Adrenocortical steroids (corticosteroids) include hormones produced by the adrenal glands and synthetic drugs similar to these natural substances. This group of drugs has a wide range of actions on the body, among them effects on fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism, water balance, salt balance, and cardiovascular, immune system, and kidney function. They are very important in the individual’s ability to resist certain environmental changes and noxious stimuli.
Steroid drugs are commonly used in veterinary medicine for their antiinflammatory effects (for example, to give relief from itching due to allergies or other skin diseases). Because of the remarkable response sometimes possible following administration, some pet owners and some veterinarians are inclined to misuse these drugs. Keep in mind that steroid drugs are only palliative, relieving but not curing disease, unless the condition is caused by deficiency of adrenal gland function.
Also, keep in mind that steroids are not without side effects. Although they are safe, even lifesaving when used properly, misused they constitute a threat to your cat’s health. Avoid preparations containing steroids sold in pet stores and rely on the advice of a good veterinarian regarding the use of steroids in maintaining the health of your cat. Some names of common steroid drugs are prednisone, prednisolone, cortisone, hydrocortisone, triamcinolone, betamethasone, flumethasone, and dexamethasone. Some have less wideranging effects than others.