Considering Apoquel For Your Dog? Read This First!

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Providing Apoquel to an always itchy dog makes sense (now that supply issues have finally been resolved)!

Can I Give My Dog Apoquel?This FDA-approved medication was developed specifically for dogs and reviews are largely positive.

Your vet may recommend Apoquel for excessive itchiness (the type linked to allergies).

But learn much more, both pros and cons, before securing a prescription.

Apoquel Normally Works Well For Dogs

It is generally considered a better option than Prednisone.

But while prescription Apoquel can treat your dog’s itchy skin and allergy-related inflammation problems, it’s usually worth trying something milder.

For example, a quality canine shampoo is worth a shot.

FYI: The medical term for itchiness is pruritus (common in dogs). It is estimated that 10% of four-legged friends suffer from atopic dermatitis.

Be Familiar With Apoquel’s Basics

Apoquel (administered orally) is fast-acting. It will reduce your dog’s strong urges to scratch.

But here’s the deal:

AKA Oclacitinib, it cannot actually cure allergies. Apoquel only treats symptoms.

With that being said, tablets are usually given twice daily, for a couple of weeks, before a reduction to once a day.

Your vet will instruct you on correct dosing as well as how to most effectively use Apoquel.

Basic Precautions And Bad Reactions

One of the biggest benefits of Apoquel is that it works concomitantly. This means it safely interacts with other treatments.

But dogs under 1 year of age should never be given this drug. The same goes for breeding, pregnant or lactating canines.

It could also be problematic for dogs with serious infections.

While your dog is on Apoquel you should monitor them for:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

These problems typically resolve themselves. They do, however, need to be watched in case they worsen.

One Alternative And K9 Cancer Risk?

Though Apoquel does not come with many of the adverse side effects that long-term steroids have, this medication can be very expensive for large dogs.

While the expense may not concern you, the info that Sara Redding Ochoa (DVM) offered us may. Here is what she told us:

“Some studies link Apoquel to an increase in cancer. As a Janus kinase Inhibitor, it does slightly suppresses the immune system which may be responsible for a cancer risk in dogs. If you find this concerning there’s an even newer medication called Cytopoint. It’s an allergy injection that lasts 4 to 6 weeks, sometimes longer. It also may be cheaper than Apoquel, especially for small dogs.” 

Allergies And Effects on Quality of Life

Canine itchiness is usually the result of dermatitis-type allergies.

The skin is most affected which results in reduced quality of life.

You see, when a dog scratches, it gradually worsens the condition and a vicious cycle ensues.

That’s why it is important to address, if at all possible, the underlying reasons for your dog’s allergies.

The Bottom Line

Apoquel may be just the itch solution your dog needs. Indeed, it works well.

Of course, identifying and eliminating the source of the skin allergies would be even better!

A diet change may also help as well as avoiding known indoors and outdoors allergens.

Otherwise, ask your vet about getting your dog an Apoquel prescription.

What Do You Think? Have Your Say Below…

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21 thoughts on “Considering Apoquel For Your Dog? Read This First!”

  1. Ann-Marie says:

    My dog has been on Apoquel since last year and he is now scratching again. He is on 16mg once a day. Can anyone recommend anything else please?

    1. Ask your vet about Temaril P. It’s a substitute from Apoquel. My sister gives her dog Cetirizine (generic Walmart brand) but he is large. You have to rotate meds on every so often as big dogs develop a tolerance level much as people do.

      But ask your vet before changing. My vet had me giving childrens liquid Claritin for a couple of years til he developed a tolerance. My dog is 11 pounds now.

      Be very careful what you give because dogs cannot tolerate the D-version and also cannot take certain types of anti-allergen meds.

  2. I have a 6 year old male Rottweiler with allergies. 6 different vet dermatologists, many experimental drugs, shampoos, etc. and no results. We even changed the dog food four times. Then Apoquel, five days of terrible diarrhea. Not good!

    1. My Chinese Crested has been on Apoquel for 2 years with constant diarrhea. His vets deny it’s been caused by the Apoquel, but I have stopped the medication and his diarrhea has gotten much better.

      He does have bad skin allergies. I will keep him on Benadryl and go back to Temaril-P.

  3. My dog took Apoquel and in two days he was dead! The vet said it was not the pill but I find that hard to believe. He was only 5 years old and healthy.

  4. This is the answer to all my dog’s problems. She’s now able to to stop itching her body so that there are no sores. She plays, jumps and is a very happy dog. I’m so thankful as we were at the end of our rope. There didn’t seem to be an answer for her and then this came along.

  5. Our vet has just put Molly (Shih Tzu) on Apoquel and her constant itching, scratching, licking stopped almost immediately. I do worry about side effects but she got so bad no one could get any sleep, especially Molly. We’ve only been given a 2 week supply so I wonder if we have to wait and see what happens after this. We don’t want to go backwards!

  6. Will my dog have to keep on taking Apoquel forever or the the itching cycle be broken by the 10 day use?

  7. My dog Alex has been on everything to stop the allergies. Yesterday my vet gave me Apoquel to try for 2 weeks. It is day two now, and his ear swelled up like a balloon and he won’t stand up. I am thinking this may be a side effect, but will call my vet tomorrow morning.

    This is my last resort. If it does not work, he will have to go back to the steroids. He bites and scratches so much that he bleeds and then his skin turns black. Also his hair falls out and ear infections set in. I feel bad for him and I am hoping this med works.

  8. My 9.5 year old Beagle has been on a daily dose of Apoquel for almost 2 years. This drug has been miraculous. I have my dog back. He’s happy, healthy and full of mischief! His dermatitis is severe and through the years we have tried everything.

    Anti-histamines, immunotherapy injections (skin testing here was useful as we discovered his main allergen was house-dust mite), Cyclosporine, steroids, all the lotions and potions. Steroids and cyclosporin worked but the side-effects were awful. Nothing else made much of a difference.

    I have a hep-filter vacuum and we disposed of as much soft-furniture as possible. Also, we confined him to the back of the house with wooden floorboards and leather sofas. I washed his bedding every two days and boil-washed it once a week. I treated his ears every day and gave him a Malaseb bath twice a week.

    He was on monthly immunotherapy injections and regular attempts of Cyclosporin or steroids when it got really bad. But we considered the side-effects worth it for some temporary relief.

    But despite all this, there were times when his quality of life was so badly affected, that we wondered if we were being cruel to keep trying. Within a day or two of taking Apoquel, my boy was improving. After a week, he was almost completely better.

    His redness had gone, broken skin had healed and his yeast patches had disappeared. He got his energy back because he wasn’t up all night scratching. He was the way he used to be as a pup.

    Our vet has been excellent – doing her very best to maintain the supply during times when it was hard to get. My dog has yearly blood tests to monitor how he is doing, and all is well so far.

    There may be long-term effects we are not yet aware of, but I don’t care. My boy has been given (so far) two years of health, and nothing else did that for him.

  9. My dog has suffered for 4 years by getting shots that only last for a day or two. This year was much worse than the others. The groomers gave me a handout for Apoquel and I went directly to his vet for the pills. Nearly all the redness was cleared up in one day. The itching too, a couple of days. Finally we can sleep through the night.

  10. I have a 2 year old Black Lab mix that has suffered with allergies since we rescued him from a shelter where he was literally scratching all of his fur and skin off. The shelter said, being the runt of the litter, his kennel mates were picking on him and that’s what caused it.

    He has pretty much been on and off Temaril-P since we got him, which as a steroid and not great for internal organs. It also causes him to be lethargic and sleep most of the day.

    Our vet suggested Apoquil and it worked wonders. We noticed the itching subside within the first 2 days. He was on it for a month and did unbelievably well! The problem is the same as many of you, the vet is on back-order and doesn’t know when more will be coming in.

    I have read a few articles stating that the manufacturer purposely holds it back to create more demand. People naturally want what they can’t have.

    Any thoughts on this? I’m not sure when we will be able to get him back on it and even then, will it be for a short time? We he have to suffer again, in a vicious circle?

  11. My dog is a Labrador Staffie mix and has been suffering for months, desperately scratching and gouging her skin. She has been absolutely cured after just 10 days on Apoquel. I can’t believe it, she’s like a new dog. The problem now is getting more tablets as the vet has none at present.

  12. We have a 6 year old mixed Lab that, without Apoquel, is suffering from itching and loss of hair. This, in turn, causes anxiety in the dog from not having relieve from the symptoms. When she is on Apoquel she is a new dog. Unfortunately, we can only get it on a limited basis so the dog’s health is in a constant sates of flux.

    I do not understand why Zoetis can not produce enough. I have worked for a pharmaceutical company for 32 years and find this situation to be unacceptable. There are many pet owners going through the same, no supply of medication for their pets. The FDA should be allowing another supplier to manufacture the equivalent.

  13. I have a 6 year old Beagle that had some itching problems, nothing severe. He went to the vet a happy, healthy, full of life dog and now is very sick. The veterinarian recommended Apoquel and the first couple of days it seemed to help. Now 2 weeks later, I have a dog that is lethargic, can’t jump up on the couch and can’t even come up one step into the house.

    He has been off of it for 3 days and is not much better. This drug is too new and, if you do research, some of the test dogs had to be euthanized because of the side effects. Don’t give your dog Apoquel, it may kill them!

    1. Thank you for sharing and I’m so sorry this happened to you and your baby. This is why I research everything before trying it. I’m not giving my baby boy this stuff!

    2. I was saddened to read your comment but have to say I have experienced the complete opposite. My 14 year old Westie who was diagnosed with chronic renal failure 18 months ago has been taking Apoquel for over a year without any side effects. He was at the point of ripping and scratching lumps out of himself which were then becoming infected due to the urea in his saliva.

      So we felt we had nothing to lose. My little lad is now living the itch-free life he has been waiting for and he has more energy, eats better, plays and runs. He is my inspiration.

    3. What was the dose they gave to your dog? My vet prescribed this to my dog 16mg twice a day for 1 week. I think it is too much because he is an 11 pound Toy Poodle. Thank you.

      1. Hi Snoopy. That is way too much. 16mg is for 60+ pounds.

        1. I just went to the vet today. He bites his paws bad. He is a nearly 12 pound Poodle mix with allergies. We give him 5.4mg, twice a day. I am afraid to give him this pills too.

    4. My dog was on Apoquel for three weeks with no noticeable benefit. And I became worried when I looked at Apoquel’s own study of 239 dogs, 16 of them developed very serious conditions leading to euthanasia in 7. That’s 1 in 15 dogs that developed either cancer or serious infection which makes me very wary.

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