Species: Dog Breed: Cavalier King Charle Age: 2-5 years
Sammy has been on 2.5mg of prednisone per day for the past two years for syringomyelia. I ran out of his medicine on Friday, thinking mistakenly that I had another tub in the cabinet. In the area I live there is no vet available on weekends - which means that I won't get a new prescription until Monday and he'll have spent 2-3 days suddenly without his prednisone dose. I've heard that it is dangerous to stop prednisone suddenly. He seems fine so far, but how worried should I be? Is it an emergency? (The nearest emergency vet is 2 hrs away by car, and I don't have a car)
Dr. Marie replied:
Thanks for your question.
While every situation is different, from what you have described, Sammy really should be ok until Monday.
When a dog is on a relatively high dose of prednisone, it can cause the dog to not produce cortisol properly. What this means is that if a dog on a high dose of prednisone had his dose stopped all of a sudden, there is a possibility that the body would not have enough of its own cortisol and as such not be able to respond to stress well. When this happens a dog can possibly get something called Addison's disease which is indeed serious.
With all that being said, Sammy is on a relatively low dose of prednisone. This means that the risk of developing Addison's after being off of prednisone for 2-3 days is extremely small.
If this were my case I would be advising that you monitor him until you can get some medicine on Monday. If you feel that he is not eating, really lethargic, painful, or if your gut is telling you something is wrong then it would be good to have an emergency visit.
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Dr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.
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