Does Prednisone Reduce Hair Loss in Cats?

Prednisone has many uses and several side effects to be aware of.
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If Trixie has an allergy causing hair loss, prednisone may help address the condition. The steroid is used for many conditions and helps fight infections and diseases caused by a weak immune system. Be wary, though -- if Trixie is on prednisone, she may experience several side effects.

Typical Uses of Prednisone

Vets prescribe prednisone for a variety of conditions that range in seriousness. If Trixie has an autoimmune disease, such as a lung or skin disease, or inflammations such as joint pain, prednisone is effective for treating her symptoms. It also helps provide relief for cats with cancer, kidney-related conditions, tumors and allergies. In more serious events, such as shock (steroids help improve circulation) and disorders in the central nervous system (to relieve swelling in the brain or spinal cord), prednisone can help a cat recover faster. In appropriate situations, it can improve Trixie's quality of life.

Side Effects of Prednisone

The classic side effects of prednisone are excessive thirst and urination. Other common side effects include increased appetite (and weight gain), panting, vomiting and diarrhea. Long-term use of the drug may cause hair loss, weakening of the muscles and potential changes in behavior (such as nervousness or depression). More serious side effects include eye-related problems, increased infections and liver impairment.

Over-Grooming and Allergies

Although one of the common side effects of long-term use of prednisone is hair loss, it can also help deter hair loss. Certain allergies, such as miliary dermatitis, often cause hair loss from licking and scratching. Psychogenic alopecia, otherwise known as over-grooming, is a psychological condition that causes a cat to excessively groom her hair and skin, resulting in hair loss moving toward the rear of her body. In both cases, steroids such as prednisone can be helpful as a short-term source of relief.

Using Prednisone

Prednisone can be very beneficial and provide Trixie great relief. However, as you can see, it has some potential serious side effects. If your vet recommends prednisone for your cat, discuss how long she'll be using the drug and what the plan is to ease her back off it. Vet Info recommends you not use prednisone if Trixie has an infection, is pregnant or is taking other medications. As well, make sure your vet knows your cat's medical history because prednisone can impact kidney and liver function.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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