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Prednisolone is a synthetic corticosteroid with approximately four times the anti-inflammatory potency of hydrocortisone. Corticosteroids have an effect on practically every system of the body. They are important in normal protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and for their role in controlling inflammation. They have both strong beneficial effects and a definite potential to cause negative side-effects.
Prednisolone commonly is used in both small- and large-animal veterinary medicine. It may be given by injection, orally, ophthalmically, or topically. Preparations for topical use may include other active ingredients such as antibiotics, antifungals, or miticides.
Prednisone is converted by the liver to prednisolone. Animals in hepatic failure should receive prednisolone instead of prednisone. Systemic prednisolone is preferred for use in cats over prednisone because there is some question if cats are able to convert prednisone to prednisolone. Prednisolone should be used in horses rather than prednisone because horses do not absorb prednisone.
Prednisolone is used systemically in high doses in emergencies for anaphylactic reactions, spinal cord trauma, endotoxemic or septic shock. It also is used to manage and treat diseases of practically every organ system in the dog and cat including: gastrointestinal, renal, respiratory, liver, adrenal/endocrine, central nervous system, hematopoietic, dermatologic, musculoskeletal, some autoimmune diseases, some reproductive disorders, some toxicosis, and some neoplastic conditions.
Prednisolone is given systemically to decrease inflammatory and immune responses. It is used in high doses in emergencies for anaphylactic reactions, spinal-cord trauma or shock. It is used in lower doses to treat allergic reactions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, hives, itching, inflammatory diseases, and to manage and treat immune-mediated hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia. Other corticosteroids are preferred for intra-articular use.
Short-term administration of even large doses is unlikely to cause serious harmful systemic effects due to adrenal suppression. Problems associated with long-term administration of prednisolone relate to suppression of normal adrenal function, iatrogenic Cushing's Disease, and metabolic crisis due to abrupt withdrawal.
Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.
She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.
Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.
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This content is intended for counseling purposes only. This content is informational/educational and is not intended to treat or diagnose any disease or patient. No claims are made as to the safety or efficacy of mentioned preparations. The compounded medications featured in this content have been prescribed and/or administered by prescribers who work with Wedgewood Pharmacy. You are encouraged to speak with your prescriber as to the appropriate use of any medication. Wedgewood Pharmacy’s compounded veterinary preparations are not intended for use in food and food-producing animals. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.