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Systemic glucocorticoid usage in dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK: prevalence and risk factors
  1. Doaa A Elkholly1,
  2. Dan O’Neill2,
  3. Andrea K Wright3,
  4. Kennedy Mwacalimba4,
  5. Laura S Nolan5,
  6. Amy Pavlock5,
  7. Ludovic Pelligand6,
  8. David Church7 and
  9. David C Brodbelt2
  1. 1 Pathobiology and Population Science, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK
  2. 2 Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK
  3. 3 Zoetis, Dublin, Ireland
  4. 4 Zoetis, Parsippany, New Jersey, USA
  5. 5 Zoetis, Tadworth, UK
  6. 6 Department of Pharmacology, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield, UK
  7. 7 Royal Veterinary College, London, UK
  1. E-mail for correspondence; dbrodbelt{at}


Glucocorticoids are widely used in primary care veterinary practices. The study aimed to quantify the usage of systemic glucocorticoids (SGC) in dogs in the UK using primary care treatment records recorded during 2013 in the VetCompass Programme. From a study population of 455 557 dogs, 28 472 dogs (6.2 per cent, 95 per cent CI 6.2 to 6.3) received a total of 50 971 SGC therapy events in 2013. Prednisolone represented the most frequently used oral preparation (27 362 events, 90.0 per cent of oral events). Dexamethasone sodium phosphate was the most commonly used injectable agent (12 796 events, 62.7 per cent of injectable events). The most common breed treated was Staffordshire Bull Terriers (2236/28 472 dogs, 7.9 per cent, 95 per cent CI 7.5 to 8.2) and within-breed prevalence of SGC usage was 2236/32 635, 6.9 per cent, 95 per cent CI 6.6 to 7.1. The most commonly treated age group was dogs older than eight years (8931/28472, 31.4 per cent) and the most commonly treated bodyweight group was 10.01–20.0 kg (7918/28 472, 27.8 per cent). Dexamethasone and prednisolone were the most commonly prescribed SGC. Short-acting and intermediate-acting injectable SGC were more commonly used compared with long-acting injectable SGC. Older and medium size dogs were most likely to receive SGC and certain breeds appeared predisposed. These data can provide a useful benchmark for glucocorticoid usage and highlight the benefits from ‘Big Data’ analyses.

  • systemic glucocorticoid
  • dogs
  • prevalence
  • risk factors
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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained from the RVC Ethics and Welfare Committee (URN 2015 1369).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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