Triamcinolone Acetonide for Dogs and Cats

Updated Oct. 6, 2023
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PetMD’s medications content was written and reviewed by veterinary professionals to answer your most common questions about how medications function, their side effects, and what species they are prescribed for. This content shouldn’t take the place of advice by your vet.

What Is Triamcinolone Acetonide?

Triamcinolone is an FDA-approved prescription glucocorticoid (steroid) used to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions in dogs and cats including allergic reaction, inflammation, and swelling.

Triamcinolone is available in multiple formulations. Most commonly, triamcinolone is used in combination with other medications as a topical cream or ointment (brand names Derma-Vet™, Animax® and EnteDerm™) to treat ear infections in dogs and cats, certain skin conditions, and anal gland infections in dogs.

It is also available in a topical spray (brand name GENESIS®) used in dogs for relief of itching associated with allergies. The injectable form of triamcinolone (generic triamcinolone acetonide injectable suspension) is administered in the hospital by your veterinarian. Triamcinolone is intended to be given to your pet for the shortest amount of time at the lowest dose needed to help relieve your pet’s symptoms. Your veterinarian will determine the best course of treatment for your pet.

In certain circumstances, your vet may recommend a compounded oral formulation of triamcinolone. Compounded medications are prescribed if there’s a specific reason your pet’s health can’t be managed by an FDA-approved drug, such as if your pet has trouble taking pills in capsule form, the dosage strength is not commercially available, or the pet is allergic to an ingredient in the FDA-approved medication. Compounded medications are not FDA-approved. They are created by a veterinarian or a licensed pharmacist on an individual basis to best suit a patient’s particular needs. You can learn more about compounded medications here.

Triamcinolone Acetonide Considerations

It is important to note that triamcinolone can weaken the immune system, which may make it difficult for a sick pet to fight infection. Triamcinolone should not be used in pets with certain medical conditions, such as fungal infections, viral infections, stomach ulcer, corneal ulcer, overactive adrenal gland disease, or in pets that are hypersensitive to the medication. Therefore, it is important to discuss your pet’s entire medical history with your veterinarian.

Triamcinolone should be used cautiously in pets with diabetes, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, kidney disease, or blood clotting conditions.  Except for emergency therapy, do not use in animals with tuberculosis, chronic nephritis, Cushing’s syndrome, or peptic ulcers. Giving triamcinolone with certain medications can result in health risks to your pet, so it is important to discuss your pet’s medications and medical conditions with your veterinarian.

How Triamcinolone Acetonide Works

As a corticosteroid, triamcinolone blocks the harmful effects of inflammation when the immune system is inappropriately overreactive in medical conditions such as an allergic reaction or swelling. Triamcinolone is a much stronger steroid than over-the-counter cortisone medication.

Triamcinolone Acetonide Directions

Follow the directions on the drug label or as provided by your veterinarian. The frequency of application will depend on your pet’s medical issue, severity, and location.

Wear gloves while applying triamcinolone, and always wash your hands immediately after use.

If you are using triamcinolone topical spray, do not spray on ulcerated or burned skin. Always use the medication in a well-ventilated area.

Do not allow your pet or other pets to lick the medication until after the area dries for at least 30 minutes after application.

Do not allow triamcinolone to get into your pet’s eyes, mouth, or nose.

If you are applying triamcinolone cream or ointment to your pet’s ear, check with your veterinarian first to ensure your pet’s eardrum is not ruptured. 

Oral triamcinolone is best given with food to lower the risk of digestive upset. Ensure your pet has access to plenty of water.

If your veterinarian recommends that you discontinue a compounded oral form of this medication for your pet for any reason, they will generally wean your pet off slowly, under a veterinarian's supervision, especially if your pet has been taking the medication long-term. Triamcinolone stays in your pet’s bloodstream after your pet stops receiving it, so you may notice its effects continuing for several days after their last dosage. Your veterinarian will determine the best course of treatment for your pet.   

Missed a Dose?

Speak with your veterinarian about what to do if you forget to give a dose of triamcinolone. Generally, they may instruct you to give it when you remember, or if it is almost time for your pet’s next dose, to skip the missed dose and resume your normal dosing schedule. Do not give extra or double doses.

Triamcinolone Acetonide Possible Side Effects

Triamcinolone is generally well tolerated. It is possible for topical steroids to become absorbed and cause systemic or body-wide side effects such as:

  • Increased thirst

  • Increased urination

  • Increased appetite

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

  • Diarrhea

  • Thinning skin

  • Hair loss

  • Hearing loss

  • Decreased muscle mass

  • Pot-bellied appearance

Instilling ear medication when your pet’s eardrum is ruptured can cause serious side effects including sudden hearing loss, ear pain, head tilt, and walking in circles.

Corticosteroids administered orally or by injection to pregnant animals may induce premature birth if used during the last trimester of pregnancy. Additionally, this medication has resulted in birth defects when used in pregnant pets.  Speak with your veterinarian if your pet is breeding or pregnant.

Human Side Effects

Triamcinolone is also a prescription medication for humans, frequently with dosages different from those prescribed for your pet by a veterinarian. Due to possible side effects, pets should not be given any medicine prescribed for humans.

If you have hypersensitivity to glucocorticoids, talk to your veterinarian about using another medication, or ensure that you wear gloves while in contact with this medication.  Wash your hands after application.

In case of accidental skin contact, wash the area thoroughly with water.

Avoid contact with eyes.

If you accidentally ingest a pet medication, call your physician or the national Poison Control Center hotline at 800-222-1222. 

Call Your Vet If:

  • Severe side effects are seen (see above)

  • Your pet’s condition worsens or does not improve with treatment

  • You see or suspect an overdose

  • You have additional questions or concerns about the use of triamcinolone

Triamcinolone Acetonide Overdose Information

An overdose of triamcinolone is unlikely to occur unless your pet ingests the topical medication.

Prolonged use or overdosage may suppress your pet’s immune system, which can cause dangerous side effects if the medication is stopped abruptly.  

If you suspect an overdose, immediately contact your veterinarian, seek emergency veterinary care, or contact an animal poison control center. Consultation fees often apply.

Pet Poison Helpline (855) 764-7661

ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888) 426-4435

Triamcinolone Acetonide Storage

Triamcinolone topical formulas should be stored at controlled room temperatures of 59–86 F. The tablet formulation should be stored at controlled room temperatures of 68–77 F. Keep the container tightly closed to protect its contents from moisture and light. Always confirm storage temperatures by reading the label.

Compounded medications should be stored according to the compounding pharmacy’s label.

Keep out of reach of children and pets.

Triamcinolone Acetonide for Dogs and Cats FAQs

Can you use triamcinolone acetonide cream on your dog?

Triamcinolone cream, with triamcinolone as the sole ingredient, is a prescription medication for humans, frequently with dosages different from those prescribed for your pet by a veterinarian. Due to possible side effects, pets should not be given any medicine prescribed for humans.

Does triamcinolone acetonide treat hot spots on dogs?

Triamcinolone combination topical creams and ointments have a thick and greasy consistency. The medication is not intended for use in treatment of deep abscesses or deep-seated infections. Generally, this medication is not commonly used for treatment of hot spots, or moist dermatitis, which is a skin infection that often requires a combination of antibacterial and anti-inflammatory medications.  

Is triamcinolone safe for dogs?

Triamcinolone can be used safely in dogs in very specific circumstances and under the direct supervision of your veterinarian. It is best to discuss your pet’s medications and medical conditions with your veterinarian before giving triamcinolone, as there may be health risks to your pet if they are hypersensitive to it, if they have certain medical conditions, and if they are taking certain medications. Your veterinarian will determine whether this medication is right for your pet, based on their symptoms and circumstances.

No vet writer or qualified reviewer has received any compensation from the manufacturer of the medication as part of creating this article. All content contained in this article is sourced from public sources or the manufacturer.

Featured Image:

Molly Price, DVM


Molly Price, DVM


Dr. Molly Price has practiced small animal medicine for over 20 years and is a graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine. She...

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