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Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs Taking Prednisone

Dogs Taking Prednisone

Urinary tract infections in dogs taking prednisone is something to be aware of especially for dogs who are on this drug for some time. Urinary tract infections typically cause distinctive signs in dogs which trigger owners to take their dogs to the vet and therefore get treatment. However, things can get tricky when dogs are on prednisone because prednisone may sometimes mask symptoms. Following is some information pertaining urinary tract infections in dogs taking prednisone.

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Prednisone's Effect on the Dog's Body 

Prednisone is a synthetic glucocorticoid drug which, ever since its discovery in the 1940s, has become one of the most widely used drugs to control inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

The typical dosage of steroids in dogs ranges from 0.2 to 4 mg/kg/day. The physiological dose is around 0.2 mg/kg/day, the anti-inflammatory dose is between 0.5 and 1 mg/kg/day, while the immunosuppressive dose is between 2 and 4 mg/kg/day, explains veterinarian Dr. Doug Mason.

In the veterinary field, prednisone remains a drug that is commonly used to manage or treat several ailments although dog owners are often concerned about this drug's effects on the dog's body. These concerns though are not unfounded. In humans, long-term use of prednisone has been associated with the onset of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and insulin resistance.

In dogs, there are also concerns about this drug's effects on the dog's body and immune system. The most common complications seen in dogs are side effects such as increased drinking and urination, panting and increased appetite.

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Conditions associated with prednisone's long term use include onset of diabetes mellitus, lowered seizure threshold, poor hair coat, gastric ulcers, liver issues, onset of demodectic mange, poor healing ability, obesity, muscle weakness, adrenal gland suppression, iatrogenic Cushing's disease, predisposition to fungal infections and bacterial infections, particularly skin infections and urinary tract infections.

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Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs Taking Prednisone

Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs Taking Prednisone

Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs Taking Prednisone

As mentioned, infections are more common in dogs administered prednisone and this is because this drug tends to suppress the immune system. This means that it becomes more difficult for the body to fight off a potential infection. In some cases, prednisone can cause pre-existing infections to spread and raise their ugly head.

Prednisone also predisposes dogs to increased drinking. Urine that's less concentrated than usual creates an environment that is bacteria-friendly, explains veterinarian Dr. Kay. It's estimated that one third of female dogs on prednisone develop spontaneous bladder infections.

Something to consider when giving dogs prednisone, is the fact that, the distinctive signs of a urinary tract infection may be masked. Prednisone drugs are anti-inflammatories of the highest order, they work by blocking inflammation right at the top of the cascade, explains veterinarian Doc Paul. 

Normally, dogs with a urinary tract infection (UTI) develop painful urination, presence of blood in the urine and increased drinking. Dogs with an UTI may also develop frequent urination in small amounts. Dogs on prednisone though may not manifest such distinct signs and this is why vets often recommend routine urine tests (like every 6 months) in dogs taking prednisone long-term.

Since prednisone is likely to also mask other diseases, this also explains why vets may be reluctant to immediately prescribe prednisone before they have made an exact diagnosis, further explanins Dr. Mason.

"Dogs on long-term corticosteroids should be monitored with quarterly examinations and with urine cultures and blood tests every six months."~Dr. Ernest Ward 

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References:

  • Internal Medicine News: Prednisone Therapy in Dogs and Cats
  • Spot Speaks: Canine Bladder Infections: Part I
  • VCA Animal Hospital: Steroid Treatment - Long-Term Effects in Dogs

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