Dogs are commonly affected by allergies, but they experience itchy, inflamed skin instead of sneezing and watery eyes. Allergies can cause excessive scratching, chewing, and licking. Affected dogs may traumatize their skin, which predisposes them to secondary infections. Apoquel stops allergic itchiness to provide fast, effective relief for dogs affected by atopy and other allergic conditions. 

Apoquel’s Mode of Action

Unlike most medications prescribed for allergic dogs, Apoquel is not a steroid or an antihistamine. Apoquel is the brand name of oclacitinib, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug made by Zoetis. The drug inhibits Janus Kinase (JAK) 1 and 3 signaling. JAK are enzymes that typically are activated by proteins called cytokines. Once activated, JAK signals the body’s cells to promote essential body functions, including immunity, blood cell and platelet production, inflammation, and pruritus (i.e., itchiness). Apoquel selectively inhibits the cytokines responsible for inflammation and pruritus while having minimal effects on the immune system and blood cell production. Apoquel tends to have fewer side effects than immunosuppressive drugs such as steroids and cyclosporine, and dogs can get relief in as little as four to 24 hours.

apoquel bottle

Apoquel Dosing

Apoquel is available as oral tablets in three strengths: 3.6 mgs, 5.6 mgs, and 16 mgs, which makes accurate dosing for dogs of all sizes easy. Apoquel can be used for long-term relief at maintenance doses or seasonally to control allergy flare-ups.  Dogs may stop taking Apoquel without tapering. Dogs taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), antibiotics, and allergen-specific immunotherapy can take Apoquel safely. However, the drug has not been evaluated in combination with systemic immunosuppressants such as steroids and cyclosporine.

Apoquel Side Effects

All medications have potential side effects. The most common side effects reported in dogs taking Apoquel were vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, and decreased blood cell counts.  Administering the medication with food can help alleviate gastrointestinal problems. Your veterinarian also likely will recommend routine blood tests to monitor the drug’s effect on your dog’s blood cell production and organ function. 

Apoquel Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Apoquel is FDA-approved as a safe and effective drug to treat dog allergies.
  • Most dogs experience relief from itchiness in four to 24 hours.
  • Apoquel can be administered safely for long-term allergy relief.
  • Apoquel can be used safely with antibiotics, NSAIDs, and allergen-specific immunotherapy.

 

Cons

  • Possible side effects include gastrointestinal issues and decreased blood cell counts.
  • Your dog will need routine blood work to monitor blood cell production and organ function.
  • A prescription is required to obtain Apoquel.

 

Apoquel Rave Reviews

Apoquel receives 4.7 out of 5 stars and 97% of dog owners on Chewy reported they would recommend the medication to a friend. Reviews include:

  • “My corgi suffers from allergies, and it seemed like no matter what we did, he would still scratch his eyes and ears until they bled. We felt so defeated, but then we found Apoquel. It was the only thing that helped Leeroy get back to his normal, healthy self. He’s been taking it for about a year, and he doesn’t go for his eyes or ears anymore.”
  • “Working well for my Chihuahua. She is much more comfortable! Highly recommend a trial if you have a pup who suffers from allergies.”

 

If you have an itchy pup, contact your veterinarian to find out if Apoquel can alleviate their distress.

Information as of 6/30/22