Cortef etc. (hydrocortisone) is an adrenal corticosteroid with mild anti-inflammatory properties.
Hydrocortisone is commonly used to treat inflammatory diseases in dogs and cats. It is used in oral, injectable and topical formulations. 1% hydrocortisone cream is commonly used to treat minor skin irritations.
Hydrocortisone has a short half-life (the amount of time before half of the drug's peak plasma level is eliminated by the body) and is approximately 5 times less powerful than prednisone. Other corticosteroids include: cortisone; prednisolone (a derivative of prednisone that has been chemically changed for easy passage through the liver); and dexamethasone (which is extremely potent and is only used in unusual circumstances). Although steroids can be remarkably fast-acting, life saving drugs, they often cause many unwanted side effects. Some of the more common side effects include acne, development of a round or moon-shaped face, weight gain, high blood pressure, thinning of the bones (osteoporosis), increased risk of diabetes, and an increased risk of infection.