Apoquel: A Medication For The Control Of Itching In Dogs With Allergies
By Rachele Baker, DVM – Apoquel is a medication used to treat itching in dogs due to allergies to environmental allergens (atopy), flea allergy, food allergies, and contact allergies. Apoquel has a rapid onset of action. It provides itch relief within four hours and controls itching within twenty-four hours. Apoquel also has anti-inflammatory effects. Apoquel can be used on a short term basis for acute flare-ups or on a long term basis.
Apoquel works by inhibiting signaling molecules in the body called cytokines that are involved in itching and allergies. Cytokines in the skin regulate itch stimulation and inflammation. Apoquel stops itching by selectively targeting pro-allergic and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Breaking the itch cycle allows the skin to heal and provides relief for dogs suffering from allergies.
It is safe for dogs being treated with Apoquel to receive vaccines, NSAIDs (for example Rimadyl and Metacam), antibiotics, parasiticides (flea control, heartworm preventatives, and dewormers), and allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots).
Zoetis cautions that Apoquel should not be used in dogs less than twelve months of age or in dogs with serious infections. The most common side effects seen in dogs are vomiting and diarrhea.
Board certified veterinary dermatologists on VIN (an online discussion forum for veterinarians) have said that based on their experience Apoquel is a very good medication to help treat itching in allergic dogs but it is not effective in all cases. They caution that it is still essential to identify the underlying source of the itching and to treat secondary infections. Apoquel may be used instead of other medications commonly used for allergies in dogs such as steroids. Apoquel may be used as part of a multimodal treatment plan which may include flea control and bathing with medicated shampoos.
If your dog is itchy and you suspect that your dog may have allergies, or if you know that your dog has allergies, schedule a visit with your veterinarian to discuss whether Apoquel is a good treatment option for your dog.