Is Cortisone Safe For Dogs?
Being human is fantastic—we have opposable thumbs, we have microwaves, and we have a plethora of over-the-counter drugs designed to treat our every little illness, injury, and discomfort. Though some of us are more wary of taking drugs than others, most of us have no problem with taking a pill or applying some cream when we find ourselves dealing with allergies and skin problems. One of our most effective anti-itch treatments is Cortizone 10, a widely available itch relief cream that contains hydrocortisone. Cortizone 10 markets itself as the best over-the-counter anti-itch cream available today.
Because it is a topical treatment, we are perhaps a little less afraid of it than we are of oral medications. This increased sense of comfort appeals to parents and pet owners alike—after all, it’s much harder to poison my kid (or my pet!) if I am not making them eat the medication, right? Or is it dangerous to rub Cortizone 10 on my itchy dog? Is cortisone safe to use on your dog?
The answer: technically, dogs can use hydrocortisone creams, but pet parents should not administer this drug without consulting a veterinarian first—this drug has not been approved by the FDA for use in dogs. Some veterinarians will say that Cortizone-10 and other hydrocortisone treatments are safe for dogs to use in the short term, but they will be able to recommend a more canine-friendly alternative. There are anti-itch creams that have been formulated specifically for canines.
If you make the decision to use Cortizone 10 on your poor scratchy pooch, make sure to avoid applying it to any open wounds or oozing sores. It is also important to monitor your dog to make sure that they do not start licking the hydrocortisone cream off their skin. Ingesting small quantities of hydrocortisone creams such as Cortizone 10 can cause upset stomach and vomiting, but larger doses may cause more severe problems. If your dog’s symptoms are limited to a small area, you may want to apply some sort of bandage after you have spread the cream over the affected area. This will prevent your dog from eating it or smearing it all over your carpet.
If you suspect that your dog has developed any sort of infection, or if they have other symptoms like fever and wheezing, skip the anti-itch cream and take them to see the vet.
The biggest reason to avoid giving your dog over-the-counter topical treatments like Cortizone-10 is this: all they do is cover up symptoms. If your dog has developed a skin rash, hot spots, itching, and other symptoms, all hydrocortisone creams are going to do is temporarily make them feel more comfortable. Once the effects of the drug have worn off ,their symptoms will likely return.
If your dog is experiencing an allergic reaction, it is important to take them to the vet to determine if there is anything you can do to limit their exposure to the allergen that is causing their problems. Their allergy may be caused by environmental factors, other medications, or something that they are eating. The best way to relieve allergy symptoms is to remove the allergen! Hydrocortisone cream may be safe, but it can’t treat the underlying condition that is causing your dog’s symptoms.
Things to Consider
If you are considering giving them some prescription-strength cortisone, however, keep it as far away from your dog as possible. Cortisone, which is a steroid, is an extremely effective steroid that tends to knock out our itch symptoms in a snap, but its effectiveness does not come without a cost: this potent drug has a lot of dangerous side effects. This drug should only be used following the guidance of a veterinarian who has examined your dog for the source of their discomfort—and it should not be used long term.
If your dog has ingested hydrocortisone or cortisone (cream or tablets) accidentally, take them to the vet or contact a poison control center as soon as possible. Though some dogs can handle cortisone in small doses, there are reports of others dying after taking this drug. If your dog’s symptoms are serious enough to require a steroid, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe a more canine-friendly dog than cortisone.
If your dog has taken hydrocortisone, cortisone, or any other drug, and their symptoms worsen or do not improve, it is crucial to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Every time we attempt to treat our dogs’ ailments at home using medications that are formulated for humans, we run the risk of giving them a poisonous drug or administering an incorrect dosage. For this reason, both cortisone and hydrocortisone creams like Cortizone-10 are best avoided. When your dog develops symptoms that are severe enough to get your attention, it is almost always time to take them to the vet.