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If your pet has been suffering from long-term diarrhea, then there’s a chance she may have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which is caused by inflammation in the colon. Other signs can include loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, and depression. Taking her to the veterinarian will get her the treatment she needs so she can start looking and feeling better.
If IBD is the diagnosis, then your pet may be prescribed budesonide, one of the most common medicines used by veterinarians to treat the condition.

What Is Budesonide?

Budesonide is a very strong systemic glucocorticoid, or corticosteroid, that’s used in veterinary medicine to treat cats and dogs that have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. Because of budesonide’s potency (it’s fifteen times stronger than prednisone), it is not always the first drug used to treat IBD. However, it is instead most often prescribed when other steroids have proven to be ineffective. Further, it is often the primary treatment in cases where the pet cannot tolerate steroids.

Why Budesonide Is Prescribed in Veterinary Medicine

Because it is a glucocorticoid, budesonide has anti-inflammatory properties, especially when administered in higher doses. This makes the drug effective in helping manage inflammatory conditions like IBD. It is important to note that budesonide does not cure the inflammatory bowel disease; it only reduces the inflammation that is causing it. Once treatment is stopped, the inflammation will return and with it, the symptoms of IBD.

Other Uses for Budesonide in Veterinary Medicine

Budesonide is also used by veterinarians to treat other inflammatory issues in the body, including sinus inflammation and asthma.

Dosage and Administration of Budesonide

Budesonide is given by mouth and should be administered to the pet exactly as prescribed by your veterinarian. The usual dosing regimen is once a day, however, the dosage and frequency are determined by many factors, including the size and weight of the pet being treated, the severity of the condition, and more.

If you miss a dose of budesonide, then give the next dose as soon as you remember or, if it is close to the next scheduled dose, wait and resume with the next regularly scheduled dose. Do not administer a double dose to catch up on a missed dose. After administering budesonide, wash your hands thoroughly.

Special Precautions for Using Budesonide

Budesonide is only to be administered to the pet that it has been prescribed for. The medication should be kept well out of reach of children and pets.
Budesonide should be used with extreme caution in pets with known liver or kidney disease. This drug should also be used with caution in pets diagnosed with GI ulceration, active infections, diabetes, or cataracts. In cases where a pet taking budesonide is undergoing surgery, additional corticosteroid supplementation may be needed.

Possible Side Effects of Budesonide

Despite the potency of budesonide, the risk of side effects is quite low. The most common side effects, when they develop, tend to include polyuria (increased urination), polydipsia (increased thirst), increased appetite, and changes in hair coat.

Other more serious (although less common) side effects can include weakness, black and tarry stools, muscle loss, blood in the stools, or a “pot belly” appearance. If you notice these signs or the signs of an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Do not discontinue budesonide abruptly, as doing so can cause a pet to experience severe weakness, vomiting, collapse and, in severe cases, sudden death.

Known Drug Interactions With Budesonide

If your pet is taking other medications, supplements, vitamins, or herbal therapies, then you should let the veterinarian know about them before starting treatment with budesonide. This includes notifying your veterinarian of the drug dosages and administration schedules to help avoid the potential risk of a drug interaction.
Some of the drugs known to have interactions with budesonide include erythromycin, cimetidine, ketoconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole, and diltiazem.