Effects of Anti-inflammatory Glucocorticoids on Glucose Homeostasis and Fluid Balance in Clinically Healthy Cats

Area of Study: 

Purpose of Study: 

Glucocorticoids (steroids) have a wide variety of uses in veterinary medicine, including the treatment of allergic dermatitis. However, the use of steroids in patients with heart disease is limited by concern for precipitating congestive heart failure. In cats, injection of long-acting steroids can cause a transient increase in blood glucose which increases intravascular fluid volume, and which may lead to volume overload and congestive heart failure in susceptible patients. However, we don’t know whether the same changes would occur in cats receiving oral steroids at lower doses. The purpose of this study is to determine whether an anti-inflammatory oral dose of intermediate-acting glucocorticoid (prednisolone) will cause changes in blood glucose metabolism or body fluid balance in healthy cats.

This study is supported by a grant from the Winn Feline Foundation.


This study will take place over summer 2017 (first visits beginning in April-May 2017). 

Cats with itchy skin (pruritus; presumed allergic skin disease) who are otherwise healthy are eligible for participation.  After cats with skin disease have been enrolled, we will also be looking for a control population of age- and sex-matched healthy cats without skin disease.

Client Responsibilities: 

If you agree to have your cat participate in this study, the participation will last for 5 visits to the hospital over 5 weeks (day 0, 3, 7, 14, and 35).

During the study, you may expect the following procedures to be used: physical examination and dermatologic examination; venipuncture and blood sample collection; urine collection; and echocardiography (heart ultrasound). Your cat will be gently restrained (standing, sitting, or lying down) for all procedures.

Cats with itchy skin will receive a short course (14 days with taper) of oral prednisolone, as well as any other treatments indicated for their allergic dermatitis. Control cats will receive no treatment.

Client Benefits: 

Participating cats will receive all examinations, diagnostic tests (blood and urine testing, echocardiography), and prednisolone free of charge. Owners of cats with skin disease will pay an initial dermatologic examination fee and for any medications for allergic dermatitis other than prednisolone (antibiotics, antifungals, topical medications). For control cats, all costs will be covered by the study. 


Dr. Jessica Ward