Steroids often get bad press.
And in most cases for good reason.
Their side-effects can be severe - especially when given at high does for long periods of time.
And they are often prescribed far too readily, before kinder alternatives have been fully explored, and the underlying cause addressed.
For itchy dogs however, when nothing else is working, low dose prednisolone therapy often provides much needed relief at less cost than Apoquel and similar drugs. And one reason for this is that prednisolone, unlike other anti-inflammatories, is very similar to the steroids produced naturally in the body.
Key however, is finding the lowest possible daily amount, which keeps a dog sensitive to environmental and / or dietary allergens, as comfortable as possible.
This keeps immunosuppression to a minimum, and also reduces the risk of other problems developing, such as:
- excessive thirst
- increased appetite
- lowered resistance to infections
- wasting of muscles
- bloated abdomen
- thinning of the skin
- loss of hair
- urinating more
- toileting accidents
- less energy
- vomiting an diarrhoea
- behavioural changes
- raised liver enzymes
A Way Forward
Another advantage of prednisolone compared to other immunosuppressive drugs, is that it is easier to lower the dose in small amounts, to see how the skin reacts.
And this is really useful for assessing the impact of supporting the immune system with a combination of dietary changes, natural supplements and remedies.
If the skin remains comfortable and itching manageable as prednisolone is reduced, this can be a stepping stone for weaning off medication altogether.
For more information on dietary support which can help an itchy dog need less medication see SOLUTIONS.