Cortisone Side Effects for Dogs

My personal experience with cortisone side effects for myself and my dog weren’t good. Now that I know the difference between cortisol and cortisone I would choose something else.

Meet Izzy my Golden Retriever who had cortisone side effects

What is Cortisol? A natural cortisone made by the body for dog anti inflammatory purposes. Signaled by the pituitary, it is released by the adrenal gland. A healthy dog will get just the right amount needed as part of the healing process for a specific condition.

What is Cortisone? A synthetic (man-made) version of cortisol. This dog anti inflammatory is much stronger than its natural counterpart.

The most important thing to remember is that any synthetic cortisone is so powerful that it can stop a great many widely varying symptoms in their tracks, but the problem continues in the body hidden from view.

It stops the symptoms but it does not cure.

It's important to understand what dog drugs do so we make wise choices for our canines.

Cortisone Side Effects

Cortisone draws sodium out of the cells. In route to the kidneys, the sodium then draws water from the cells it passes making your dog thirsty and urinate more often. Once in the kidneys, it must be filtered out of the body.

This adds stress on the kidneys, producing incontinence in dogs, among other things. The more cortisone, the more stress on the kidneys. Plus this synthetic form of cortisol throws the adrenal off balance so it cannot make cortisol.

Short term effects may include:

  • Continuous thirst and frequent urination (stressed kidneys)
  • Increased appetite
  • Mood changes: hyperactivity or depression
  • Diarrhea and digestive disorders (can't be healthy without good digestion!)

The long-term use can cause:

  • Immune system suppression
  • Liver and kidney conditions
  • Pancreas conditions (think pancreatitis and diabetes)
  • Adrenal glands disorders (nothing works right without them)

For more side effects of corticosteroids, check out Prednisone for Dogs.

Personal Experiences with Cortisone

I learned about cortisone side effects the hard way in both myself and my dog. For myself I learned that side effects are not always known. After gardening on my hillside lot in California I had come in contact with a lot of poison oak.

I washed well with cool water afterward and had no problem for a few days. What I didn't realize at the time was my cat who followed me everywhere was covered and had curled up on my gardening clothes I'd left inside out. Having only a little bit left to do the next morning away from the poison oak, I wore those clothes the cat had laid on and broke out all over my body.

Normally I'm pretty tough but I scratched and bled while I spread that lovely poison oak until I could stand it no more.

Miserable, I went to the doctor who promptly gave me a shot of cortisone. It did the trick. It also left me so depressed I was suicidal. Now I am basically a very happy person and I knew those feelings couldn't be coming from me.

I called the doctor's office and told them what I was experiencing. They promptly told me I was being ridiculous because that was NOT a side effect of cortisone. It took three days to want to be among the living again.

Since then I've met others who had the same side effect and I've stayed away from cortisone for many years now.

Funny how twenty years later they include depression as a side effect which makes me wonder what else they might be missing.

Dog On Cortisone

My beautiful Golden Retriever Izzy had a terrible flea allergy. This was before I knew about the effects of commercial dog foods. Just one flea would send her into fits of scratching herself raw and her fur would fall out.

The vet gave her cortisone shots several times and all would be well. I didn't think anything about it.

Then one day the vet told me she could no longer give my dog cortisone. I was confused and asked why. My mouth fell open when she explained the side effects of cortisone and I was hurt that she hadn't told me in the beginning.

She'd had several shots over a two or three year period; aged far faster than she should have and leaked urine constantly. Would I have let her have it if I'd known? If I knew there was an alternative?


If your dog has experienced cortisone side effects, please look around this website to find ways to improve dog health. And find an anti inflammatory without side effects.

Cortisone Side effects to Common Dog Health Problems

› Cortisone

Important Notice

I sell NSP (Nature's Sunshine) herbs and supplements for your dog. While these are strictly tested and made for human consumption, I am the only one in the United States successfully using them for dogs for over a decade now.

To get proper doses for your dog you must purchase through me. I've spent a great deal of time learning the right combinations and doses per weight for your canine kid.