Anabolic steroids increase the production of red blood cells, which increases the amount of circulating oxygen and promotes tissue growth. Testosterone, made by the testes, is a naturally-occurring anabolic steroid. Synthetic anabolic steroids are similar to testosterone, but they don’t have as many masculinizing effects. Anabolic steroids are used to treat chronic, non-regenerative anemia in pets. They also are used to increase muscle mass, improve body weight and condition in older dogs and restore weight and body condition in animals after surgery or debilitating disease.
Other side effects which your vet will be on the lookout for include the increased risk of infection (due to suppression of the immune system), stomach ulcers, blood clots and diabetes (particularly in cats). In some dogs and cats, determining the appropriate dosage of steroids can be challenging, and it can be difficult to ensure that the right amount of medication is given to control the disease without having significant side effects. Sometimes we need to use other drugs to compliment the use of steroids, allowing us to reduce the steroid dose whilst still controlling the disease.