Dangers of PEG stomach tubes for dogs receiving corticosteroid treatment

veterinary-85925_960_720The use of corticosteroids in veterinary care is quite commonplace.  They are prescribed for everything from allergies to Addison’s disease.  As with most drugs, these usually come with a warning to use caution — more on that here  — but now, new research from the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine is linking Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy(PEG) –in layman’s terms, a stomach feeding tube– use during corticosteroid treatment with an increase in the occurrence of “major severity complications”

The study consisted of 42 total animals whose complete medical records indicated that the patients PEG tube was in use for at least a day.  If the animal was not treated using corticosteroids but did receive a PEG tube, he/she was placed in the control group.  The experimental or steroid group consisted of the individuals that received a PEG tube while being treated with corticosteroids.

PEG tube (courtesy of http://www.vetsurgerycentral.com/PEG.htm)
PEG tube (courtesy of http://www.vetsurgerycentral.com/PEG.htm)

The complications experienced by either group were divided into categories ranging from minor to major in severity.  The researchers then compared the complication frequency between the two groups.

Both groups showed a similar prevalence of complications, but the steroid group showed a 25% increase in those that were classified as major.  18% of the control group experienced major complications with the treatment compared to 43% of the steroid group.

The study concludes that veterinarians that plan to use stomach feeding tubes as a part of a treatment plan that includes corticosteroids should “[counsel] the owners of dogs and cats about the possible complications beyond those associated with PEG tube usage alone”

This study also provides dog and cat owners with critical  knowledge that they can bring to their vet when this course of treatment is being discussed.