The Different Classes of Steroids Administered to Dogs

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There are 7

types of steroids

that are given to dogs. Most commonly given as medications, they perform different functions in the body Although they perform important functions in the body, steroids are the source of many side effects. To better understand the effects of steroids, you have to know how each type functions and what it's used for. Let's take a look at 3 of the main types of steroids.

Mineralocorticoids

Commonly used for dogs with Addison's disease, their body lacks Mineralocorticoids which is used to balance out the water and electrolytes in the body Addison's diseases also leads to a lack of glucocorticoids which dictates how your dog responds to stressful situations. To treat dogs with this disease, steroids are injected or orally ingested. Desoxycorticosterone and fludrocortisone are popular Mineralocorticoids that are administered. The only side effect observed for this medication is increased urination and thirst. Serious side effects are only observed if medication is suddenly stopped or if an overdose is given.

Glucocorticoids

This is one of the most commonly used kind of steroids. Fludrocortisone, hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, betamethasone, and other popular medications are glucocorticoids. They are used to reduce inflammation and are used to treat allergies, Addison's disease, immune-mediated diseases and some forms of cancer. These medications can be administered through injections, orally and topically. If this class of steroids are provided at high doses at high frequencies, side effects include abnormal behaviors, muscular weakness, and Cushing’s disease. Serious side effects are more common if the drug is injected rather than orally or topically administered.

Estrogens

Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a synthetic form of a naturally occuring hormone, Estrogen. It is used to treat female dogs with urinary incontinence. Ideally, a safer drug known as phenylpropanolamine (PPA) is given but if it is not producing the desired results then stronger drugs are given. The drugs are also used to induce female dogs to go into heat. These kind of steroids have serious side effects like fatal uterine infections, blood disorders and sometimes even increase the likelihood of cancer.

Androgens

Similarly to estrogens, androgens are naturally occuring hormones in male dogs. This class of steroid includes testosterone, mibolerone, and danazol. They are used to treat urinary incontinence in male dogs and alleviate fake pregnancies in female dogs. Some of them are also used to suppress the heat cycles of male dogs. Potential serious side effects include liver problems, and some types of cancer.There are 3 more classes of steroids – Anabolic Steroids, Adrenal Cortical Steroids and Progestins. While steroids are a must for some dogs, they do have high incidences of side effects, especially when high doses are administered. It is recommended to give the lowest possible dose for the shortest time periods to avoid side effects. Always consult a vet before administering any steroid or medication.

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