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Dexamethasone Use
FeistyPhyl posted:
My cat is 17 years old and just over a year ago was diagnosed with kidney disease. At her yearly check-up this year she had lost a little more weight but otherwise was doing well on her Enalapril. Two weeks ago I took her to the vet for another reason and at that time she had lost more weight and was beginning to get very bony. The vet suggested I put her on Dexamethasone (0.50mg/1/2 tablet ea. morning) to aid in increasing her appetite and to make her drink more. This was a 10-dy plan. I refilled the prescription but I'm not sure I want to keep her on this medication because of the side effects I have read about and I am seeking a second opinion. My main concern for my cat, whom I love dearly, is to give her a good quality of life but not to extend her life using medications that could possibly affect her health is some other way. I would appreciate your comments as to whether or not you feel keeping her on the Dexamethasone would be detrimental or good for her. If it is not good what might you suggest I do to make sure my cat's weight is kept up a little. Thank you in advance for your comments.
Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP responded:
Dexamethasone is a potent anti-inflammatory that is usually used for short periods of time. Although it can increase appetite, that's not typically what it's used for especially as there are several more effective drugs for this. It can also increase thirst by causing dehydration, which is not especially desirable in a cat with kidney disease. It's possible your veterinarian is using it for other reasons, so I would ask him. It can be difficult to maintain body weight in cats with advanced kidney disease. The best way is to use prescription diets specifically formulated for this disease (if she'll eat them) as they're significantly higher in calories.

Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP
Board Certified in Feline Practice
The Cat Doctor, Atlanta, GA
FeistyPhyl replied to Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP's response:
Dr. Weigner - thank you for your response. Unfortunately Celine will not eat the prescription canned food specifically made for cats with kidney disease - tried several of those a while back. She is currently on the dry k/d food supplemented with regular canned food.

After speaking to several friends and family members about the dexamethasone, I am really not comfortable using it. And, your comments have confirmed this feeling even more. I will get back to Celine's veterinarian and ask some more questions and see what he suggests.

Thank you very much - Celine's health is a big concern of mine at the moment. Happy holidays!


Sandy Willis, DVM, DACVIM, is a small animal internal medicine consultant for Phoenix Central Laboratory, an independent veterinary diagnostic laborat...More

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