Understanding Prednisolone/Prednisone: A Versatile Medication for Various Conditions


When it comes to treating a range of conditions in different species, prednisolone/prednisone (brand names: Prednis-Tab®, Deltasone®, Rayos®, Pediapred®) stands out as a reliable glucocorticoid. With its diverse applications, including replacement therapy for Addison’s disease, anti-inflammatory purposes, immune suppression, and as an antineoplastic agent for cancer treatment, this medication has proven its effectiveness.

Although prednisone and prednisolone are separate drugs, the liver quickly converts prednisone into prednisolone, making them bioequivalent. This unique quality ensures that both drugs are equally absorbed by the body.

It is important to note that while some products are specifically labeled for use in certain animals with particular conditions, treating inflammation, immune-mediated diseases, Addison’s disease, and neoplasia in cats, dogs, horses, small mammals, birds, and reptiles often involves “off-label” or “extra-label” use. This is not uncommon in veterinary medicine, where many drugs are prescribed off-label. In such cases, it is crucial to carefully follow your veterinarian’s instructions and heed their cautions, as they may differ significantly from the directions on the label.

Administering Prednisolone/Prednisone: Dosage and Timing

Prednisolone/prednisone can be administered orally in the form of tablets or liquid solutions. It is advisable to give this medication with food. In certain situations, it may also be given as an injection in a hospital setting. If your pet is on a once-daily dosing regimen, try to administer it in the morning for dogs and horses, and in the evening for cats. To avoid complications, it is crucial not to abruptly stop this medication; instead, gradually lower the dosage.

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It is important to note that if your pet is scheduled for allergy testing in the next month, unless instructed otherwise by your veterinarian, avoid giving them this medication during that period.

Prednisolone/prednisone typically takes effect within 1 to 2 hours, with improvement in clinical signs following shortly after.

Missed Dose? Here’s What to Do

If you accidentally miss a dose, administer it as soon as you remember. However, if it is close to the time for the next dose, it is best to skip the missed dose and give the medication at the next scheduled time. Never double the dose or provide extra doses.

Potential Side Effects to Look Out For

While prednisolone/prednisone is generally well-tolerated, there are some common side effects to be aware of. These include increased drinking, increased urination, and increased appetite. At higher doses or with long-term use, additional side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, mild behavioral changes, and panting may occur.

It is crucial to recognize the serious side effects that warrant immediate veterinary attention. These include gastrointestinal ulceration (characterized by a lack of appetite, black or bloody stools, bloody vomit, or high fever), haircoat changes, pot belly, weight gain, weakness, liver and lipid elevations, aggressive behavior, muscle wasting, abnormally low energy, or diabetes (characterized by weight loss despite a good appetite, excessive thirst, and urination).

In most cases, the effects of this short-acting medication should cease within 24 hours. However, pets with liver or kidney disease may experience a longer duration of effects.

Identifying Potential Risk Factors

Prednisolone/prednisone should not be used in pets that are allergic to it. Additionally, it should not be administered to pets with systemic fungal infections (unless being used to treat Addison’s disease), viral infections, ulcers, tuberculosis, or Cushing’s disease. Caution is advised when using this medication in pets with diabetes, heart or vascular disease, other types of infections, osteoporosis, cataracts, high blood pressure, or kidney disease. Young animals should receive prednisolone/prednisone with caution as it can stunt their growth. Pregnant or lactating pets, as well as those receiving medications that can cause ulcers, should be treated with extreme care when using prednisolone/prednisone.

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For cats, horses, and pets with liver dysfunction, it is important to use prednisolone instead of prednisone, as they cannot efficiently convert the latter into prednisolone.

Potential Drug Interactions to Consider

When giving prednisolone/prednisone, exercise caution when using the following medications: amphotericin B, anticholinesterases, aspirin, barbiturates, bupropion, cholestyramine, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, digoxin, potassium-depleting diuretics, ephedrine, estrogens, fluroquinolones, insulin, ketoconazole, macrolide antibiotics, mitotane, mycophenolate, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), phenobarbital, rifampin, vaccines, or warfarin.

It is important to inform your veterinarian about any medications, including vitamins, supplements, or herbal therapies, that your pet is taking.

Monitoring and Storage

Monitoring requirements will vary based on the reason for use, dosage, duration of therapy, and your pet’s health status. Routine monitoring may include bloodwork, urinalysis, blood sugar levels, ACTH stimulation tests, weight and appetite assessment, observation of swelling, and surveillance for serious side effects. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate monitoring plan based on your pet’s needs.

Store prednisolone/prednisone tablets in a tightly closed container at room temperature, ideally between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C), avoiding temperatures exceeding 104°F (40°C). Liquid forms should be stored according to the instructions on the bottle label.

Emergency Situations: What to Do

In the event of a suspected overdose or adverse reaction to the medication, contact your veterinary office immediately. If they are unavailable, follow their instructions for reaching an emergency facility.

Remember, when it comes to the well-being of our furry friends, it is always crucial to consult professionals and follow their guidance. For more information on pet care and treatment options, visit Katten TrimSalon.