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Dogs, cats and horses
May Be Prescribed by Veterinarians for:
Dexamethasone is commercially available as oral concentrate1mg/ml, oral elixir/solution 0.5mg/ml, oral tablet 0.25mg, 0.5mg, 0.75mg, 1mg, 1.5mg, 2mg, 4mg, 6mg, injection solution 2mg/ml, 4mg/ml, and 10mg/ml.
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Dexamethasone is a synthetic corticosteroid with approximately 25 times the anti-inflammatory potency of naturally occurring cortisol. Corticosteroids such as dexamethasone are important in normal protein, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and for their role in controlling inflammation. These drugs have both strong beneficial effects and a definite potential to cause negative side-effects. Dexamethasone commonly is used in both small- and large-animal veterinary medicine. It may be given by injection, inhalation, orally, or topically. Preparations for topical use may include other active ingredients such as antibiotics, antifungals, or miticides.
Dexamethasone is used systemically in high doses in emergency situations for anaphylactic reactions, spinal cord trauma, or shock. It is used in manage and treat immune-mediated disease such as immune-mediated hemolytic anemia or thrombocytopenia; some cancers; allergic reactions such as asthma, hives, and itching; inflammatory diseases and some neurologic diseases. Dexamethasone also is used topically to treat a variety of skin and eye problems.
Dexamethasone is given systemically to decrease inflammatory and immune responses. It is used in high doses in emergencies for anaphylactic reactions, spinal cord trauma, or shock. It is used in lower doses to treat allergic reactions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), hives, itching, inflammatory diseases including arthritis, and to manage and treat immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, and thrombocytopenia. It sometimes is used systemically as a "performance-enhancing” drug because corticosteroids decrease inflammation, possibly enhance glucose metabolism (there is some debate about this) and may have some mood elevating properties. Other corticosteroids are preferred for intra-articular use.
Systemic side-effects to corticosteroids generally are dependent on dose and duration of treatment. Adrenocorticosteroids have effects on every body system.
Short-term administration of even large doses is unlikely to cause serious harmful systemic effects due to adrenal suppression. Problems associated with long-term administration of dexamethasone relate to suppression of normal adrenal function, iatrogenic Cushing's Disease and metabolic crisis due to abrupt withdrawal.
Dr. Barbara Forney is a veterinary practitioner in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She has a master's degree in animal science from the University of Delaware and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in 1982.
She began to develop her interest in client education and medical writing in 1997. Recent publications include portions of The Pill Book Guide to Medication for Your Dog and Cat, and most recently Understanding Equine Medications published by the Bloodhorse.
Dr. Forney is an FEI veterinarian and an active member of the AAEP, AVMA, and AMWA.
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