How Dexamethasone Works
- Dexamethasone is a synthetic drug five times stronger than the cortisol made by the adrenal glands. Dexamethasone imitates the effect of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is made by the adrenal glands and is used in times of stress to break down stored fats, proteins, and sugars for energy. The medicine can be given orally, topically or by injection. Once given to the cat, the medicine acts as a strong anti- inflammatory drug, relieving many of the symptoms that are causing the pain.
Types of Pain Dexamethasone Is Used For
- Dexamethasone is prescribed for a number of ailments in cats, including pain associated with bone and joint problems; certain kinds of cancer; shock; and some allergic reactions such as hives or itching. Some veterinarians prescribe dexamethasone for central nervous system problems associated with the spine or discs and for respiratory problems that may be caused by inflammation in the lungs. The anti-inflammatory properties of the drug give it a wide variety of uses.
Dexathethasone for Arthritis Pain
- One of the widest uses for dexamethasone is to treat the pain of arthritis in cats. Since cats are intolerant of many anti-inflammatory drugs, dexamethasone is a preferred choice when treating arthritis. Cats generally do not have side effects from the drug when it is used as part of a treatment plan for arthritis.
Risks Associated with Dexamethasone
- The side effects of dexamethasone are similar to steroid drugs in humans. The drug can hide symptoms of respiratory infections or illness. It is important to keep regular check-up appointments with your veterinarian to make sure your cat is healthy beyond her appearance. Risks associated with long-term use of dexamethasone in cats include weight gain, mood changes, liver problems, diabetes, fluid retention and a weakening of the cat's immune system. If the cat has gastrointestinal problems or ulcers, dexamethasone may aggravate or worsen the problem.
Effects of Long-Term Use
- Veterinarians usually prescribe this drug for short periods of time and do not recommend it be given on a daily basis. If dexamethasone is prescribed for chronic pain and taken for extended periods of time, it is important to taper the cat off the drug slowly instead of stopping the drug immediately. This gives the adrenal glands a chance to begin working on their own without the assistance of the dexamethasone. Failure to withdrawal the drug slowly can cause metabolic and hormonal problems for the cat.