Prednisolone is a corticosteroid used to treat inflammation in dogs. Veterinarians prescribe it for a variety of conditions, including joint injuries, eye infections, autoimmune diseases and allergic reactions. The drug suppresses the dog's immune system, minimizing or preventing symptoms such as pain, swelling, itching or trouble breathing, according to VetInfo.
A dog's adrenal glands naturally produce corticosteroids, but prednisolone is a synthetic form that is more potent and longer-lasting, explains VetInfo. Although generally considered safe, the drug has some potential side effects. Short-term, these include increased thirst or hunger, lethargy, panting and stomach upset. Reducing the frequency or prescription strength of the dosage can often eliminate these side effects. Alternatively, a veterinarian may decide to prescribe a different type of corticosteroid in its place.
Some common, long-term side effects are: urinary tract infections, obesity, poor coat condition, demodetic mange and an increased risk of fungal infections. A dog is at most risk of these side effects when taking prednisolone for three or more months, notes VetInfo. Cushing's disease is also a potential long-term side effect, and its symptoms include hair loss, increased urinary tract infections, and skin and ear infections.
Prednisolone can improve the quality of life or be a life-saving treatment for dogs. To reduce the risk of long-term side effects, a veterinarian should monitor the dog through regular exams and blood and urine tests, reports VCA Hospitals.