Can Prednisone Cause Dental Problems?

I have a Lab with allergies who has been on 1/2 of a 10 mg. dose of prednisone daily for several years. If she is...


I have a Lab with allergies who has been on 1/2 of a 10 mg. dose of prednisone daily for several years. If she is off the pred. for more than 2 days she will start to scratch, roll & chew.

Very recently we noted that ALL her front teeth both top & bottom are evenly worn almost to her gums. Upper & lower canines are also evenly wearing down.

My concern/question: Is the pred. the cause? I recall reading something to do with bone density loss associated with Prednisone. Would that sound correct? She does not appear to have any discomfort as of yet.

Flagstaff, Arizona

Prednisone (also known affectionately and derogatorily simply as pred) is simultaneously the best and worst medicine ever invented. Prednisone is a steroid that is related to cortisone. It is a powerful treatment for allergies, and some dogs can’t be comfortable without the drug. But prednisone almost always causes side effects when used long term.

The first side effects people notice when their dogs are on chronic prednisone usually are panting, increased thirst, and increased urination. Next, dogs become obsessively hungry. In the long term prednisone can lead to liver damage, thin skin, diabetes, heart problems, and a host of other scary issues.

However, I don’t think that prednisone caused your dog’s teeth to wear down. I think her allergies are responsible.

Some dogs with allergies chew themselves relentlessly. This is one way that dogs scratch. Many of these dogs (especially Labradors, in my experience) wear down the incisors (the front teeth) and the canines (the fangs) in a highly symmetrical fashion, just as you have described. Although I’m not happy that your dog has been on pred for so long, I can honestly say that the prednisone probably has helped slow the progression of your dog’s dental issues by reducing your dog’s itching.

I strongly recommend that you consider non-steroid allergy management. A medicine called Atopica may truly benefit your dog. And don’t forget the basics: is your dog on a hypoallergenic diet and high quality flea control? If you can control the allergies this way, you can reduce your dog’s dependence on pred and spare her any further dental wear.

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