Steroid alternatives for dogs

dog image by Michal Tudek from

Steroids fall into two categories: anabolic and anti-inflammatory. Anti-inflammatory steroids are the most common type of steroid given to dogs for conditions such as inflammation from arthritis, allergies, and immune-mediated diseases.

Long-term use of steroids in dogs can lead to an overproduction of cortisol causing a condition known as Cushing's disease. It is possible to alleviate your dog's symptoms without the use of steroids by taking a more natural route.

Liquorice Root

Liquorice root contains glycyrrhizin, which is a compound much like a corticosteroid. Glycyrrhizin works by stimulating the adrenal glands, causing them to produce natural corticosteroids, creating anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting effects on a dog's body. Liquorice root alleviates itching and inflammation without seriously compromising a dog's autoimmune system. Feeding your dog the herb as a tincture is the best form of administration. You can find liquorice root in plant form at most nurseries or in tincture form art health food stores.

Apis Mellifica

Apis Mellifica or Apis, is made from the honeybee and offers relief from conditions such as allergic reactions and insect bites. Any condition with symptoms like swelling, burning, and itching, Apis works well in place of a steroid. Dosage is three pellets every 5 minutes; up to three doses, to alleviate the allergic reaction your dog is having. Pellets are available at most health food stores.


Canine arthritis is caused by the deterioration of cartilage and is a painful condition. Glucosamine can stall the progression of canine arthritis and is a beneficial steroid alternative. Veterinarians often prescribe steroids to reduce inflammation in the joints. However, glucosamine brings down inflammation and reduces pain in dogs with arthritis, while repairing and rebuilding cartilage. This safe alternative can be used long term with no known complications. Glucosamine is available in pill form or as a natural supplement, such as bone marrow powder. The general rule for dosing is 250 mg per 4.54 Kilogram of your dog's weight. Glucosamine is available at health food stores or at your veterinarian. With this treatment, speak with a veterinarian to determine the proper dosage as the weight of your dog and extent of his condition are determining factors.