Pain Management Options (Including Steroids) For Cats And Dogs


If your cat or dog is diagnosed with arthritis, your vet will discuss methods to alleviate their pain while managing the condition. One possible option is the use of steroids, which can significantly reduce pain and inflammation. However, it's important for you, as a pet owner, to understand both the benefits and potential drawbacks of steroids before deciding on this treatment for your pet. Your active involvement in this decision-making process is crucial.

How Do Steroids Work?

Steroids, or corticosteroids, are hormones naturally produced in all warm-blooded animals, including dogs and cats. These hormones regulate various functions, such as immune response and inflammation control. The steroids prescribed for arthritis treatment are synthetic versions that imitate these natural hormones with much higher potency. Medications like prednisone or dexamethasone are typically used for acute cases rather than long-term care. These steroids significantly reduce inflammation, helping pets with arthritis move more quickly and experience less pain.

Steroid Use Precautions

Unfortunately, steroids come with side effects. While effective for acute pain and inflammation, they are not suitable for long-term use. Prolonged use can damage joints and cause stomach ulcers and liver damage. Cats are generally less affected by these side effects, but dogs are usually given safer alternatives for pain and inflammation. Additionally, corticosteroids can interact negatively with other medications, including those for arthritis treatment.

NSAIDs vs Steroids

A safer alternative to steroids is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These drugs also reduce joint inflammation and provide pain relief for arthritis. While NSAIDs are generally safer than steroids, they can still cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, and lethargy. Some NSAIDs are highly toxic to cats, so it is crucial only to give medications prescribed by your vet.


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