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At a Glance
Effective for treating allergies and inflammation
Decreases swelling and pain caused by inflammatory conditions
It can also be used to treat certain forms of arthritis


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At a Glance
Effective for treating allergies and inflammation
Decreases swelling and pain caused by inflammatory conditions
It can also be used to treat certain forms of arthritis

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Dexamethasone is used in the treatment of myositis, arthritis, dermatitis, allergies and supportive therapy in all animals. It can be used to treat various cancers, respiratory diseases, liver disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, and skin disorders. It is a corticosteroid which inhibits inflammation, and reduces irritation, redness, burning, and swelling, making your pet more comfortable and happier.

Since dexamethasone is such a powerful medication, and because it was designed for people and only available as an extra-label' prescription for pets, you should follow your vet's direction on how to administer dexamethasone. Talk to your vet before adjusting your pets prescription.

  • Skin & Coat Pharmacy
  • Gastrointestinal Pharmacy
  • Arthritis & Pain Pharmacy
  • Allergy Relief Pharmacy
  • Asthma & Respiratory Pharmacy
  • Oral Application
  • Cat Pet Type
  • Dog Pet Type

What is Dexamethasone used for in pets?

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid medication that can be prescribed for various medical conditions in pets. Dexamethasone is often used to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune response in pets with conditions such as allergic reactions, skin disorders (e.g., dermatitis), and autoimmune diseases. Dexamethasone can be administered to pets experiencing severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis or angioedema, to help alleviate swelling and inflammation. Dexamethasone may be prescribed for pets with respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, or allergic airway disease to reduce airway inflammation and facilitate easier breathing. Dexamethasone can be used to manage pain and reduce inflammation associated with arthritis or other joint diseases in pets. Dexamethasone may be utilized as part of the treatment for Addison's disease, a condition characterized by insufficient production of certain hormones by the adrenal glands. In some cases, dexamethasone is used as a supportive medication during chemotherapy treatment for pets, as it can help reduce side effects and minimize allergic reactions to certain medications.

How safe is Dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is generally considered safe when used appropriately and under the guidance of a veterinarian. However, like any medication, it can have potential side effects and risks. Dexamethasone can cause various side effects, especially with prolonged use or at high doses. Common side effects include increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, weight gain, gastrointestinal upset (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea), and changes in behavior. Long-term or excessive use of dexamethasone can lead to more severe side effects, including adrenal gland suppression, immune system suppression, and increased susceptibility to infections. Some pets may be more susceptible to the side effects of dexamethasone. Certain breeds, older animals, and pets with pre-existing health conditions (such as diabetes or liver disease) may require special consideration and monitoring when using dexamethasone. Abruptly discontinuing dexamethasone after long-term use can lead to an adrenal crisis. Therefore, it's important to follow the veterinarian's instructions for tapering off the medication gradually. Dexamethasone may interact with other medications, including certain antibiotics, antifungals, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It's crucial to inform your veterinarian about all medications and supplements your pet is currently taking to avoid potential interactions. Dexamethasone should only be used under the supervision and prescription of a veterinarian who can evaluate your pet's specific condition, determine the appropriate dosage, and monitor their response to the medication.

How does Dexamethasone work in dogs?

Dexamethasone is a synthetic glucocorticoid, belonging to the class of corticosteroid hormones. It acts by binding to glucocorticoid receptors (GRs) inside cells. Once bound to the GRs, dexamethasone influences gene expression and regulates the production of proteins that play a role in inflammation, immune responses, and various physiological processes. Dexamethasone inhibits the enzyme phospholipase A2, which is responsible for releasing arachidonic acid from cell membranes. Arachidonic acid serves as a precursor for the synthesis of inflammatory mediators such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes. By blocking phospholipase A2, dexamethasone reduces the production of these inflammatory mediators. Dexamethasone can inhibit the production and release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, including interleukins (IL-1, IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), and others. These cytokines are involved in the signaling and amplification of the inflammatory response. By suppressing their production, dexamethasone helps reduce inflammation. Dexamethasone inhibits the function of T-lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell involved in immune responses. It reduces the production of cytokines by T-cells, which helps dampen the immune response. Dexamethasone can also suppress the activity of other immune cells, including B-lymphocytes and macrophages. This reduces antibody production and the phagocytic activity of macrophages, leading to an overall immunosuppressive effect. Mast cells are immune cells involved in allergic reactions. Dexamethasone can inhibit mast cell degranulation, preventing the release of histamine and other allergic mediators responsible for itching, swelling, and inflammation. Dexamethasone can reduce the production of IgE antibodies, which play a role in allergic responses. Suppressing IgE production helps alleviate allergic symptoms.

How fast does Dexamethasone work?

When administered via intravenous (IV) or intramuscular (IM) injection, dexamethasone can have a relatively rapid onset of action. It starts working within a few hours and may continue to exert its effects for up to 24-48 hours. When given in oral tablet or liquid form, dexamethasone typically takes longer to take effect compared to injectable forms. It needs to be absorbed through the digestive system and enter the bloodstream before it can start working. Depending on the individual dog, the effects may become noticeable within several hours to a few days. Dexamethasone can also be applied topically as a cream or ointment for certain skin conditions. The onset of action with topical application can vary, but it generally takes effect within a few hours to a few days after application, depending on the specific condition and the dog's response.

Is Dexamethasone a strong steroid?

Yes, dexamethasone is considered a potent corticosteroid, often referred to as a strong steroid. It belongs to the class of glucocorticoids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive, and anti-allergic properties. Dexamethasone is more potent than some other corticosteroids, such as prednisone or hydrocortisone, and it has a longer duration of action. The potency of dexamethasone allows for lower doses to be effective in achieving the desired therapeutic effects. However, its potency also means that it carries an increased risk of potential side effects, particularly when used at high doses or for extended periods. Therefore, dexamethasone should be used judiciously under the guidance of a veterinarian who can determine the appropriate dose and duration of treatment based on the specific condition being treated and the individual needs of the dog.


Dexamethasone is a powerful anti-inflammatory, immunosuppressive drug that helps relieve pain caused by inflammation, whether it be in the joints thanks to arthritis, or a rash caused by allergies. Many conditions are the result of the body overreacting to a perceived threat (i.e., allergens) and over producing antibodies, which cause swelling. By suppressing the immune response, along with actively bringing down the swelling of affected areas, dexamethasone is able to effectively treat diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus, various allergies, asthma, dermatologic disease, hematologic disorders, neoplasia, nervous system disease, general inflammation, inflammatory bowel disease, and nephrotic syndrome.

Since this drug affects the immune system of the recipient, certain diseases can end up being exacerbated by this treatment. Pets with a fungal disease, or viremia, should never be put on dexamethasone. Due to teratogenic effects of the drug, pregnant pets should only take dexamethasone if the benefits greatly outweigh the inherent risk to the fetus. Pets that have been taking dexamethasone long term, or in high doses, should be tapered off the drug slowly. Patients with congestive heart failure, diabetes, or osteoporosis should take dexamethasone with caution. Unless it is an emergency, pets with kidney disease, GI ulcers, or hyperadrenocorticism should not take dexamethasone. Dexamethasone should never be taken with other corticosteroids, NSAIDs, or immunosuppressants, as this might exacerbate the potential for negative side effects. Taking antacids may reduce the rate at which dexamethasone is absorbed. Patients with myasthenia gravis taking anticholinesterase and dexamethasone might suffer from profound muscle weakness. Anticoagulants may be increased or decreased in effectivity. Dexamethasone decreases the effects of bacteriostatic antibiotics. Taking with estrogen agents will likely potentiate the effects of dexamethasone. Macrolide antibiotics increase or prolong the effects of dexamethasone. Potassium depleting diuretics and Amphotericin B will likely cause hypokalemia. Thanks to the diminished immune response caused by dexamethasone, vaccinationsc should not be given to patients taking the treatment. Taking aspirin or acetylsalicylic acid might reduce salicylate levels. Taking cyclophosphamide will decrease the rate at which it (cyclophosphamide) can be metabolized. Same with cyclosporine. Taking digoxin might cause hypokalemia and digitalis, with an increased risk of digitalis toxicity. Dexamethasone might increase the required amount of insulin needed in diabetic patients. Ketoconazole might increase or prolong the glucocorticoid activity. Taking with mitotane might alter the recipients metabolism, and phenobarbital, phenytoin sodium, and rifampin will all have effects on the bodies ability to metabolize glucocorticoids, like dexamethasone.

May retard growth to young animals. Can cause dull coat, weight gain, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated liver enzymes, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal ulcers, depression, lethargy and viciousness.

Do not stop using this medication suddenly, especially if it has been used for several weeks or more. The dose may need to be reduced over several days to prevent side effects.

Dexamethasone might lower the threshold at which a patient would suffer a seizure, mood alterations, changes in behavior, and their response to pyrogens. It might also stimulate the recipients appetite. High doses can be teratogenic, or dangerous to babies in utero. Polyuria, polydipsia, and polyphagia are all common side effects. Thinning of skin, bilateral symmetrical alopecia, muscle atrophy, panting, vomiting, diarrhea, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, elevated liver enzymes, GI ulceration, pancreatitis, lipidemia, worsening of diabetes, depression, lethargy, and aggression are also possible side effects. Wounds may heal slower, and risk of infection increases when taking dexamethasone. An overdose can cause fluid retention, potassium loss, and weight gain. In cats, cardiac disease or exacerbation of heart conditions might be caused by dexamethasone.

Follow directions as given by your veterinarian.

Store at room temperature, away from moisture and heat.

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