver diseases.
These controversial drugs may also cause changes in your dog’s glucose metabolism, and as a result, intensify a diabetes problem or opens the door for the development of one.
If your dog is diabetic, this could have catastrophic results.
As the glucose is produced in excess, your dog’s blood sugar will begin to elevate. In some pets it may be gradual, while in others it could literally explode.
But what is even more frightening is that there is a growing concern that these drugs may actually cause diabetes to develop after any type of extended usage.
Calcium utilization with steroids in dogs, is the next concern, as they not only cause less calcium to be absorbed through your dog’s intestinal wall, they also cause excretion to occur through the kidneys.
Both of these by themselves are dangerous, but when combined, it will force your dog’s body to do the only thing it knows to do; take the needed calcium out of their bones.
But perhaps the most serious of all the side effects is what steroids do to your dog’s adrenal glands.
Your pet’s brain and pituitary glands are constantly monitoring the natural form of mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids that are produced.
If they become too low or too high, the correct levels will automatically be adjusted.
However, steroids can fool your pets system, and it will be unable to tell the difference between the synthetic forms from the natural forms.
As a result, it may accidentally shut down the production.
Once this occurs, even if the steroids are stopped immediately, they may not be able to start producing again.
This now has become a life threatening situation.
Steroids in dogs and the side effects still do not end here.
They can also cause a decreased removal of senescent red blood cells, a decreased proliferation of iron by your dog, as well as an increased absorption of fat.
The side effects must be examined and weighed very heavily in any decision to use steroids, as this is still not the complete list.
If your veterinarian does suggest steroids, do not hesitate to get a second opinion.
It is very easy to see why many so many owners actually get angry if you even mention the use of steroids.