November 7, 2018

Steroids—a Dirty Word, Part 2

If you haven’t read Part 1, please click here.

In that article we discussed how the term “steroid” has mistakenly come to mean cortisone and prednisone. We also noted that SARD dogs routinely develop high levels of steroids called sex-hormones. And we corrected some misconceptions about steroids.

Here in Part 2 we’re going to address another misconception.

A Quick History

For decades, prednisone has been typically been prescribed in what’s called an anti-inflammatory or immuno-suppressant dose. These are the large doses that suppress the immune system response.

When a dog develops sudden blindness, it’s been the standard practice to rule out inflammatory activity. Veterinary ophthalmologists prescribe oral prednisone in an anti-inflammatory dose. The dog generally shows no improvement and in fact, may experience MORE hunger, thirst and lethargy than before.

Why? Because not only are these dogs producing high levels of sex-hormone steroids internally, they’ve been prescribed high levels of prednisone, another steroid, on top of that. No wonder these dogs feel worse than when they started!

The Difference is in the Dose

If you’ve read any of my work you know that sex-hormone levels rise when adrenal glands can no longer make sufficient cortisol. And you also know that when these dogs are given (and I cannot emphasize this enough) LOW DOSE, DAILY REPLACEMENT-LEVEL cortisol, it corrects the over-production of those sex-hormones.

A LOW, DAILY REPLACEMENT-LEVEL DOSE of cortisol (prednisone or Medrol) is very different than the large, short-term, anti-inflammatory dose that SARD dogs are typically prescribed at diagnosis. Understanding the difference in these dosages is crucial. An anti-inflammatory dose suppresses the immune system response and may worsen symptoms. A low dose corrects the sex-hormone problem and improves symptoms.

Some Examples

Let’s take the example of a 20-pound dog. Holistic veterinarians would typically give a 20-pound dog about 2mg of prednisone or Medrol as a daily replacement dose. On the other hand, an anti-inflammatory dose can range from 5mg-20mg per day. That’s double, triple, or even 10-fold as much as a daily replacement dose!

Here’s another way to look at it. Do you know someone who takes thyroid hormone? That person takes a tiny dose each day. It’s a lifelong treatment to replace the amount of thyroid hormone a body would normally make. If that person took 10 times what they actually needed, there would be some serious medical consequences.

So, when a SARD-dog owner says to me, “We tried the prednisone treatment and our dog felt even worse,” in all likelihood their dog was given a high, anti-inflammatory dose rather than a LOW, DAILY REPLACEMENT-LEVEL DOSE as described in the SARD protocol.

In Part 3 we will discuss some nuances of low-dose cortisol replacement therapy. I hope this has been helpful. Good luck.