Prednisolone comes with its fair share of side effects, but breathing problems? Say it ain't so! Your kitty won't want to hear this, but it is so, although it's typically because of another issue prednisolone has caused. In the corticosteroid's defense, prednisolone can also positively affect your kitty's breathing.
In a Good Way
Kitties with asthma suffer from flareups that cause inflamed and constricted airways, which makes breathing a challenge. These flareups happen in response to an allergen the cat has inhaled, such as certain kitty litter or cigarette smoke. Prednisolone works its magic by reducing inflammation and relaxing the airways so the feline can breathe easily. In rare cases, your kitty may experience trouble breathing while on predniosolone because of an allergic reaction to the medicine.
For all of its uses, prednisolone comes with many side effects. Occasional bouts of aggression, a near-constant feeling of hunger and weight gain are fairly common, although none of those side effects will cause breathing problems. Rarer side effects include vomiting and diarrhea, which can cause dehydration. Dehydration can lead to rapid breathing. If your kitty's gums are dry and pale, she's panting, her skin doesn't snap back into place if you gently pull on it and she's lethargic, it's very possible she's dehydrated.
Over time, prednisolone can cause your kitty's adrenal glands to stop producing cortisol completely. This is the primary reason you should never stop giving your feline the medicine without first tapering it off. Cushing's disease occurs when your cat has elevated cortisol levels, so it's only logical to think Cushing's disease isn't even on the radar with prednisolone. But prednisolone parrots the effects of cortisol. Long-term use of prednisolone, or even short-term use of a high dosage, can cause Cushing's disease. Annoyingly enough, most of the symptoms mimic those of prednisolone use, such as increased thirst, hunger and weight, although the potbellied appearance and enlarged liver are not symptoms of prednisolone use. Cushing's disease itself can cause panting, as can the oversized liver. Sometimes kitties with Cushing's disease can experience a blood clot in one of their lungs, causing labored breathing.
If your cat experiences an unusual symptom while taking a medication, it's natural to think the two might be connected. But sometimes that's just not the case. An outrageous number of things can cause your kitty to experience breathing problems. Something as common as stress can trigger excessive panting, while an unusually slow rate of breath can indicate poisoning. Even worse, it's impossible to say whether symptoms likely to accompany breathing problems, such as a drunken gait, lethargy and meowing, implicate prednisolone or something else.
Going to the Doctor
Any way you slice it, panting is a bad sign. Something's abnormal and that calls for a visit to your vet as soon as possible. With a bit of testing, such as blood tests, X-rays or ultrasounds, he'll be able to determine the likely cause. If prednisolone is the problem, he'll probably discuss alternative treatment options with you. If your kitty can't move, has trouble using her legs, coughs up blood, vomits blood, or has bloody stool or cold paws, pick her up and drive to your vet or nearest animal hospital right away. These can be extremely dangerous symptoms.