We are very familiar with the old “cure the cause and not the symptom” saying. However, when it comes to dog allergies and severe itching, we tend to rely on quick and easy fixes, such as Apoquel. While Apoquel significantly improves the quality of life of allergic canines, it is not universally suitable for all dogs.
Apoquel is an FDA-approved drug made by Zoetis used to manage skin issues, irritation, and itching. From a pharmacology standpoint, the active ingredient in Apoquel, oclacitinib, is JAKi (Janus Kinase Inhibitor).
Oclacitinib works by inhibiting cytokine production (chemicals responsible for inflammation and itching). This breaks the vicious itching and scratching cycle, thus allowing the skin to heal.
Apoquel’s main use is for dogs with atopic dermatitis. However, it can also be used in the management of other allergies, such as environmental, contact, food, flea allergies, etc.
The recommended Apoquel dosage for dogs is between 0.18 to 0.27 milligrams per pound, twice for the first 14 days and then once a day. It is important to stick to these doses since it is possible to overdose dogs on Apoquel. In the case of an overdose, it is vital to seek immediate vet help.
As with several medications, there are several pros and cons when it comes to the use of Apoquel. The following are several benefits.
Apoquel is fast-acting and usually reduces itchiness in as little as four hours. In some cases, it may take up to 24 hours which is still very fast.
Apoquel is effective in itchiness management. Having the same effect as prednisolone, it works in 66% of dogs with atopic dermatitis and 67% of dogs with allergic dermatitis (according to sciencedirect.com).
Apoquel use is free from steroid-linked side effects, making it a safer option for dogs with allergies, especially in the long run. Apoquel is also relatively safe to use simultaneously with many common meds like antibiotics, antihistamines, and NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs).
Apoquel provides relief while allowing the vet to keep searching (performing diagnostic procedures) for the exact underlying cause of itchiness.