​​Cortisone for dogs: dosage, effect & side effects

If a dog suffers from an allergy or respiratory problems, cortisone for dogs is often used here.

However, cortisone is tough and should only be administered in absolute emergencies.

The following guide will tell you now everything you should know when it comes to cortisone for dogs goes.

Areas of application: When does a dog need cortisone?

A dog needs, among other things often cortisone for dogs in acute or chronic inflammation.

The inflammation, in turn, can have different triggers, including viruses and allergies.

Let’s go back to inflammation.

Cortisone is usually used in dogs for the following inflammations and diseases as part of the treatment therapy:

  • autoimmune disease
  • inflammation of the joints
  • adrenal insufficiency
  • Inflammation of the upper and lower airways
  • Inflammation of internal organs (including gastrointestinal tract)

Which cortisone for dogs is there?

There are four different cortisone groups for dogs:

  • Ultra-short-term cortisone: k. A
  • Short-term cortisone: for example, prednisolone and hydrocortisone
  • Mid-term cortisone: for example dexamethasone
  • Long-term cortisone: for example Lederlon and Cloprednol

Correspondingly, the individual cortisone have different effective times, i.e. the time until the effect of the cortisone has set in.

How does cortisone work in dogs?

Cortisone for dogs works anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive. Strictly speaking, cortisone is produced in every organism, namely in the adrenal cortex.

It is converted into cortisol and released into the bloodstream.

If the dog has an inflammation or an autoimmune disease, the adrenal cortex cannot produce cortisone in sufficient quantities.

Then an artificial cortisone is administered. Here one speaks of so-called glucocorticoids.

Ultimately, the administration of cortisone to the dog causes many bodily functions to be accelerated by, among other things, releasing energy reserves.

The body can sometimes react very quickly to a health problem, for example an allergy or respiratory problems.

How fast does cortisone work in dogs?

Cortisone usually works in dogs already after 20 to 30 minutes. However, the speed of action depends on the cortisone that the dog has received.

It is also possible that the effect will only develop after a few days.

Let’s take a look at what exactly this looks like using the four cortisone groups.

  • Ultra-short-term: the effect sets in quickly and lasts for up to 8 hours
  • Short-term: Rapid onset of action with a duration of action of 24 to 36 hours
  • Mid-term: Effect only sets in after several hours, lasts for up to 10 days
  • Long-term: Effect sets in after several days, lasts for up to 3 months

How is cortisone administered to dogs?

In most cases, cortisone is used in the dog in the form of tablets administered. Depending on the manufacturer and the drug, they have a certain concentration of the respective cortisone.

Let’s take prednisolone as an example, which is contained in Prednitab for dogs, among other things. The correct dosage is 0.5 to 4 mg per kilogram of body weight.

The dosage of the cortisone also applies to the old dog, since the body weight decides. Please pay more attention to possible, already existing diseases.

You can completely rule out a cortisone dosage in the old dog as well as the gift, since undesirable and sometimes dangerous interactions can occur.

Give cortisone to the dog before or after eating?

Cortisone is given to the dog twice a day, ideally after feeding.

In this way you ensure that prednisolone, for example, does not have any too onerous side effects on the gastrointestinal tract of your furry friend.


All cortisone are only administered after consultation with the veterinarian! They are risky drugs that really should never be given on your own!

What side effects can cortisone have?

Cortisone has both mild and very serious side effects in dogs Vomiting and diarrhea (mild) to organ damage (severe) can reach.

Let’s start with the slight side effects, which usually go away on their own after a few days.

The following side effects are typical of cortisone administration:

  • The dog is tired and listless.
  • The dog can get skin problems.
  • The dog has an increased need to drink.

The increased drinking sometimes shows up when the dog pees in the apartment.

Skin problems can manifest themselves in the form of white spots (pigment spots) and inflammation of the hair roots, among other things.

The fact that the dog pees in the apartment can also have another reason related to the administration of cortisone: a change in personality.

Tremors can also be a side effect. Panting and the associated increased salivation is also a possible side effect of cortisone.

Please note that panting may already be a symptom of a respiratory disease for which cortisone can also be administered.

If you’re concerned that this is making the heavy breathing worse, don’t hesitate to raise your concerns with the treating veterinarian.

Let’s continue with the serious side effects that can occur in dogs, especially with long-term therapy with cortisone:

  • muscle breakdown
  • tumor growth
  • personality change
  • Higher susceptibility to infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Vestibular syndrome (impaired sense of balance)
  • Development of a lymphoma (swelling of the lymph nodes)

Please note: These side effects can not only be caused by cortisone in old dogs, but also in significantly younger furry friends.

Long-term cortisone administration in dogs becomes particularly difficult if the cortisone is supported by phenylbutazone, as with Phen-Pred for dogs.

This active ingredient is hotly debated in both human and veterinary medicine – it may only be administered in absolute emergencies!

This is because muscle breakdown and promoted tumor growth/lymphoma can also occur as side effects here, as well as vestibular syndrome in dogs.

Are you looking for an alternative to cortisone after all the possible side effects? Then you will find them in ciclosporin, among other things.

Oclanitib can also be an alternative to cortisone. Both active ingredients are considered to be significantly better tolerated than cortisone.

Please note that you are also not allowed to administer the alternatives to the respective cortisone on your own – again the treating veterinarian decides here.

What should I consider when giving cortisone?

If the cortisone dose in the dog is coming to an end, you should definitely pay attention to the so-called creeping out.

There should never be an abrupt end to therapy with cortisone treatment. In addition to the side effect of tremors, there are other side effects:

  • The dog can become dehydrated.
  • The dog is tired and listless.
  • The dog has a reduced stress tolerance.
  • The dog may suffer from vomiting and diarrhea.
  • The dog may suffer from a slow heartbeat.

The attending veterinarian determines exactly how the important tapering off takes place. Usually it goes like this:

  • The dog gets the right dose for him in 2 doses/day for a fixed period of time.
  • After about 7 to 10 days he only gets half the dose.
  • Then the low dose is only given every 2 days.

This ensures that the dog does not go cold turkey, but that its body – especially its brain – weans itself from the cortisone.

Has your dog already had to be treated with cortisone? Then we would be happy if you share your tips in the comments.