Dog Acting Weird on Prednisone

Here are some potential behavioral side effects of prednisone in dogs:

  • Increased irritability or aggression
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Panting
  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Behavioral changes such as increased panting and restlessness
  • Other behavioral changes may include changes in activity level, interest in playing or going for walks, and changes in social interaction with family and other pets.

Prednisone can have different effects on different dogs and may not cause any behavioral changes in some dogs. Any behavioral changes should be closely monitored and discussed with your veterinarian as some of these changes may be indicative of underlying health issues and may require additional treatment.

What are the worst side effects of prednisone in dogs?

Here are some potential severe side effects of prednisone in dogs:

  • Gastroduodenal ulceration
  • Severe and often hemorrhagic colitis
  • Induction of diabetes mellitus
  • Severe liver disease
  • Renal disease as evidenced by proteinuria
  • Urinary tract infections
  • muscle weakness, severe muscle wasting primarily affecting the muscles of mastication
  • Secondary bacterial infections primarily involving the skin and the urinary tract

These severe side effects can occur with long-term use of prednisone and it’s essential to closely monitor the dog’s condition and adjust the therapeutic protocol if side effects become problematic or the condition does not respond.

How does prednisone make a dog feel?

Prednisone can have various effects on a dog’s physical and emotional well-being. Some possible effects include:

  • Increased energy and activity level
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Increased thirst and urination
  • Panting and restlessness
  • Development of “pot belly” appearance
  • Thin, fragile skin that bruises easily
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Behavioral changes such as aggression, anxiety, or depression
  • muscle weakness and muscle wasting

How long does it take for prednisone to wear off in dogs?

The duration of prednisone’s effects in dogs can vary depending on the dosage and frequency of administration. Prednisone has a half-life of approximately 2-4 hours in dogs, meaning that half of the drug will be eliminated from the body within that time frame. However, the duration of its effects can last much longer due to its ability to bind to receptors in the body.

In general, the effects of a single dose of prednisone will begin to wear off within 24 hours and will be fully eliminated within 48-72 hours. However, with long-term or high-dose administration, it can take several days to a week for the drug to fully clear the body and for the dog to return to its normal state.

The withdrawal of prednisone should be gradual, tapering the dosage over a period of time to prevent potential adverse effects. It’s also important to monitor the dog closely during this period, as some side effects may persist even after the drug has been eliminated from the body.

What happens if you stop prednisone suddenly in dogs?

Sudden discontinuation of corticosteroids, such as prednisone, in dogs can lead to a number of adverse effects, including:

  • Adrenal insufficiency: the adrenal glands may not be able to produce enough cortisol, a hormone necessary for maintaining normal body functions, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and weakness.
  • HPA axis suppression: prolonged use of corticosteroids suppresses the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which controls the body’s response to stress. This can lead to a lack of response to stressors and decreased ability to fight infections.
  • Rebound effect: certain symptoms that the corticosteroids were being used to treat may return in a more severe form than before treatment.
  • Gastrointestinal issues: corticosteroids can cause an increase in appetite and water intake, which can lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea when discontinued suddenly.
  • Behavioral changes: corticosteroids can affect the brain and behavior of dogs, causing changes such as restlessness and aggression. These changes may persist for some time after discontinuation.

The severity and duration of these side effects vary depending on the individual dog, the dosage and duration of the corticosteroid therapy, and the reason for discontinuation. It is recommended to work with a veterinarian to taper off corticosteroids gradually to minimize these side effects.

How long can a dog safely take prednisone?

The length of time that a dog can safely take prednisone depends on the condition being treated, the dosage, and the individual dog’s response. The goal of treatment should be to use the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible duration.

It is recommended to start with a short regimen and monitor the dog’s response carefully. In cases where the condition does not respond, or side effects become problematic, adjustments to the therapeutic protocol should be made.

Long-term use of prednisone can lead to more serious side effects, such as muscle weakness, gastroduodenal ulceration, diabetes mellitus, liver and renal disease. As such, it is important to have regular check-ups with the veterinarian and to discontinue use as soon as the condition improves.

In some cases, the veterinarian may suggest to use alternate-day therapy, which is administering the medication every other day, instead of every day, to minimize the side effects.

Tips for dogs on prednisone

Here are some potential tips for dogs on prednisone:

  • Gradually decrease the dosage when stopping treatment to prevent withdrawal symptoms
  • Monitor for signs of infection and seek prompt veterinary care if any are observed
  • Monitor body weight and adjust the diet accordingly
  • Provide regular exercise and maintain a healthy lifestyle
  • Monitor blood glucose levels if your dog is diabetic
  • Provide regular dental care
  • Provide a high-quality diet that is rich in antioxidants to help reduce inflammation
  • Avoid giving your dog any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) while on prednisone as they can increase the risk of stomach ulcers.
  • Monitor your dog’s behavior as prednisone may cause mood changes, lethargy and restlessness.
  • Ask your vet for regular blood tests to check the dog’s liver and kidney function, electrolyte levels and blood glucose, as long-term use of prednisone can affect these organs.

Should I limit my dog’s water while on prednisone?

The mineralocorticoid effects of corticosteroids such as prednisone can cause increased water consumption and urine output.

While it may be tempting to limit your dog’s water intake to prevent accidents, it is not recommended as it can lead to dehydration. Instead, it is important to monitor your dog’s water intake and urine output and discuss with your veterinarian about adjusting the dosage of prednisone or switching to a different medication if necessary.

Additionally, it is important to keep your dog’s environment clean and to provide frequent potty breaks to prevent accidents. If your dog is experiencing incontinence, your veterinarian may also recommend additional treatments such as pelvic muscle exercises, bladder-supportive diets, and medication to help manage the condition.

Why do dogs pant on prednisone?

Dogs pant as a means of thermoregulation or controlling their body temperature. Panting allows dogs to evaporate moisture from their tongues and the moist lining of their lungs, which cools their blood and helps lower their body temperature.

Prednisone, a steroid medication, can cause panting in dogs as a side effect. The exact mechanism by which prednisone leads to panting is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to the medication’s effects on the dog’s metabolism and hormonal balance.

Prednisone can also cause an increase in thirst and urination, which may contribute to panting as the dog tries to regulate its body temperature through the evaporation of moisture in the lungs and through the tongue.

Panting can be a sign of stress or anxiety in dogs, and prednisone may exacerbate these feelings. Additionally, in some cases, panting could be a sign of an adverse reaction to the medication and if this is observed the dog should be taken to the vet to check for any other symptoms and adjust the dosage or stop the medication.

It’s important to monitor your dog while they are on prednisone and contact your veterinarian if you notice excessive panting or any other unusual symptoms. Your vet can adjust the dosage or switch to a different medication if necessary.

Does prednisone make a dog’s legs weak?

According to studies, prednisone can cause muscle weakness in dogs by disrupting the normal balance of hormones and chemicals in the body. When the body is exposed to high levels of prednisone, it can decrease the production of natural hormones that help to regulate muscle function and strength. This can lead to a decline in muscle mass and function, which can result in weakness and difficulty moving.

In addition, prednisone can also affect the nervous system, causing damage to the nerves that control muscle movement. This can further contribute to muscle weakness and difficulty moving.

The severity of leg weakness caused by prednisone can vary depending on the dog’s individual response to the medication, as well as the dosage and duration of treatment. In some cases, the weakness may be mild and temporary, while in others, it may be more severe and long-lasting.

To minimize the risk of leg weakness, it is crucial to follow the veterinarian’s instructions for administering prednisone. This includes monitoring the dog’s response to the medication and adjusting the dosage as necessary. In some cases, the veterinarian may recommend supplementing the dog’s diet with additional vitamins and minerals to help support muscle health.

Conclusion of prednisone for dogs

Prednisone is a commonly used corticosteroid in veterinary medicine for the treatment of various conditions in dogs. It is an effective medication but also has potential side effects and risks.


  • Prednisone is a potent anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant, making it useful for treating conditions such as allergies, autoimmune disorders, and cancer.
  • It is relatively inexpensive and widely available.
  • Short-term use of prednisone in dogs usually results in mild to no side effects.


  • Long-term use of prednisone in dogs can result in a wide range of side effects, including polyphagia, polydipsia, polyuria, incontinence, muscle wasting, and fat redistribution.
  • It can also cause alterations in blood work, including increased alkaline phosphatase activity, hyperglycemia, and hypercholesterolemia.
  • It can have serious side effects such as gastroduodenal ulceration, colitis, diabetes mellitus, liver disease, and renal disease.
  • It can also cause secondary bacterial infections, particularly in the urinary tract.
  • It can also have drug interactions and contraindications, so it is important to inform the vet about any other medication the dog is taking.


  • Prednisone is a relatively safe drug, but it can cause toxicity when used in high doses or over a prolonged period.

Drug Interactions:

  • Prednisone can interact with other medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anticoagulant medications, and some antibiotics.


  • Prednisone should not be used in dogs with active bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, or in dogs with a history of gastric or intestinal ulcers.

Research and Study:

  • A lot of research has been conducted on the use of prednisone in dogs, but there is still a need for more studies to determine the optimal dosages and duration of treatment, as well as the long-term effects of the medication.

Natural or OTC veterinary alternatives:

  • There are natural or OTC veterinary alternatives to prednisone such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and herbal remedies which have anti-inflammatory properties. However, it is important to consult a veterinarian before giving any alternative treatment to your dog, as some natural supplements can also have side effects or interact with other medications.

Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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