Is it really necessary?

"Prednisolone is a very useful drug but needs to be closely controlled by the veterinarian, for maximal health of their patients"

On prescribing prednisolone


Sometimes it may seem as if we react like the Bailiff in Oliver Twist when clients ask for another bottle of prednisolone for their pet.  However unlike the Bailiff our hesitancy is based upon a genuine concern for the health and safety of your pet!

 Please take the time to read these notes and hopefully next time when you need to ask for more prednisolone you will share our concerns and you may even ask us to consider the possibility of an alternative solution to your pet’s problem.  


Prednisolone is a type of steroid, which is prescribed for pets to:

  1.  Reduce scratching/itchiness

  2. Reduce inflammation/swelling/pain in other areas of the body, as in cases of spinal injuries.

  3. Chemotherapy

  4. Immune mediated disease

 Prednisolone is a very useful drug, but it must be used wisely, in order to benefit your pet maximally.  It is for this reason the Veterinary community, whenever possible, prefer to use prednisolone as a short-term treatment only.

 Side Effects

Consider the following list of side effects:

  1. Increased thirst

  2. Increased urination

  3. Increased appetite

  4. Panting

  5. Vomiting

  6. Diarrhoea

And in chronic use:

  1. Drug induced Cushing’s Disease (Adrenal atrophy)

  2. Excessive weight gain

  3. Skin fragility, thinning

  4.  Depression of the immune system

  5. Risk of inducing diabetes

  6. Risk of inducing pancreatitis

In addition to the above prednisolone can have some 20 other adverse effects on the animal’s blood and urine picture!


Prednisolone as a drug has the legal category of “S4”.  This means that the drug is potentially dangerous and as such a Veterinarian can only prescribe the drug when indicated, only in reasonable quantities and only for animals directly under their care.  This drug cannot be supplied “Just in case” or because “that’s the drug I want” etc.  This principle applies to all S4 drugs. If veterinarians abuse the trust placed in them they will inevitably lose the right to keep and dispense S4 drugs, (In Europe, clients must visit a pharmacy to get prescriptions filled. A real inconvenience, and greater expense. Let us avoid this scenario.)


 For all these reasons we are careful when we prescribe prednisolone. It is not a panacea. We often do need to re check skin conditions because skin problems are many and diverse, yet they often all look the same to the untrained eye. Prednisolone can be contraindicated in a number of skin conditions so it is important to understand our need to recheck your pets skin from time to time. We cannot simply and blindly re-issue prednisolone. This would be irresponsible.