Dexamethasone in Cats - Dosage and Side Effects

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Dexamethasone is a well-known drug that is used in both human and veterinary medicine. Its presence in home medicine cabinets encourages some keepers to administer it to their cats in situations where they would use it themselves. But it supposes a serious mistake.

In this AnimalWised article we will explain all the contraindications and side effects it may have. dexamethasone in cats. Hence the importance of limiting its use to the recommendations of the veterinarian..

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  1. What is dexamethasone?
  2. Uses of dexamethasone in cats
  3. Dexamethasone dose in cats
  4. Contraindications of dexamethasone in cats
  5. Side effects of dexamethasone in cats

What is dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is a known synthetic glucocorticoid which derives from cortisol and is capable of maintaining a prolonged action. It stands out for its anti-inflammatory power. Among other effects, it causes an increase in glucose in the blood and glycogen in the liver, decreases the vascular reaction that causes inflammation, inhibits the release of histamine or ACTH and reduces the production of antibodies. It is a drug that contributes to the improvement of the clinical signs that the cat shows more than to its cure. That is why the veterinarian will prescribe other drugs and measures designed to combat the cause of his disease..

When administered subcutaneously or intramuscularly absorbs very quickly, in a matter of minutes, and is distributed throughout the tissues. It is excreted in the urine and in the bile. Dexamethasone in cats can be found in injectable format or in chewable tablets.

Uses of dexamethasone in cats

Dexamethasone, as we have advanced, stands out for its anti-inflammatory effect, but also antiallergic and immunosuppressive. For this reason, it is used, above all, in the following cases:

  • Inflammatory processes.
  • Allergies.
  • Trauma.
  • Shock and circulatory collapse.

It can also be used in joints, which means that it is practically immobilized for a month and that it is impossible to perform surgery for two.

Dexamethasone dose in cats

The dose of dexamethasone can only be determined by the veterinarian, since the cat's disease, its condition, its weight, as well as the format of the chosen drug must be taken into account. For example, if you go for injectable dexamethasone, which you can administer intramuscularly, intravenously, or intra-articularly, the dose would be 0.1-0.3 mg per kg of live weight.

As you can see, the manufacturer recommends a dosage range that it considers safe and effective. Only the veterinary professional, we insist, can decide the right one for our cat. It will be searched whenever as low as possible and for the shortest time, maintaining its beneficial effect. That is why it is common for the vet to have to adjust the dosage. Finally, it is recommended to administer in the afternoon.

Contraindications of dexamethasone in cats

Although there are some cases in which it is not advisable to bet on dexamethasone, the decision whether to administer it or not will depend exclusively on the veterinarian. In cases like the ones we expose below, its use is not recommended, but if the animal is in a emergency situation, it is quite possible that the professional considers its administration. They are as follows:

  • Immunosuppression.
  • Mellitus diabetes.
  • Chronic nephritis, which is an inflammation of the kidney.
  • Renal insufficiency.
  • Heart failure.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Diseases caused by viruses when active in the blood.
  • Systemic fungal infections.
  • Pathologies of bacterial origin if the cat is not receiving the corresponding antibiotic treatment.
  • Ulcers both at the gastrointestinal level and on the cornea.
  • Glaucoma, a serious eye disease.
  • Demodicosis, which is a parasitic disease caused by the Demodex mite.
  • Burns.
  • Fractures, infections of the joints caused by bacteria or necrosis in the bone advise against its intra-articular administration..
  • Cats in pregnancy, as it could cause malformations in the fetuses, abortions, premature or difficult deliveries, death of the kittens, retention of the placentas or metritis, which is the inflammation of the uterus. It can also affect milk production during breastfeeding..
  • Very old, malnourished or hypertensive cats. On the other hand, it has an effect on growth, hence the caution with the youngest specimens.
  • Of course, if we suspect or know that the cat is allergic to dexamethasone.

In addition, it is important to consider the interaction what can occur between dexamethasone and other medications. That is why we must always inform the veterinarian of any drug that we are giving the cat, if it is unknown. For example, due to the immunosuppressive effect of dexamethasone, it cannot be combined with vaccines or given within two weeks after vaccination. Also interacts with insulin.

Side effects of dexamethasone in cats

Consumption of dexamethasone can cause Cushing's syndrome, also known as iatrogenic hyperadrenocorticism. It is a disease that triggers symptoms such as weight gain, weakness, loss of muscle mass or osteoporosis. To try to avoid it, at the end of the treatment it is recommended withdraw dexamethasone gradually. It is also tried to avoid its prolonged use to minimize the risks. On the other hand, it is relatively easy and quick to see signs such as the following when the drug is administered systemically:

  • Polyuria, which is an increase in the amount of urine passed.
  • Polydipsia or increased water intake.
  • Polyphagia, which involves a high consumption of food.
  • Hypokalaemia, which is a decrease in potassium levels in the blood, especially in cats that are being treated with diuretics that favor the excretion of potassium.
  • Calcinosis cutaneous, a skin disease caused by an abnormal deposit of calcium in the subcutaneous tissue.
  • Gastrointestinal ulcers, especially if used at the same time as an NSAID.
  • Possible delay in wound healing.
  • In some cases, fluid retention.
  • Enlargement of the liver, which is known as hepatomegaly. Liver enzymes will also be increased.
  • Pancreatitis.
  • Hyperglycemia, which is a blood glucose value above what is considered normal.

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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