Help me help my dog...
January 21, 2010 3:05 PM   Subscribe

How do you deal with a dog on prednisone (specifically, the constant need to urinate due to increase thirst)? Also, what could be the cause of the problem that put my dog on prednisone?

My small 3-year-old mix (Papillon/Chihuahua or something similar), started developing a rash around his muzzle and under his chin in the beginning of January. It wasn't too bad at first, but progressed, and after two weeks it warranted a trip to the vet.

The vet wasn't sure what the cause was, but thought it might be the fact that he used a plastic feed bowl while we were visiting my parents for the holidays. (This seems kind of unlikely to me, since he's used that bowl several times before, and once for an entire summer, without problems). She plucked hairs for a fungal analysis (which came back negative). She tried to do a skin scraping to look for something else (bacteria or something, I think?), but he was too wiggly, and she didn't want to slip and cut him. So she put him on prednisone and an antibiotic, and said that if the rash didn't go away, she'd probably have to sedate him for the skin scraping.

It looks like it may be improving a bit (he's only been on the meds since Saturday), but I'm curious...has anyone ever experienced a similar rash with their dog? Or have other ideas for what might have caused such a rash?

Also, the prednisone makes him need to urinate frequently. Before this incident, he hadn't had an accident for over a year, but he's had two accidents since being on the medication. I hear that's common with prednisone, but still...kind of frustrating. Any tips for working with a dog on prednisone? Of course I'm taking him out more frequently, but sometimes he has to go an hour or less after coming in, without giving me an indication that he needs to go out. I'm kind of at a loss for what to do to avoid a number of accidents while he's on this medication...

So, basically looking for some answers...or at least some commiseration.

posted by mingodingo to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Commiseration on the peeing. Sorry, no answers, it's not their fault or lack of'll be over soon.

As to the rash, one of my dogs seems to have allergies that manifest pretty exclusively as a rash (around her eyes, but also the muzzle and maybe the chin). She got a shot of prednisone then the pills. In her case, the vet said that some dogs actually get allergy shots. He said that if I start to notice the early rash-y stuff I can give her a Benadryl (I double checked with him, he said a WHOLE pill, even though she's 20 pounds), but definitely don't give your dog any meds without checking with your vet.
posted by Pax at 3:24 PM on January 21, 2010

What do you feed him? Dogs can develop allergies to foods just like people. Lots of dogs have sensitivities to corn and other grains that can be mitigated by purchasing a higher quality food that does not include grains as fillers.

Also, if it is an allergy, the rash is likely looking better due to the prednisone minimizing the body's immune response to whatever is causing the rash.
posted by chiababe at 3:41 PM on January 21, 2010

The accidents are a pain, but it'll pass - just be calm about it because dogs hate Being Bad Dogs and it's not his fault. I had a dog on that medication and once she was off it we didn't have any more problems.
posted by moxiedoll at 3:47 PM on January 21, 2010

I had a dog that was on long-term prednisone, and the only way I was able to control her peeing was to limit her water intake. I gave her a set amount of water two times a day, and made sure I got her outside plenty to avoid accidents. It helped tremendously.
posted by tryniti at 3:54 PM on January 21, 2010

Response by poster: I don't get upset with him when he has accidents, b/c I know it's the medication and not his fault. The first accident was largely my fault, because he woke me up, but by the time I threw clothes on, it was too late.

As far as limiting the water intake, the vet cautioned against that because prednisone can do a number on a dog's kidneys if they don't drink enough water while on the medication (which is obviously more than they would need normally).

chiababe, he's pretty much always been on a grain free diet, most recently nature's choice duck and potato...I usually rotate grain free foods every few months, but he had been eating this for a while with no problems.

Also, if it is an allergy-related rash, how long should it take for the prednisone to make it pretty much disappear?
posted by mingodingo at 4:03 PM on January 21, 2010

No experience with a dog, but I did go through this with a couple of cats. I didn't really believe the plastic bowl theory with the first one, and he got sicker and sicker. Eating was so painful that he essentially starved to death. With the second one, I switched to glass bowls and he recovered. Apparently there's a chemical in plastic that many animals are allergic to. if you're still using plastic, I advise you to switc to switch bowls, since long-term prednisone use compromises the immune system (it's a steroid - the first cat developed ulcers in his throat which wouldn't respond to treatment) It does cut down pain and inflamation but is not something you don't want to rely on for a long time. And, yeah, I'm not a vet, but listen to yours, please.
posted by path at 4:58 PM on January 21, 2010

Response by poster: Not using a plastic bowl anymore--now using metal, as well as a little food dispensing toy that he's been using forever.
posted by mingodingo at 5:11 PM on January 21, 2010

You can't really do much with the peeing, unfortunately. Just make sure to take him out first thing in the morning, before you leave the house, at least one or two more times during the day until you get home, as needed at night, and right before you go to bed.
Have you always lived in the same place? Some dogs have seasonal allergies from outdoor stuff like people.
posted by ishotjr at 5:20 PM on January 21, 2010

Also, if it is an allergy-related rash, how long should it take for the prednisone to make it pretty much disappear?

My dog started to get relief (she was very irritated by the rash) within a few hours of the shot, and then the whole thing cleared up within the week of pills.
posted by Pax at 5:50 PM on January 21, 2010

Our dog had mystery snout irritation a while ago in the same areas as your dog. The vet put her on prednisone and Malaseb spray. Now, when we see her getting red and a little swollen, we just swab the affected areas with Malaseb soaked gauze and it clears up after a few days. We stopped the prednisone when we ran out of it. Malaseb works against fungus, yeast, and microbes and has other ingredients to sooth irritated doggy skin. You can buy it online. BTW, I don't know how it affects dogs, but when I was on prednisone it made me grouchy as hell and pretty hard to live with.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:36 PM on January 21, 2010

My dog had face rash, it was bacterial. Antibiotics for 21 days and chlorhexadine lotion worked. Do you have a picture of the rash?

The purpose of a skin scraping is to check for mites, specifically Demodex and Sarcoptes. Seriously doubt it.

Sorry about the excessive urination. Would crating help?

A picture of the rash would be helpful.
posted by bolognius maximus at 7:11 PM on January 21, 2010

My late dog Pepper was on prednisone for most of her life due to ehrlichia. She experienced most of what you're talking about, as well as ravenous feeding. Basically what I would suggest is to stay on top of her for bathroom breaks. Like, seriously. To keep her from peeing in the house, we would routinely let her outside to use the bathroom every half-hour to an hour (aside from being in her crate while we were not home). She didn't normally pee where she slept, but it did happen occasionally. I'm not sure about the rash thing, so I can't help you there. Hopefully you won't have to deal with a dog on prednisone for it's entire life like I did.

Good luck!
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 7:12 PM on January 21, 2010

Response by poster: ishotjr: We've lived where we are now for about a year. Although this started when we were at my parents' in Texas for the holidays (we live in California). Originally, I thought the issue was that his snout got "chapped" from playing in the snow at my parents' place. But I guess that's kind of ridiculous...

Daddy-O: Did your dog not try to lick off the spray? My vet said she couldn't really treat this topically, since it was right around his mouth and he'd just lick it off.

Bolognius: No picture, unfortunately. I didn't take one when it was at its worst, and now it looks to have improved a bit (thank goodness!). Thanks for the info re: the purpose of the skin scraping. I hope this continues to improve and it doesn't come to that--the cost of the test itself would probably be financially feasible, but adding sedation to it would be tricky (plus, I hate to have him sedated unnecessarily). Out of curiosity, why do you doubt that it's mites? I've seen dogs with mange, but don't know what you should really look for in the early stages...

Thanks again for all the suggestions, everyone!
posted by mingodingo at 9:04 PM on January 21, 2010

Licking off the Malaseb was not a problem. Within less than a week the redness and swelling around her whisker area and underneath her mouth was pretty much gone. We never figured out what was causing the reaction, but we took a SWAG (scientific wild ass guess) she was getting into something in the backyard. It hasn't been a problem lately since the weather turned cooler. i don't know what is wrong with your dog, of course, but a very similar sounding problem was really knocked out by the Malaseb.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:41 PM on January 21, 2010

Unfortunately, there's not much you can do about the accidents. My Great Dane has been on prednisone a few times, and if we don't take her out constantly it's like Lake Erie in the kitchen.

As far as the rash, maybe it's dog acne? I know it usually presents in younger dogs, but it can be an issue in older dogs too, especially if their food and water bowls get dirty.
posted by thejanna at 6:22 AM on January 22, 2010

Mingodingo: The reasons why I doubt that your dog has mites are 1) sarcoptic mange is contagious-to people, too. I am just guessing, but most people with dinky dogs (i.e. a Papillon/Chihuahua mix) don't let their dogs run freely without supervision, and the dog would have to come in contact with an animal with sarcoptic mange. 2) Demodectic mange is usually found in puppies and dogs with suppressed immune systems. You didn't mention the health status of your dog, but I am guessing that he is fairly healthy. If you want more info on it, I have tons.
posted by bolognius maximus at 8:06 AM on January 22, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the info, bolognius. He does go to dog daycare during the week and of course interacts with other dogs there, but obviously they don't let dogs come if they have some sort of a contagious issue. (And who're you callin' dinky? ;) j/k ).

thejanna, I thought dog acne might be it. The only thing is that the affected area is only red--there aren't really any bumps to speak of.
posted by mingodingo at 3:20 PM on January 22, 2010

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