What are the adverse reactions of cortisone in dogs?


Cortisone is a steroid hormone that is often used to treat inflammation and pain in dogs. It is a powerful medication that can provide significant relief to dogs suffering from a range of conditions, from allergies to arthritis. However, like any medication, cortisone can also have adverse reactions that pet owners need to be aware of.

In this article, we will discuss the common uses of cortisone in dogs, how it works, and the various adverse reactions that can occur. We will also provide tips on how to monitor cortisone therapy in dogs and prevent adverse reactions from occurring.

Common Uses of Cortisone in Dogs

Cortisone is commonly used in dogs to treat a range of conditions, including allergies, arthritis, skin disorders, and inflammatory bowel disease. It can also be used to manage pain and swelling after surgery or injury. Cortisone is a powerful anti-inflammatory medication that can quickly relieve pain and inflammation, making it a popular choice for veterinarians.

How Cortisone Works in Dogs

Cortisone works by suppressing the immune system’s response to inflammation. It blocks the production of inflammatory chemicals, which reduces pain and swelling. Cortisone can be administered orally, topically, or injected directly into the affected area. It is a fast-acting medication that can provide relief within hours of administration.

Adverse Reactions of Cortisone in Dogs

While cortisone can be an effective treatment for many conditions, it can also have adverse reactions. The severity and frequency of these reactions can vary depending on the dose and duration of cortisone therapy. Some adverse reactions can occur immediately, while others can develop over time.

Short-Term Adverse Reactions

Short-term adverse reactions to cortisone can include increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, panting, and restlessness. These reactions are usually mild and resolve once the medication is discontinued. However, in some cases, cortisone can also cause gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Long-Term Adverse Reactions

Long-term use of cortisone can have more severe adverse reactions, such as muscle weakness, weight gain, and increased susceptibility to infections. It can also cause damage to the liver, kidneys, and adrenal glands. Prolonged cortisone therapy can also lead to the development of Cushing’s disease, a condition characterized by excessive production of cortisol.

Allergic Reactions to Cortisone in Dogs

Some dogs may be allergic to cortisone, which can cause a range of symptoms, including itching, hives, swelling of the face or limbs, and difficulty breathing. If your dog shows any signs of an allergic reaction, you should seek veterinary attention immediately.

Cortisone and Infections in Dogs

Cortisone can suppress the immune system, making dogs more susceptible to infections. Dogs on cortisone therapy should be monitored closely for signs of infection, such as fever, loss of appetite, and lethargy.

Cortisone and Behavior Changes in Dogs

Cortisone can also cause behavior changes in dogs, such as increased aggression, anxiety, and lethargy. These changes can be due to the medication’s effect on the central nervous system. If you notice any behavior changes in your dog while on cortisone therapy, you should consult your veterinarian.

Monitoring Cortisone Therapy in Dogs

If your dog is on cortisone therapy, it is important to monitor their response to the medication closely. Your veterinarian may recommend regular blood tests to check for any adverse reactions, such as liver or kidney damage. You should also keep track of any changes in your dog’s behavior or appetite and report them to your veterinarian.

Prevention of Cortisone Adverse Reactions in Dogs

To prevent adverse reactions to cortisone in dogs, it is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully. You should never adjust the dosage or duration of cortisone therapy without consulting your veterinarian. You should also ensure that your dog has access to plenty of water and monitor them closely for any signs of infection or behavior changes.


Cortisone can be a powerful medication for treating inflammation and pain in dogs. However, it can also have adverse reactions that pet owners need to be aware of. By monitoring your dog’s response to cortisone therapy and following your veterinarian’s instructions, you can help prevent adverse reactions and ensure that your dog receives the best possible care.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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