side effects of corisoneThe last article looked at why cortisone / steroids are used in dog allergy treatments, but because the synthetic ones are so strong to get the job done, caution and monitoring must be undertaken.

While short term side effects can be a problem, they are often minor and dosages can be adjusted or treatments stopped and other things used such as anti-histamines and other things that reduce swelling, like Omega 3

Possible short term cortisone effects on dogs

  • Increased thirst & urination
  • Increased hunger
  • Panting  and  energy loss
  • Increased secondary infections such as  bacterial  (due to immune suppression)
  • Vomiting or nausea

Some dogs can even develop diabetes on even short term steroid use, but normal functioning often resumes after treatment is discontinued.

If the skin allergy affect is severe such as endangering the dogs hearing, or a massive hot spot, vets will usually try another version of the cortisone with less side affects.

Cortisone LONG term side effects in dogs

When high doses of cortisone over 3 months are prescribed the auto immune suppression issue becomes very problematic for a lot of dogs.

These are some of the longer term symptoms of cortisone prescriptions

  • Increased chances of diabetes mellitus
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) in up to 30% of dogs.  NOTE a dog receiving steroids will not experience the usual symptoms of UTI  because the steroid will suppress the inflammation and discomfort commonly associated with a UTI. Also because dogs can’t complain like humans, you may not even know.
  • Dogs develop obesity (from increased hunger)
  • muscle weakness secondary to protein catabolism (breakdown)
  • An excessive level of corticosteroids may cause Cushing’s disease.  This is a very serious illness for dogs with long term health implications and often shortened life.

LONG TERM cortisone treatment affects on skin

  • increased susceptibility to opportunistic or secondary bacterial infections – the very thing that cortisone is treating !
  • Blackheads, and a poor or thin skin and hair loss and even demodectic mange.
  • poor wound healing ability which can lead to increased susceptibility to fungal infections (in nose and ears)
  • Development of hard plaques or spots on the skin called calcinosis cutis. Caused by calcium deposits in the skin.

You will notice that many of these affects are as worse as the skin condition (dog allergy) that they are trying to treat !


Long term use of cortisones for dogs and humans is bad.  There are alternatives for treating most skin allergies.  Long term use (over a month) is only recommended for life threatening illnesses.

If your dog is receiving corticosteroids to reduce itching or   pain relief, you ought to try and use them alternative days (in long term use).