Dog Hair Loss & Prednisone

By Deanna Roddy

Prednisone has various uses in veterinary medicine. It can be used to treat many different diseases, but long-term use of this steroid can prove to have many serious side effects causing problems for a dog, including hair loss.


Prednisone is a corticosteroid that is used in both animals and humans. This steroid is used as an anti-inflammatory and has proven to be very effective, according to Lowchen Australia's Dog Health website.

Prednisone can be used in emergency situations for dogs and cats including use for anaphylactic shock and other forms of shock, as well as spinal cord trauma, anemia, asthma, central nervous system disorders and endocrine disorders.

Side Effects

Prolonged use of prednisone for dogs can cause side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, polyuria, diabetes, elevated liver enzyymes, muscle wasting, behavioral changes, worsening of gastric ulcers, renal disorders and pancreatitis.

Possible severe reactions include hormonal and metabolic changes that can be life-threatening, along with suppressed immune response causing them to be more susceptible to bacterial infections. These more severe side effects are typically associated with long-term use of prednisone; short-term use typically shows no adverse side effects in dogs.

Hair Loss

Use of prednisone can cause Cushing's disease in dogs, which may result in hair loss along with thinning of the skin, bruising easily and lethargy. Cushing's disease can be caused by prolonged use of any corticosteroid, according to Lowchen Australia. A test of the adrenal gland function may be needed to diagnose Cushing's disease, along with a chemistry panel and CBC blood test. A slow decrease in the use of prednisone may be needed to treat this disease.

Other Causes of Hair Loss

There are numerous reasons why a dog may be losing his hair. A short list of these causes include alopecia, bacterial infections, chemotherapy, diabetes, injection reactions, flea allergies, food allergies, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, lice, mange, increased levels of vitamin A and stress.

The most common reasons for hair loss are mites and lice, autoimmune diseases, ringworm, anxiety and boredom.


If your dog is losing his hair, he should be seen by a veterinarian where proper diagnostic testing may be done to diagnose the problem causing the hair loss. Hair loss in dogs can indicate a more serious underlying health problem and a proper diagnosis can assure proper treatment for him.