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Itching due to allergies is usually well controlled with cortisone treatment. However, cortisone does not cure the problem and the symptoms reappear when stopped. Cortisone treatments are often feared by pet owners because of the possible side effects.

The severity cortisone side effects are usually related to the dose administered and the duration of treatment. But in an urgent situation, cortisone has its place. Some would say that it is generally desirable to find another treatment modality, such as essential fatty acids from omega 3, 6 and 9 botanical oils, or homeopathic remedies.

By applying the following basic rules, you can generally reducethe side effects of cortisone *:

  • Use cortisone tablets. Cortisone injections should be avoided because they can have prolonged and undesirable effects on the body.
  • Initially, cortisone is administered daily to bring the problem under control, but after about a week, cortisone should be given every other day.
  • Administer the cortisone tablets in the morning preferably (in the dog).
  • Attempt to find the minimum effective dose every 2 days (or even 3 days) that will control the problem.

Unlike antibiotics for which the dosage (doses, intervals and duration of treatment) must be respected, for cortisone the dosage can be adjusted as needed to find the lowest dose, and administered as often as possible, which will control the problem. It is the role of the owner of the animal to achieve this balance.

*Department of Dermatology—University Veterinary Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Montréal University

@ Raymond Racicot, veterinarian

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