Your poodle, the light of your life, has started losing clumps of hair. You noticed that, coincidentally, the hair loss began after your dog began taking prednisone prescribed by her vet. All drugs have at least minimal side effects -- is hair loss one of them for prednisone?
Uses for Prednisone
Prednisone is a steroid that is effective as an immunity suppressor and pain reliever. It's also used frequently as an anti-inflammatory. These properties make it useful for treating itching and allergic reactions as well as treating pain and swelling caused by injuries. Other uses for prednisone include asthma, anemia and anaphylactic shock; it also is used in chemotherapy for cancer treatment.
Side Effects of Prednisone
If your poodle is on prednisone for a month or less, she probably won't experience any side effects, or if she does, they may be mild. The list of side effects, especially for dogs who take it long-term, is long and can include increased appetite and thirst, water retention, immunity suppression, irritability and sudden aggressiveness, anxiety, nausea, muscle loss and weakness and the development of Cushing's disease. While hair loss is not included on this list, the Cushing's disease risk is important for poodle parents to note, as Cushing's disease is prevalent in poodles.
Cushing's disease acts by affecting the adrenal glands, triggering them to produce an overabundance of cortisol. According to Vet Info, there are three primary causes of Cushing's in poodles, terriers and other breeds prone to the disease. Those can be adrenal gland tumors or diseases, pituitary gland disease and the overuse of corticosteroids, such as prednisone. A few of the symptoms of the condition are excessive panting, thirst and hunger, lethargy, muscle weakness and hair loss. There is no cure for the disease, but early treatment can mean an extended lifespan and minimized symptoms for your poodle. Treatment depends on the cause of the disease but can include tumor removal and chemotherapy and hormone regulation through medication. Blood tests are routinely given to monitor hormone levels as well as ensure that the medications remain at a therapeutic level and don't become toxic.
When your poodle is prescribed medication such as prednisone, it is wise to talk to the vet about possible interactions with other drugs. The doctor will most likely be aware of other medications your poodle is taking, but it is better to talk about it before giving your dog prednisone just in case there is an issue that might cause complications. Even though prednisone is considered safe to be taken with other drugs there is a possibility of an adverse interaction with some painkillers, furosemide, insulin, phenobarbital and some vaccines, just to name a few. Report any unusual reaction your poodle has when she is on more than one medication to your vet immediately.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.