Dexamethasone Side Effects - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 14 Old 12-27-2012, 04:14 PM Thread Starter
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Dexamethasone Side Effects

Hello -

My 12 year old mare has been diagnosed with dorsal displacement of the soft palate and even more recently pharyngitis. The vet put her on 1 week of 5 CCs or oral dexamethsone and then drop it to 3 CCs every other day. He did mention that a side effect of dex is laminitis - but very rarely.

Last week my mare came up lame in both front. Vet came out and flex tested her and took x-rays. He did say that the coffin bone area was a bit puffy. The corrective action that we put us on was to shorten her toes and raise her heel and make the angel more inline with the angle of her pastern (front). And above all, no relation to the dex.

Just before the vet and my farrier came out - another farrier briefly looked at her and said that her heels were low and the toes were too long.

Has anyone had experiences with Dex and lameness? Or other side effects?

Thank you!
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post #2 of 14 Old 12-27-2012, 06:05 PM
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I use it sparingly because of the side effects. It can cause abortions in mares, it suppresses the immune system and can cause any light laminitis or founder to become a deadly 'sinker'.

Therefore, I usually find a different anti-inflammatory unless I am dealing with a critical systemic over-reaction I am trying to stop (like brain or spinal swelling, severe allergic or anaphylactic reaction) or I mix it with DMSO for topical application.

It may be a perfectly good use of it, but I am scared of the stuff as I have seen things go really bad with it. I would ask if there was a different drug or regimen that would work or would like to try something else first.

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post #3 of 14 Old 12-27-2012, 10:45 PM
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Dex has it's place, and we keep it on hand, but use it very sparingly. DO NOT EVER administer Dexamethasone if horse has a fever. The side effects are horrid.

For horses, I've used dex topically mixed w/dmso as a paint, or with furacin as a sweat. I rarely use it, though. We seem to deal with more cuts, than lameness problems.

Dex has saved my border collie's life, though. She's been rattlesnake bit 3 times (face, throat & leg)
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post #4 of 14 Old 12-27-2012, 11:27 PM
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I have used Dex several times for skin reactions.Works great for that. I have always given the individual dose packets sprinkled in their feed 1x day.Also only have administered it for a few days{usual only 3-4},think longest ever was a 5 days.My first time having it prescribed Vet told me about potential laminitis risk,he is more cautious in prescribing to youngsters says they are more at risk??
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post #5 of 14 Old 12-27-2012, 11:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you all for responding!

Cherie - I am looking to breed her in the early spring. I'm assuming that using Dex while the mare is pregnant will possibly abort the baby, but not previous to the breeding?
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post #6 of 14 Old 12-28-2012, 09:46 AM
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It can be of great benefit but it's always short term usage. Like any steroid used long term it depletes calcium, weakening the bones. Steroids need to be tapered off, not suddenly stopped. If a farrier or trimmer took too much off her heels she will be sore.
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post #7 of 14 Old 12-28-2012, 10:41 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you!
Probably should have listed her dosage. Started on 12/14 on 5 ccs of the liquid injectable (but given on her grain) for 5 days. Then 3 ccs every other day until jan 4.
That to me does not seem like a lot- but could be wrong?
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post #8 of 14 Old 12-28-2012, 11:04 AM
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Henny's on some dex right now for his brain swelling. He started at 7 CCs a day for a week when I brought him home, then was dropped to 3 1/2 CCs every day for almost 2 weeks, and we're now at 3 1/2 CCs every other day. I'm not sure how much longer he'll be on it, but I haven't noticed any lameness or anything. Never taken a wrong step and I've been checking his feet every day.

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there in the midst of sacred pollen hidden, all hidden he; how joyous his neigh
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post #9 of 14 Old 12-29-2012, 06:08 AM
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I am a little bit concerned that Dexamethasone seems to be freely available in the USA. In the UK it is only available on prescription from a vet.
Corticosteroids occur naturally and help humans and animals to remain healthy and well. Increasing the amount of corticosteroid is a way of treating a number of different conditions which cause inflammation .
It is used to reduce inflammation and to treat a number of different diseases of the immune system.
Benefits of being on this drug can include relief from pain, inflammation and swelling.
But if it is not used properly and indiscriminately, it can cause some horrendous side effects which in worst case scenario, could be fatal (in humans as well as animals). When I was trained, it was drummed into me that any use of steroids needs monitoring and they can't just suddenly be stopped either.Do tell me if things are different outside ofthe UK? I am not criticising but I am just a little taken aback that you seem to be able to just buy steroids as required and treat horses with them if you think they need them.
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post #10 of 14 Old 12-29-2012, 08:05 AM
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They are only available on Vet prescription here and are not handed out readily. My Vet lets us keep many prescription items here because we have worked with him for many years. I always call him and check with him before I use any restricted medication.

I think all of the uses described here are under Vet direction. This country is so large that Vets do not want (or have the time) to go out to ranches and give every shot or give daily medications. I used to live 75 miles from my Vet and he was the closest Vet that did any equine work. They prescribe prescription meds and leave enough with the owner to give them -- hopefully with sufficient instructions to watch carefully for side-effects.

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