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Any side effects with dex?

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  • Any side effects with dex?

    My horse is currently suffering from heaves/allergies (cough) this summer. After trying a couple different options my vet has suggested putting him on dex for couple weeks to see if that will help get rid of his cough.

    I wanted to see if anyone had any bad or good results with dex treating allergies? I've heard laminitis is one of the serious side effects but not sure how common that is.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Many horses are on daily or semi-regular doses of dex and never experience lamititis (my horse is one and it's never been a problem). I think its the scare the laminitis that make everyone jump on the internet and yell about it, but in a healthy horse (aka one not prone to or at risk for laminitis) then the risk is very very low. Did you discuss this risk with your vet concerning your particular horse?

    Other side effects are more mild and only last for the duration of the drug such as attitude changes (most say it quiets horses but some horses can get nervous or figidy). I also heard diarrehia can occur, but this seems more prevelant with high level doses.

    My horse spends about 5 days out of the month on iv or im dex for allergies manifesting in the respitory and skin(upto 40mg initial dose if severe, which is a "high" dose) and it does nothing but drastically improve his quality of life. He also has mild-moderate arthritis and this has allowed us to go much longer between joint injections... is that a side effect?

    Comment


    • #3
      It depresses the immune system
      Janet

      chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Janet View Post
        It depresses the immune system
        I thought it was only bummed?

        Comment


        • #5
          Why not try prednisolone first to see if that helps?
          ______________________________
          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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          • #6
            Ok. Suppresses
            Janet

            chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

            Comment


            • #7
              You guys are giving me a good laugh! But that is HOW it works on allergies after all.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by JB View Post
                Why not try prednisolone first to see if that helps?
                Why not try dex first? I am very intersted in your reasoning, since you know something I'm missing. On the other hand, they are both steroids. Laminitis risk is similar. During the show season dex is the only thing we use because any other steroid can't be used and showed on in any amount. Plus many steroids stay in the system for a long time (45-90 days)

                To the OP if you are showing and using dex be sure to read up on the use of dex on the usef website because there are two types. One has a much longer half-life so the dosage protocols in the usef drug hand book may cause a positive drug test.

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                • #9
                  Steroids are a WONDERFUL treatment option that can cause major improvement in many conditions. But, they do suppress the immune system, and for some horses, there is a very significant level of risk. I have the misfortune to own a few horses who are extremely sensitive to it, and have dealt with both laminitis and EPM triggered by dex. Doesn't mean I don't use it, but I use it with caution and only when I think the benefits outweigh the risks.

                  My vet did tell me the % risk of steroid-triggered laminitis, and unfortunately I just don't remember what it is. But, essentially, there is a significantly higher risk of laminitis after giving steroids--but there is always *some* risk for laminitis. If it's going to help your horse breathe easier, it may be worth the risk.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    We give dexamethasone periodically when our old guy's heaves don't respond to his clenbuterol/Ventipulmin. I try to give the lowest dose possible for 1-3 days. It is interesting to me that he will often respond to 8 mg once daily, given orally. The medicine vet/specialist we went to said to try the low dose, but that she would expect him to need substantially more when he is bad. Our guy has a history of laminitis once about 4 years ago, so I am particularly reluctant to give steroids.

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                    • #11
                      I am under the impression that the risk of laminitis is greatly reduced with prednisolone over dex.
                      ______________________________
                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks for all the replies. A couple weeks ago my vet gave my horse a steriod shot with little effect. We tried him on a tri-hist which he reacted to and stopped sweating. Not fun. He's is back to normal on the sweating side thankfully, but still left with a cough.

                        My horse does not have a history of laminitis so hopefully trying dex will be worth the risk. Although, different medicines and supplements do seem to once and a while cause personality changes in him.

                        How quickly does dex normally take effect? Should results be seen rather quickly if it does in fact help him? I think our plan was to start with a higher dose and then taper him off.

                        I'm unfamiliar with prednisolone but I will talk to my vet about it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          In my view, NO WAY is it worth the risk. My horse - 9 years old, no history of laminitis, what I thought was basically healthy (he sure was feisty enough) but with severe allergies that he needed help to cope with during allergy season AND I wanted to be able to compete him. The result: SEVERE LAMINITIS, foundered horse, rotation in all 4 feet, sunk through the sole of the RF, required bilateral tenotomies and a year plus of care for basic recovery.

                          Bottom line was that despite appearances he was NOT a healthy horse - his immune system was not strong and the allergies were a symptom of that. But I learned all this the hard way and truly thought I was doing the best for him (at my vet's advice of course).

                          The good news is that thanks to an incredible vet and our believing in the inner strength of this horse, at the end I have a healthy (this time really healthy) horse, I can cope with his allergies without Dex or any steroids, and he is coming back nicely into work with a great attitude and a body that is responding well.

                          Don't take the easy way out just because everyone says the risk is low. It may be a low percentage, but the result can be devastating.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Bottom line was that despite appearances he was NOT a healthy horse - his immune system was not strong and the allergies were a symptom of that.
                            Allergies, by definition, are a sign of an OVERACTIVE immune system. The trick is to suppress the immune system enough to stop the allergies without suppressing it too much, so the horse becomes vulnerable to infection.
                            Janet

                            chief feeder and mucker for Music, Spy, Belle and Tiara. Someone else is now feeding and mucking for Chief and Brain (both foxhunting now).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ridingmel924 View Post

                              How quickly does dex normally take effect? Should results be seen rather quickly if it does in fact help him? I think our plan was to start with a higher dose and then taper him off.
                              I give dex to my pony for heaves. It works (for him) better than ventipulmen or his inhaler. It will help within hours. I give him as low a dose as possible. If he is in any way laminitic (he's somewhat prone to grass laminitis), I don't give dex, but rely on the other drugs instead until his feet are better.

                              Starting with a higher dose then tapering off is standard procedure. After a while, you will get to know how much your horse needs to be effective.
                              My Equestrian Art Photography page

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I second draftdriver--if Dex is going to work, it will work very quickly. If you're not seeing an improvement right away, I wouldn't keep using it, personally.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I used dex one year when all the hay in the neighborhood turned black from daily rain, and a horse's eye's swelled shut from mold allergy. He was way too hot and crazy to be blind. It worked within hours, lasted about 3 days between shots. Made me nervous with all I know about laminitis, but no side effects, and didn't have to do it for more than 2 weeks until the weather dried up.
                                  Are you feeding your horse like a cow? www.safergrass.org

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I know you didn't ask for advice outside the realm of dex usage, so feel free to ignore my post

                                    I have used finish lines "air power" with good success. I actually give it after a ride since the menthol is so strong, I wouldn't want to go for a run after someone poored liquid cough drops down my throat I use 10cc per day, not the 1-2 oz (30-60 cc) that is suggested. I've even maintained on as little as 5cc per day. It doesn't test (according to finish line plus I've called usef about it myself).

                                    Otherwise, find the source of the horses coughing. My horse has to have his hay soaked or steamed (steamed is awesome) and he get the pelleted shavings because they are "dust free". He can go drug free when living on grass at night and being in his stall with paper bedding during the day (gasp) with out hay.

                                    I actually had a vet that diagnosed him as a roarer last winter and said surgery was his only option, yet when summer came around and he went outside, he became 100% normal in his respitory system in 4 weeks! (think he might be allergic to pine shavings, and those have been removed so could be combo of the two changes.)

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Dex and sweet itch

                                      Just started my horse on dex for his severe sweet itch. It's helping, and I'm so glad I did it. First shot was IV, but now he's on oral. Low doses, so I'm not worrying myself about laminitis risk.

                                      If nothing else is working, I'd definitely try it.
                                      "If you can't feed 'em, don't breed 'em."

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by flyracing View Post
                                        but in a healthy horse (aka one not prone to or at risk for laminitis) then the risk is very very low.
                                        My horse - 9 years old, no history of laminitis, what I thought was basically healthy (he sure was feisty enough) but with severe allergies devastating.
                                        By definition, a horse with severe allergies, needing steroids to cope, is not healthy.

                                        Comment

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