Prednisone and Panting

    • Gold Top Dog

    Prednisone and Panting

    My old RR mix Gracie  (we think 17) was recently prescribed prednisone (20 mg) for arthritis. We started Tuesday so should start tapering tomorrow. Yesterday afternoon, I notoced she was panting. It has gotten worse over the night, although coming out to living room to be with her has gotten her to fall asleep.

    It seems panting is a common side effect, but not sure when or if I should call the vet. Tomorrow is a Sunday so her vet is closed so would have to see emergency vet Confused. It seems stopping the med suddenly is also a bad idea, so I am leaning to only giving her one dose tomorrow night then calling vet Monday.

    It is helping her arthritis--yesterday she backed up for the first time in a few years. Someone will be home with her til Thusday, so we can watch her. I can handle sleeping on the armchair to be with her at night--she prefers not to sleep in the bedroom lately.Increased need for water/peeing is also manageable.

    Anything I can give her to help with the panting--benedryl maybe? I know prednisone is a strong med and I don't want drug interactions. Thanks for your help.



    • Gold Top Dog

    I know of nothing you can do.  Callie likely would.

    You are describing the way my heart dog, Rusty, the incredible cocker spaniel used to act.  And, with a heart murmer it really scared the tar out of me, but Rusty frequently injured his neck  and, what do you do?  This is pretty classic prednisone behavior, so keep a close eye on her and certainly, if you are really alarmed call the vet.  But, I personally wouldn't give her anything else.

    • Gold Top Dog

    It is a side effect.  My cairn has a disc problem in his neck and has needed prednisone twice in the past.  The panting is not an easy thing to watch, I know, I worried too, but he did alright.  It is harder for the dog to sleep with the panting.  I stayed near my dog too so I could watch him and take him out more frequently to potty.  Hopefully your dog will not need to use it for a long time.  I agree that Callie would know more about what to tell you. 

    • Gold Top Dog

    Willow's been on high doses of Prednisone all summer so I can tell you for sure the panting is a side effect just like the extra eating, drinking and peeing. 

    I have found that keeping the house really cool helps a lot.  I've been keeping the air conditioners on even when I would normally have them off.  And, being outside when the sun goes down helps her too.  If  you give anything else, ask the vet first but I think you will still see the heavy breathing even on Benedryl or anything else.  They gave Willow Tramadol for pain and I still see it with that which is a strong narcotic like drug.

    I want to tell you to give her the prescribed dose, do not taper it yourself.  It's very dangerous to do on your own--the effects you would see from Prednisone withdrawal are worse than what you are seeing now.  And, her symptoms that she was taking it for could come back worse. 

    I'm not trying to scare you but this isn't a drug that you want to make your own decisions with. 

    Callie recommended milk thistle to me and it's helped Willow already, I can see she's feeling better.  It helps the liver get rid of the toxins and if Willow can tolerate it well I'm sure most dogs can. 

    • Gold Top Dog

    Sorry folks -- haven't been around much this weekend.

    Yes -- it's a side effect because pred messes with how the body retains fluid and how it does and does *not* get rid of that fluid.  They tend to be thirsty ALL THE TIME -- make sure and certain you do not restrict the ability of the dog to get water ***at all times***.  It is so critical.

    Yes, they drink more, then may pee more, and may appear incontinent (pred also messes with muscle tissue and can interfere with the brain's ability to successfully say "hold it a while longer" or "Ok - I'm outside now and I CAN pee ... er ... why CAN'T I?   ack ... I can't GO!!!" then they walk back inside and it suddenly releases.

     I've taken pred enough myself and that's a common side effect with ME.

    Pred would *not* be my choice of any sort of arthritis treatment.  It actually exacerbates arthritis longer term because it can and will mess with any of the remaining cartilage and make IT more fragile and cause it to deteriorate more rapidly.

    Agnes -- I've got a whole list of stuff I can send you that will help with arthritis without side effects -- and many of them can help you keep the need for pharmaceuticals at a minimum. 

    This isn't a snide question -- I'm completely serious.  Do you have arthritis yourself?  Have you got any personal experience with a human who has had arthritis?

    Learning to help manage a dog's arthritis when you are unfamiliar with the disease yourself is harder than it is if you understand it from personal experience. 

    Arthritis is essentially inflammation (which is why they've prescribed pred -- which is a steroidal anti-inflammatory).  NSAIDs like Rimadyl, Deramaxx, etc are "Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories". 

    ANY anti-inflammatory (that includes herbal ones as well) can have a bad side effect if you go too far with it.

    However, successful **management** of arthritis deals with preventing the inflammation from happening ... *BEFORE* it happens, in other words.  Often you have to do a small amount of some sort of nsaid on an on-going basis -- BUT if you combine it with a relaxant (to take the stress off arthritic joints so the little bit of nsaid can do MORE with less interference) and mostly if you avoid the activity that worsened the arthritis to begin with you *manage* it better.

    See, it isn't walking or activity that actually makes arthritis.  It's going TOO far.  Dogs don't have an understanding of that -- they're stoic so they will do a thing until they absolutely can not go ANY further.  Then it looks like walking, running, or whatever caused the problem -- it wasn't.  It was going **too far** that caused it. 

    With arthritis, you have to stop*short* of pain.  You go to that first bit of pain and stop and rest.  Relax the joint.  THEN you go further.  It may take you longer to get there, but you won't be in agony when you do! 

    So dog guardians have to make them take it slowly.  You don't go for a half hour walk.  (even if you used to walk five miles).  You walk to the end of the block - and stop.  Wait a few minutes.    Walk further.  But all along the way you stop to touch them on the neck -- tension will usually be felt there if there is pain they are trying not to show!!  If you can't tell -- err on the side of caution and stop VERY frequently.  Often you can go a long way IF IF IF you stop very frequently and rest those joints. 

    Don't ask a dog to 'sit' repeatedly.   It usually exacerbates arthritis.  Instead go for a 'down' (as in lie down) -- it's more of a fully restful position and is less hard on the hips and back.  You can even play ball and do 'fun' things if you throw the ball once or maybe 2 times and then STOP, lie down and chill for a few minutes.  Then throw it once more.   Then STOP again.  But you can't go until the dog looks tired, or limps or shows pain. 

    IF they show pain you've gone way way too far -- you've gone to "inflammation".  SERIOUS inflammation.  Even if you stop when you first *see* pain you've let the dog go way way way way too far.  Because they *are* so stoic.

    Touch the scruff of your dog's neck when at rest.  When they aren't in pain (sleep is good).  See how loose it is.  Touch it at the beginning of a walk (not just when you leash them -- they'll be excited then).  By becomming familiar with that tension you'll better be able to gauge stress.

    You truly want to STOP immediately when you feel any tension or stress there -- I often tell people with arthritic dogs that a wagon can be your best friend.  Let the dog lie IN the wagon while you are in the yard (keep something in there so it's not hot/cold or uncomfortable).  Teach the dog (treats work well here) to "stay" in the wagon so you can pull them.  So they learn to 'ride' (lying down "riding";)

    So you drag the wagon on walks.  Walk a block -- let them ride a block.   Walk another block.  Ride a block.  But that way there is no over-doing -- and YOU can walk as long as you want.  You get air, you get a change of scenery -- the dog gets exercise but not too much. 

    Most arthritic dogs take to a wagon like a duck to water -- even if you have other dogs with you -- if you handle the training well, it will be as "cool" to be IN the wagon as out of it.  No 'standing' in the wagon -- you lie down.

    Now -- watch it -- a severely arthritic animal may have a tough time with up and down ... so be sensitive to that as well.  But the point of the wagon is that you enable them to 'go with' -- they aren't left behind and out of the fun stuff, but they don't 'hurt' either.

    Add to this stuff like pet massage (which is such an incredible incredible tool for the arthritic dog -- and a professional dog massage is worth it's weight in gold if you are in an area where you can find someone -- OR DO IT YOURSELF).  Acupuncture is such an awesome tool to keep down the pain of arthritis.

    It was a vet who taught **ME** about the benefit of acupuncture (Dr. Roger Clemmons at the University of Florida) -- we had dinner with him one night and he noticed *my* arthritis and discovered it was  mutual "problem" - from there I learned how beneficial it was for ME and later used it on arthritic pets.

    But I can tell you it doesn't hurt and man, the relief is awesome. the big deal is finding a *GOOD* acupuncturist. is the Chi Institute and there is a locator on the left. 

    Again -- it will help.  Agnes -- I'm glad to send you that list if you want it.  It's far more than what I've written here.

    Bottom line -- the dog may avoid water because they're smart enough to know it makes them have to pee -- but without the water they pant.  Because ... they're hot and  thirsty.

    But ou have to stay concerned because it's hard for we laypeople to tell the difference between a "pant" because of heat or thirst and a pant that results from a heart cough.  Big deal -- big difference -- hard to tell sometimes.  So yes, you do have to watch them carefully.

    • Gold Top Dog

    Bottom line -- the dog may avoid water because they're smart enough to know it makes them have to pee -- but without the water they pant.  Because ... they're hot and  thirsty.

    I thought they are panting because the medication is causing it not necessarily because they are thirsty or hot??  I'm wrong?

    • Gold Top Dog

    Thanks, Callie. A lot of good advice there. No, I don't have personal knowledge of arthritis, It has been tough seeing Gracie slow down over the years. Even though my understanding is that moderate gentle exercise is good for arthritis, I think like you said, Gracie would be stoic and push herself too far.  

    I will PM you (now that I know what that is!) and have you e-mail me more information. Gracie is doing okay right now. I do wonder if her panting is because she isn't getting enough to drink. There is plenty of water but maybe she is afraid of being incontinent.  She is a very dignified soul. And I am keeping the house cool.

    I know prednisone is not a good long term med.  What I wanted was something to help her feel better, hopefully fairly quickly. She is old, I have known that for a long while. I wanted her to be comfortable. That is why it is hard for me to see her pacing and panting. I will look over your list and your link to accupuncturists.