Dexamethasone is a powerful glucocorticoid that is used in veterinary medicine to treat a very wide range of conditions, from inflammation to autoimmune diseases. Dexamethasone is similar to cortisone, a naturally-occurring hormone produced by the adrenal gland. This far-ranging medication affects every organ system in the body and as such, it should only be administered when necessary.

Veterinary Uses for Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone is used by veterinarians to treat a wide range of afflictions. The drug is commonly used as an element in certain treatment plans for various cancers, liver disorders, skin disorders, gastrointestinal diseases, respiratory diseases and nervous system abnormalities. It can also be used to suppress the immune system in immune-mediated autoimmune diseases like hemolytic anemia. In addition, it can be used to treat the symptoms of shock caused by infection or the release of endotoxins, as well as for certain adrenal gland diseases.

How Is Dexamethasone Supplied?

Dexamethasone, because of its broad use requirements, is available in virtually all compounded formulations including oral, topical, injection, ophthalmic and powder formulations. Dosage, frequency and mode of administration are determined by the treating veterinarian; customized for each animal patient. This medication is only available with a prescription and can be obtained in a generic form through a veterinary compounding pharmacy or via its veterinary trade names, which include Azium®, Dexameth-A-Vet®, Pet-Derm® and Dex-A-Vet®.

Dexamethasone Precautions and Potential Drug Interactions

Dexamethasone should be avoided in animals with a known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug. It should also be avoided in animals suffering from liver injuries, fungal infections or infectious diseases. Additionally, Dexamethasone should not be administered to pregnant animals, as it may induce labor.

Dexamethasone therapy should not be stopped abruptly, or it may cause complications with the adrenal glands. The patient should be slowly weaned to prevent this from occurring.

This is a strong medication that may interact with other drugs or therapies. Consult with your veterinarian before administering Dexamethasone to your pet. Drugs known to interact with Dexamethasone include furosemide, phenobarbital, insulin, NSAIDs and certain vaccines.

Possible Adverse Reactions With Dexamethasone

Dexamethasone may cause some animals to experience certain side effects, the most common of which include increased panting and thirst, increased appetite, restlessness, vomiting and diarrhea. Prolonged used of the drug will increase the risk of stomach or intestinal ulcers, liver impairment, hair loss, muscle weakness and changes in the animal’s normal behavior.

Author: Giano Panzarella