Understanding SteroidsDecember 13, 2016
TYPES OF STEROIDS
Steroids can be divided into two common classes: anabolic and corticosteroids. Anabolic steroids are commonly misused by weight lifters and body builders to increase muscle size and strength. Although this category of steroids is sometimes used for certain medical conditions in pets, anti-inflammatory steroids (corticosteroids) are the most commonly used drugs in this class for our pets. Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands, this substance can minimize inflammation at high doses and at even higher doses it can suppress the body’s immune response.
WHY ARE STEROIDS USED?
Steroids are commonly used in the treatment protocols of the following diseases: Lymphoma, Mast Cell Tumors and Histiocytic Sarcoma. Steroids will also be used to help increase your pets’ appetite and aid in reducing inflammation of various tumor types.
If your pet is on steroid therapy, it is common for them to also be receiving Pepcid (famotidine) or Prilosec (omeprazole) as an aid to prevent any gastrointestinal irritation.
COMMON SIDE EFFECTS INCLUDE:
- Increased Thirst/Increased Urination
- Increased Panting
- Increased Appetite
- Muscle Loss
- Restless Behavior
When steroids are prescribed it is common and necessary to have a tapering dose – this class of steroids tends to mimic the body’s naturally occurring hormones. While your pet is receiving steroids, the body will decrease its own production of cortisol. As the dose of steroids is decreased during the taper it will prompt the body to create its own cortisol. If the steroids are discontinued abruptly, the body does not have a chance to self-regulate, this can be detrimental to the patient. Therefore, it is very important that you do not stop this medication abruptly.
STEROIDS COMMONLY USED IN ONCOLOGY:
- Methylprednisolone (Medrol)
It is important to know that Steroids should never be taken with an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) as this can cause dangerous intestinal and gastric bleeding. Common NSAIDs are listed below. Be sure to tell the doctor if your dog is currently on one of these medications.
COMMONLY USED NSAIDS:
- Rimadyl/Novox (carprofen)
- Previcox (firocoxib)
- Deramaxx (deracoxib)
- Metacam (meloxicam)
- Aspirin (Not commonly used for cancer treatment)