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Health & Wellness

The side effects of pet antibiotics and steroids

They're common medications for cats and dogs

Your pet may not be able to tell us exactly how they're feeling, but observant pet parents may notice changes in their behavior from new medication. In fact, two of the most commonly prescribed medicines for cats and dogs — antibiotics and steroids — both come with sometimes irritating side effects. Fetch teamed up with Fetch's on-staff veterinarian and pet health advocate Dr. Aliya McCullough to share what pet parents need to know about these common medications and their side effects. 

Side effects of antibiotics in pets

Even the healthiest dog or cat has likely been on antibiotics once or twice. Antibiotics treat bacterial infections in the skin, respiratory tract, urinary tract, blood and more.

The most common side effects are: 

  • Vomiting: which can be prevented by giving the medication with food.
  • Diarrhea: you should give your pet probiotics or feed them yogurt to normalize good bacteria.

However, each antibiotic produces different side effects. Before leaving the vet's office, ask your vet about potential side effects. That way, you'll know what to look out for in case an adverse reaction occurs.

Side effects of steroids in pets

Steroids are another common medication for veterinary patients. Most often, vets turn to steroids for their anti-inflammatory properties. Steroids can be used to bring down swelling or treat acute or chronic pain, and they work wonders on itchy dogs and cats. These medications can also be used to suppress the immune system, easing the symptoms of allergies and autoimmune related illnesses.

The effect steroids have on your pet depends on the size of the dose. A low dose of a steroid could help an itchy dog, but a much higher dose will probably be needed in a pet with an autoimmune condition. The dosage will also affect the level of side effects you see in your pet.

Side effects of steroids include: 

  • Increased appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • More frequent bathroom trips

It's important to monitor the side effects of any new medication to make sure it's not doing more harm than good. Always talk to your vet about potential side effects from medications before you go home, and keep a close eye on your pet, especially when you’re administering a new medication.

The Dig, Fetch's expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too.

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