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Prednisone and Dog Cancer Tips

Prednisone is the topic of many conversations here at Tripawds, since lots of our members with cancer, like Ajax, are including it in their cancer regimen.

Ajax in the Atlantic 10 Months Post AmputationBecause, prednisone is a serious drug that can have mild to serious side effects, let’s take a minute to discuss how you can make the most of this therapy without putting your Tripawd at risk.

What is Prednisone?

This steroid drug, usually prescribed in pill form, is used to reduce inflammation, redness and swelling in the body caused by auto-immune disorders, cancers and other diseases affecting the immune system. Prednisone is not a chemotherapy drug, but is used in conjunction with chemotherapy protocols to treat dog cancers such as mast cell cancer, lymphosarcoma and lymphoma. The dosage will vary depending on the disease being treated.

Prednisone works fast by decreasing the immune system’s response to inflammation and pain. It affects nearly every system in the body and should be used with extreme care, only when necessary and rarely for long-term use.

 

When to Take Prednisone

Recently Dr. Demian Dressler, author of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide, stated in this blog post that veterinary overuse of prednisone has given this class of cortisone drugs a bad rap. Many diseases can be better managed with less serious drugs, but some vets are too quick to reach for this fast-fix. Consequently, a significant number of dogs experience prednisone’s serious side effects when they really don’t need to.

While prednisone can cause serious side effects such as poor wound healing, thinning fur and skin and even diabetes or Cushing’s Disease, prednisone does provide many benefits, such as managing cancer’s side effects in dogs. However, prednisone should always be used with caution and only under direct veterinary supervision.

To reduce your dog’s risk of experiencing the downside of prednisone, always get a firm diagnosis of the condition you are trying to treat and ask your vet to give you a definite time-frame for starting and stopping treatment. You’ll also want to use the least potent form possible to alleviate symptoms.

What to Expect

Many dogs will experience insatiable thirst and frequent urination while taking prednisone. Since your dog will want to drink more water than usual, and in turn, urinate more often, give your dog the prednisone in the morning. Allow as much water as your dog wants, but adjust your schedule so that your dog can eliminate outside. To avoid nighttime indoor accidents, don’t hesitate to remove water a few hours before bedtime.

Your dog may be hungrier than usual. Keep your dog’s weight in check by only feeding healthy, low-cal treats such as green beans and celery inbetween meal times. Baby-proof your house; your dog may eat weird things that he normally wouldn’t.

A rarer but more serious side effect can include stomach ulcers and personality changes. Do not give your dog predinisone if she is also on an anti-inflammatory medication such as Rimadyl or aspirin. Watch for black tarry stools or vomiting, which can be signs of stomach ulceration. If you notice a severe personality change in your dog, call your vet.

The sooner your dog can complete treatment with prednisone the better, but never, ever change or stop the prednisone dose without consulting your vet first. Doing so may put your dog’s immune system into shock. For dogs battling cancer, your vet may want to keep your dog on a long-term, low dose regimen which usually requires regular monitoring.

Jerry’s Prednisone Story: Share Yours Too

Jerry poses at Gros Ventre CampgroundBack when I was being treated for later stages of my osteosarcoma lung metastasis, my oncologist prescribed prednisone and albuterol, a  bronchodilator, to help alleviate lung inflammation. I was coughing so much that my lungs hurt, and the predinsone was supposed to help make me feel better. Well, it did and it didn’t. It made me hungry again and I also stopped coughing so much, but at the same time my pawsonality changed so much that I just didn’t feel like the same dog. I didn’t continue on this therapy once my pawrents and I decided that we wanted to live out the last bit of my time on earth without experiencing side effects from drugs.

If you have experience using prednisone as part of your dog’s cancer regimen, please share it in the comments section below or in this Discussion Forums post. Thanks for sharing your story so that it may help others.

Recommended Reading

Dr. Demian Dressler: Prednisone for Dog Cancer
Veterinary Partner.com: Prednisone / Prednisolone

The Bichon Frise Club of America: Prednisone, the Good and the Bad

Tripawds News Blog: Stop the Presses, I’m Feeling Good Today!

Tripawds News Blog: Saying Goodbye: How We Knew (Part 1)

Scroll down for 100+ comments with feedback from readers!

NOTE: Please remember to buy from a Vet-Vipps Accredited Pharmacy when buying online!


135 Responses to “Prednisone and Dog Cancer Tips”

  1. My 8 year old Bullmastiff, Bella, was diagnosed with high grade Lymphoma six weeks ago and is slowly declining. We chose to do Prednisone to help with her quality of life. I noticed after being on Prednisone for four weeks, her muscle mass is deteriorating. I can feel the bones in her spine and the bone on the top of her head -even around the temples. It breaks my heart to pieces knowing I don’t have much time left with her. Some side effects of the Prednisone is heavy panting and fast breathing. It bothers me to see her like this. She doesn’t have much longer with us. It’s a sad sad disease.

    • Erica and Bella, our hearts go out to you, we know it’s a tough time. Please check with your vet about those side effects, there may be some solutions to deal with the cachexia (muscle mass loss) that will keep her comfy. The Tripawds Nation sends all our love and hugs to you both. May you have much more time together.

  2. My dog, Abel, has lymphoma and after going to the oncologist I decided not to put him through all their suggestions. I’m trying baking soda and will try turmeric. Do you think I should try prednisone? I’m so confused!

    • Cecilia I’m sorry to hear about Abel and hope he beats the odds. We have never heard of baking soda as a legitimate treatment. Since prednisone isn’t something you want to mess with on your own, and legally cannot, the only one who can answer this question is your veterinarian. Best wishes to you both.

  3. My 10 year old Vizsla was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and if we hadn’t seen the MRI scan we would not have believed it. We were given many options, from surgery to radiation, chemo etc, which in theory would give her another year at the most, while doing nothing would result in maybe another month. Since time is a very relative understanding for any dog, and the fact we did not want to expose her to very invasive treatments at her age, we opted for prednesolone.
    Three years later, she is still here. The first week she was given 25mg, then 12,5, and gradually ended up with 5mg a day for the last 2,5 years. Six months ago she had a bad gastroenteritis, and didn’t have her pills for a couple of days, which made the vet decide that maybe she could do without. She was without pills for almost 6 months, but recently her behaviour changed, she became restless, panting, bumping into things etc. She is now back on the prednesolone, but somehow I think it will not have the same effect anymore, so the future looks bleak. However, prednesolone prolonged her life to date, and it has been a good life. Of course side effects were inevitable, too much drinking, eating, although that became much better after a year. She was, at night, not house trained anymore, but newspapers on the floor did the trick. In view of the fact that we said our goodbyes more than 3 years ago, and she is still here, is quite amazing I think, and in my case long live prednesolone.

    • Joyce I’m so glad you’ve been blessed with so much more time together, that is awesome. I hope the future holds more of the same. You are an amazing parent, thank you for taking time to share.

    • ROBERT BROWNSTEIN November 15, 2016 at 8:25 am

      My dog has asuspected brain tumor.Hes too old for a MRI,hes almost 16.Hes a maltese.So far the Prednisone is not working,he wont eat or walk.Hes only on 2.5mg because of a bad heart.What type of dog is yours considering the dosage?

      • Robert, we’re sorry to hear your dog is having difficulties. Please let your vet know and don’t adjust the dosage without consulting them first. Doing so can be dangerous. Best wishes to you both.

  4. Our dog presented with a swollen throat and difficulty breathing. A biopsy was taken. A second opinion confirmed cancer cells. We put her on 10mg of prednisone for 10 days and 249mg of vitamin C. The swollen throat and difficulty brrathing disappeared the second day and she is running again with her daughter. This was three months ago and she seems to be back to herself.

    • We found out today that my sweet pug Zelda has a mass that is between her heart and her trachea (not sure if it cancer). The mass is causing her trach to collapse and she has difficulty breathing. The coughing literally came out of the blue in Monday. She was prescribed prednisone 5mg with a PPI for her stomach. Curious what does the vitamin C do?
      They told me that the steroid could possibly shrink the tumor. Did it do that for you pup? My girl is about 15 and not a canidete for surgery.

    • Kathy, I’m so glad that your dog is doing well. Here’s to more good times ahead!

  5. Margueriteuerite smith August 31, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Hi my beautiful cow print boxer cross has recently been diagnosed with Lymphosarcoma it has spread to his lymph nodes all over his body, he has lost about 10 kilos in a month and looks emaciated for a big Dane size dog of 19 years:( vet has put him on steroids and explained side effects of drinking more eating more, in his case he picked hand fed roast chicken lol smart dog:) now he has to take 30mgms prednisone twice a day that’s 60mgms a day!!!quite an amt but he is Great Dane size reduced to an emaciated 28kgms at present, yes he is eating but minimally and only hand fed(the little sweetie) he is panting more weaker in his hind legs constantly and endlessly walking till he falls over in exhaustion not on his comply bean bag but on the cool hard ground makes my heart break to see him so uncomfortable he has never been to vet except for initial puppy vaccines:)my vet says ten days for meds to take effect and to watch if no improvement then euthanasia not dealing with my grief very well it seems a terrible aggressive cancer and apart from eating I can’t see improvement on steroids??? He is away till next week but today I’m gonna ring and ask to reduce the dose to 15 mins twice a day:(:(:(

  6. My 12.5 year old female lab mix Zoey was diagnosed with an anal gland tumor in early April/late March. Early May she became very weak, disinterested in walks and eating, and lost 13 pounds (from 79 to 66). I took her in thinking this was the end, but her vet offered to try Prednisone (20mg twice a day) to stimulate her appetite. He also thought it would help reduce swelling around the tumor and where her lymph nodes are swollen. I am combining that with Tramadol (100mg twice daily) for pain. Anyway, the panting/drinking water are a definite side effect, but she did gain back the weight she lost and seemed like a happy dog again. But now she’s been on Prednisone 2.5 months and is again becoming very weak and is now having a hard time getting up and using her back legs. The medicine may have made her feel better, but at the same time it is making her weak and lethargic and I feel she is losing her quality of life. She lives for her walks and treats and she’s no longer interested in either. I’m wondering if it’s worth trying to taper back the Prednisone or not. It’s really hard to make this tough decision as Zoey is our family’s first fur baby.

  7. My 9 year old Lab mix, Sadie, had a lump removed in her cheek a month ago and now she has a softball size lump on her neck. Since we didn’t send the lump out to be tested, the vet is simply calling it a generic malignant tumor. She was put on a taper dose of Prednisone and Cephalexin. He gave me the ok to try Artemix and some other vitamins as we have decided not to go the Chemo/Radiation route. I’m having a hard time finding information on giving her the Artemix while she’s on the steroids and antibiotics. Does anyone know where I might find this type of info?

  8. My dog Ned, dog of my heart, has lymphoma. He isn’t on prednisone yet, as we’re waiting until he starts feeling worse. He’s not bad now, slowing a little, more tired. It was in his spleen by the time we caught it. One lump on is neck was all he had. What makes me so sad is he started getting these warty things on his back, but there was only one at first. I had his teeth cleaned last year and they removed it while he was under. Immediately he grew more. I just learned these things are signs of lymphoma. If my vet had known that we might have caught this in time to treat. Now I will lose him and it is unthinkable. I don’t know who I am without him. He’s an 11 year old lhasapoo. I found him in the street on a cold October night 10 years ago. Ned is everything to me.

    • The grief is unbelievable I dont mean to sound crass but this is worse than when I lost my Mother. Jasper a tri colored Basset Hound dog of my heart and the closest thing I will ever get to having a child has lymphoma. It started Saturday night I felt a lump in his throat and went to the vet Monday to have needle biopsy and on Wednesday the tests came back. After reading and research I found a trial at Cornell University on Selinexor which puts lymphoma into remission but you need a trial to get it. We are going to the oncologist tomorrow to talk about treatment but my normal vet says chemo is not a good idea as Jasper has pancreatitis so I don’t know what we’re going to do, I found myself crying in church this morning begging God but then as I was leaving a husband and wife walked out and the woman was sick the of old grey paste with almost no hair and I’m crying over my puppy. But I love Jasper forever and I never knew I could love like this. Hang in I more than understand where your coming from and I am so sorry you are going through this too.
      Jennifer

      • My Tucker, love of my life, my heart, my everything, has a chemodectoma (a very rare tumor on his aorta).
        I suggest saving your money and NOT seeing an oncologist, which I realize that you may have done 2 days ago.
        I have researched endlessly since February 25, 2015 about canine cancer. During that time I have spoken to an oncologist who basically said there was nothing that could be done for Tucker so I thanked her for not having me pay for an appointment. I only want to go ‘holistic’ for Tucker, especially since meeting someone via Tucker’s facebook page who did use chemo, got results and then lost her baby due to side effects and the tumor that had been reduced by half came back. Her baby was about the same age and size as Tucker but passed with a tumor 1/2 the size of Tucker’s (after having grown back) last October. My Tucker is still feeling great and playing and her baby is gone. I can’t help but think it is the fault of chemo.

  9. My girl has been on prednisone for nine years for allergies, she just had mast cell cancer removed, they couldn’t get it all. Been nine months and she is doing well. No treatment, still on prednisone. I take her to cancer center every three months for sonogram, hope this helps. God bless all who are going thru so much heartache

  10. Hi Lisa,my heart goes out to you.I just lost my Biggirl march 29th 2016. I cry everyday wishing she were here & asking God why.It just breaks my heart.She has RA which is Arthirist a crippling disease where she couldn’t walk.She had that from November 13th,2013 then she got sick again.I took her to the Vet & she had pinworms & I didn’t even know it.
    He gave her 2 worm pill then 2 days later.She died. i Cried & I cried & still haven’t gotten over her.I just want you to know my heart breaks for you.I know you love your dog.Try some of these dog organizations on the internet.I seen some & they help people who’s dogs have cancer. It’s worth a try.Sorry about all your bad luck.God Bless You & your dog.

  11. My baby, my heart, the only thing I left, my wolf Grimmy. He has been with us for over 11 yrs n about a month ago we noticed him being really sleepy, he couldn’t keep his eyes open n he was breathing a lot harder, he just wasn’t his happy playful self. So we rushed him to the vet the very next day n they diagnosed him with lymphoma. That crushed me n broke my heart, a day doesn’t go by without tears n my heart breaking. I had noticed the lumps in his throat months ago when we took him to the vet for his continuous ear n skin problems, he was seen by 3 different vets n they all said it might b his thyroid, but he was fine n when we could afford the blood work than they’d put him on something, but not to worry. I can’t believe he had it that long n I made sure to bring it to their attention every time n still nothing, I am so upset. He is finally starting chemo on Monday n will have to b on prednisone again, he was on it for his skin problem n he didn’t do so well. He was 20 lbs over weight n had lost 13 but on the medication he gained 8 lbs back in two weeks. He just wouldn’t stop eating, back into the trash cans, everything n no one told us about the side affects until I called n asked. He has been losing weight again but now he starts the medication this week, cause the lumps in his throat r starting to interfere with his breathing n swallowing n the vet said a couple of days early won’t interfere with the chemo. What can I do to help him thru this hard time, with the over eating, the chemo, everything he will b going thru. What can I feed him, what kind of snacks, what should he b taking while on the chemo, vitamins, supplements? Also, does anyone know of any help we can get to help pay for his chemo? I still don’t know how we r going to afford this n he has already lost a month of treatment. I’ve tired most of the sites on the internet but no one is taking any application, none! My car broke down n now I have to find one cause I can’t find work or get my baby to the vet cause he can no longer jumo into my boyfriends big truck, he also tore his CCL 3yrs ago n had surgery to replace that, my poor baby, I was going to use that money for the chemo treatments n I lost my job n can’t find one without a car cause of where we live. I’m just so unsure about everything, I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing for him, I luv him so much n he has given us so much, I just want him to feel better again n b happy. This is just tearing me apart n I don’t seem to have anywhere to turn. What if we can’t afford the treatment? Then what? I just can’t watch him die n do nothing. Please any help would b totally appreciated. Thnx u for everyone’s time.

    • Lisa I’m really, really sorry to hear about your pup and your situation. You are doing all you can for him. Remember, he doesn’t want you to be stressed over vet bills and paying for them, he just wants you to be happy and that’s the best medicine there is. If you aren’t confident with your current vet, then find one you can trust. If they are not oncologists you may want to find one can better manage his illness. Kudos to you for helping him lose the weight. It’s hard when you’re giving them Pred, your vet should have told you about the side effects. Again, seek help from an oncologist and remember, a great quality of life is worth its weight in gold. Sending lots of hugs to you both.

    • I hate to see your pain through your typing but I can completely relate. Instead of the cost of chemo, there are a few inexpensive things that you might could do for your guy and also there are foundations where you can ask for help with medical costs–or take out a credit card as I did–I cant afford it but Tucker is my everything and so I don’t care. read about diatomaceous earth. Try to feed only wet dog food with one ingredient and treats with one ingredient. feed ‘unusual meats’ (rabbit, bison, venison, etc). find a holistic vet. offer only filtered water or high Ph water. pray and love and take endless pictures! in everything I do I check myself to be sure that I am taking advantage of all of the time I have with Tucker. hobbies and other stuff can wait!

    • My 13 yr old terrier Pierre has mast cells and now lymphoma. I took him to a holistic vet a few months ago and he is on Chinese herbs and homeopathic drops. Also liposomic Vitamin C and green algae. For his diarreah I give him slippery elm bark with every meal. When his breathing started to get laboured 2 weeks ago I started him on Prednisone. He is doing OK, tumours size down by 50% but still losing weight. I feed him mainly muscle meats lightly cooked and mix it with canned pumpkin as its about the only veg he’ll eat. I made some pumpkin peanut butter treats with eggs, he likes those. As well if he asks for somethin more I chew up raw sunflower seeds and give him a couple of tablespoons right out of my mouth. It seems to satisfy him. Also organic chicken livers lightly pan fried. I stuff his pills In that so he’ll eat them. Have had to make some pumpkin goat cheese hors doevres to hide the supplements he won’t take otherwise. I know his end is near but I want to make him as comfy as I know how. He has given me so much.

  12. Deana Matthews April 18, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Our Beagle has lymphoma. She is on prilosec and prednisone and some Chinese herbs. She doesn’t have much time left. The prednisone causes some side effects like heavy panting, and I reduced the dose from 20 mg to 10 today to see how she seems to feel. She is not panting. I am waiting for the dr to confirm that 10 mg is okay because you cant just stop prednisone you have to taper. If the dr insists on 20 mg, I will give her 10 mg later on today.

  13. The vets recently checked our dog over as we found a lump that had developed quite quickly, they said just by feeling it that it was cancer & that he wouldn’t have long left. We brought him back to pts at home with any show of decline & they did not give him any medication but over 2 weeks on he is still the same dog (thankfully) running, barking, toileting / eating/ drinking normally. We are enjoying every moment but I wonder should he be taking anything in the meantime?

    • Dani, please please please go see another veterinarian who is more forward-thinking and willing to aspirate the lump. We are not vets but it’s our understanding after talking with cancer experts that a lump cannot be diagnosed just by feeling or looking at it. See Dr. Sue Ettinger’s project, “See Something Do Something.” Hopefully the lump is nothing and your dog will continue enjoying many happy times with you.

    • there are so many natural treatments. also, I 100% believe that the right food and water and ‘program’ can cure the lumps and bumps that pets seem to get alllll the time now! it may not have to be the end. Vets easily dismiss ‘us’ and it makes me so mad!
      I have written in response to a few other posts above if anything that I wrote there may help you all.
      I guess the shortest suggestion that I can say is to read Pets at Risk by Plechner.

      blessing to you!

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