This drug is a hormone related to cortisone and is used in dogs and cats to treat a variety of conditions. Dexamethasone is available in tablets and as an injectable.
What is this drug?
A potent corticosteroid
Given by mouth or injection
Reasons for prescribing:
To treat certain inflammatory diseases
To treat certain immune-mediated diseases
To aid in the treatment of certain cancers
To aid in the treatment of Addison's disease
What dogs/cats should not take this medication?
Animals with stomach ulcers
Animals with liver or kidney disease
Animals with diabetes or Cushing's disease
Animals with certain heart disease or high blood pressure
Animals with infectious diseases
Animals that will require surgery in the near future
Animals that will require allergic skin testing in the near future
Animals that may be pregnant or nursing
Animals that are pediatric
Animals with a known hypersensitivity or allergy to this drug should not take this medication
Read and follow the prescription label carefully.
Give the exact amount prescribed and only as often as directed.
This medication is often given with food to reduce the potential for stomach upset. Due to the side effects of this medication, always ensure that your pet has access to fresh water and is allowed to urinate more frequently.
Give this medication for as long as your veterinarian directs. Do not skip doses or stop giving the medication without consulting your veterinarian.
Baseline blood work is recommended to assess your pet's general health before starting this drug.
Periodic blood work to monitor its effects on the body is also advised if long-term therapy is necessary.
Dose adjustments may be made based upon these results and an assessment of how your dog or cat is responding clinically.
Call ahead for refills.
Ideally, give this medication at the same time(s) daily.
What if a dose is missed?
If a dose is missed, give it as soon as you can. If it is time already for the next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to the normal schedule. Do not give two doses at the same time.
What to tell/ask a veterinarian before giving medication?
Talk to your veterinarian about:
When your pet will need to be rechecked
What tests may need to be performed prior to and during treatment with this drug
What are the risks and benefits of using this drug
Tell your veterinarian about:
If your pet has experienced side-effects on other drugs/products
If your pet has experienced digestive upset now or ever
If your pet has experienced liver or kidney disease now or ever
If your pet has experienced any other medical problems or allergies now or ever
All medicines and supplements that you are giving your pet or plan to give your pet, including those you can get without a prescription. Your veterinarian may want to check that all of your pet's medications can be given together.
If your pet is pregnant, nursing or if you plan to breed your pet
Storage and Warnings:
Dexamethasone should be stored in a childproof container in a cool, dry place at room temperature away from heat and direct sunlight.
Keep this and all medication out of reach of children and pets.
Call your physician immediately if you accidentally take this product.
Potential side effects:
Side effects are usually dose dependent
This medication can affect the gastrointestinal system causing vomiting and diarrhea. These side effects may be reduced by giving this medication with food
This medication can cause an increase in appetite, thirst and urination
This medication can cause weight gain, panting, dull hair coat, muscle wasting, and behavior changes
This medication can affect the immune system at high doses causing an increased susceptibility to infections and delayed wound healing
This medication can cause the development of diabetes or Cushing's disease when given long term
If these symptoms persist or you notice anything else unusual, contact your veterinarian
Can this drug be given with other drugs?
Yes, but possible interactions may occur when giving dexamethasone in conjunction with: amphotericin B, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, digoxin, estrogens, erythromycin, furosemide, insulin, mitotane, neostigmine, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (ex. acetaminophen, deracoxib, carprofen, ibuprofen, meloxicam), phenobarbital, phenytoin, pyridostigmine, rifampin, and certain vaccines
Drugs other than those listed may also interact with dexamethasone
Do not give new food or medications without first talking to your veterinarian
If your pet experiences any unusual reactions when taking multiple medications, contact your veterinarian
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet receives more than the prescribed amount.
What else should I know?
Notify your veterinarian if your animal's condition does not improve or worsens despite this treatment.
As with all prescribed medicines, dexamethasone should only be given to the pet for which it was prescribed.
It should be given only for the condition for which it was prescribed.
This is just a summary of information about dexamethasone. If you have any questions or concerns about dexamethasone or the condition it was prescribed for, please contact your veterinarian.
(Prednisone, Triamcinolone, Dexamethasone)
Common Generic & Brand Names
Prednisolone: Solu-Delta-Cortef Prednisone: Meticorten, Sterapred Dexamethasone: Azium, Decadron Methylprednisolone: Depo-Medrol; Medrol Triamcinolone: Cortalone, Vetalog
Corticosteroids are also referred to as glucocorticosteroids, glucocorticoids, or sometimes simply as steroids.
Store at room temperature, in tight, light resistant, childproof container.
Corticosteroids are hormones used for the treatment of multiple conditions including adrenal insufficiency (Addison's disease); inflammation; autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, pemphigus, and some anemias; allergies including atopy; asthma; some cancers; and certain types of colitis and kidney diseases (nephrotic syndrome).
Dose and Administration
Always follow the dosage instructions provided by your veterinarian. If you have difficulties giving the medication, contact your veterinarian.
Dosage depends on the product used. Your veterinarian may recommend starting at a higher dose and then reducing the dose every few days to a week.
If using the transdermal gel, apply to the skin as directed by your veterinarian.
If using an injectable form, use a new, sterile needle and syringe each time, and follow the proper technique, as directed by your veterinarian. Dispose of the needle and syringe according to local regulations.
If you miss a dose, contact your veterinarian to determine the next dose.
This medication should only be given to the pet for whom it was prescribed.
Possible Side Effects
Side effects are usually dose dependent. If side effects occur, contact your veterinarian, who may decrease the dosage, frequency, or type of corticosteroid.
The most common side effects are increased appetite, drinking, and urination. Your pet may have more “accidents” and need to go outside or use the litter box more often.
Less common side effects include weight gain, panting, diarrhea, vomiting, and behavior changes.
Side effects of long-term use include muscle loss, weakness, and the development of diabetes or hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease). The typical signs of these diseases are increased thirst, urination, and appetite. Animals with Cushing's disease may also develop thin skin, a poor hair coat, and a “pot-belly.” Activation or worsening of hypothyroidism or pancreatis.
Immune system suppression may occur, especially on higher doses, making a pet more susceptible to infection. Contact your veterinarian if your pet has a fever (over 103° F), painful urination (a sign of urinary tract infection), tiredness, sneezing, coughing, or runny eyes.
Not for use in animals with systemic fungal infections, some types of mange (mites), stomach ulcers, Cushing's disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, or congestive heart failure.
Do not use in pregnant animals. May cause premature birth. Can cause birth defects in dogs, rabbits, and rodents.
If on long-term therapy, do not discontinue the drug abruptly. The dose needs to be tapered off over several weeks to allow the body to start making its own cortisol again.
May need to give additional steroids while tapering, if the animal is stressed.
May stunt growth if used in young, growing animals.
Consult with your veterinarian regarding the physical examinations and laboratory testing necessary prior to and during treatment with corticosteroids.
Drug, Food, and Test Interactions
Consult your veterinarian before using corticosteroids with vitamins and supplements, non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, carprofen (Novox or Rimadyl), deracoxib (Deramaxx), etodolac (EtoGesic), meloxicam (Metacam),firocoxib (Previcox), tepoxalin (Zubrin); insulin, modified live vaccines, phenytoin, phenobarbital, rifampin, cyclosporine, estrogens, erythromycin, or mitotane, amphotericin B, furosemide, or thiazide, since interactions may occur.
Corticosteroids may cause abnormal levels of hepatic enzymes, thyroid hormone, cholesterol, and potassium in the blood, and can affect many laboratory tests. Make sure your veterinarian knows your pet is taking corticosteroids prior to testing.
Signs of Toxicity/Overdose
An acute overdose is unlikely to cause problems. A chronic overdose is likely to cause signs of Cushing's disease or diabetes mellitus; both diseases commonly cause increased urinating, drinking, and eating. Abruptly stopping long-term treatment may cause signs of Addison's disease, including vomiting, weakness, collapse and sudden death.
If you know or suspect your pet has had an overdose, or if you observe any of these signs in your pet, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Keep this and all other medications out of the reach of children and pets.
This information may not cover all possible uses, directions, side effects, precautions, allergic reactions, drug interactions, or withdrawal times. Always consult your own veterinarian for specific advice concerning the treatment of your pet.