Cortisone for Skin Allergies

Ask Dr. Bob (1)
At CVPC we use Kenalog (Triamcinolone) for dogs and Depo-Medrol for cats to help combat skin allergies. In general, cats are more tolerant of cortisone than dogs are, so that is why we typically use the longer-acting Depo-Medrol for cats.

I get occasional questions about the use of cortisone/corticosteroids in pets.  I think it’s unfortunate that some veterinarians are misinforming their clients about the use of cortisone.  Because of bad publicity involving athletes and the ABUSE of corticosteroids, society has been painted a picture of fear about the use of cortisone.  To be honest, cortisone/corticosteroids can provide significant benefit to the quality of a pet’s (or a person’s) life when used as therapy.  And we are only using cortisone as therapy… not for outright abuse!  Sadly, sensationalism is far more common than good science.

The benefits of cortisone for terribly itchy pets can dramatically improve that pet’s overall comfort and well-being… even if for only 3 to 5 weeks. While we definitely want to limit the use of cortisone, it does have great value for dogs and cats with skin allergies. We hear it from clients over and over and over again how much happier their terribly itchy pets are when they receive a cortisone injection. Ultimately, of course, the decision to use cortisone, or ANY other medication, is in the hands of the pet owner.

By the way, to take this discussion one step further, would you take a medication with the following potential side-effects:

  • Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fast breathing
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Loss of hearing
  • Bloody vomit
  • Bright red blood in stools

Just so you know, I personally have taken this medication nearly every day for the past 30+ years… and I will continue to take it.  What is it that has those nasty side effects? Aspirin!  What’s the difference between medicine or poison? It’s the dose that makes a medication a poison and that dose will vary from individual to individual. It’s helpful to understand that EVERY bite of food, every medication you take, anything you swallow or rub onto your skin, or anything you inject into your body will have a biochemical effect on your body… for good or bad.  That’s why I insist that FOOD is the most powerful ‘drug’ in the world since we are constantly affecting our well-being (again, for good or bad) with the dietary choices we make several times each and every day of our lives.

OK, I will climb off my soapbox now and get onto your pet’s health…

Hope to see you soon!
– Dr. Bob