Apoquel for Dogs: How it Works, Benefits, Dosing, and Safety

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Allergies are never fun—itchy skin, red eyes, sneezing, congestion…the works. And unfortunately, allergies aren’t exclusive to just humans. Allergies in dogs are a very real problem we face as pet owners. It can lead to a number of health problems, and because most dogs are covered in fur, it can be hard to diagnose or notice at first. This adds to the challenge that is allergies and dogs. 

In recent years, veterinarians have continued to turn toward a medication that has proven to help dogs with allergies and the complications that can follow. This medication is called Apoquel. 

Table of Contents

  1. How it Works
  2. Benefits of Apoquel
  3. Dosing & Administration
  4. Safety & Side Effects

How Does Apoquel Work? 

Simply put, Apoquel is an allergy medication used in dogs. It is effective toward flea allergies, food allergies, and contact allergies. It is known to be especially effective in treating atopic dermatitis and pruritus in dogs (itching). In fact, it is the first medication to be specifically designed to combat allergic itching and inflammation in dogs. It is available in 3 different strengths and costs around $200 per 100 tablets (100 doses). 

Apoquel works by inhibiting chemicals in your dog’s body called “cytokines.” Basically, when dogs are allergic to something or are suffering from seasonal allergies, cytokine chemicals in the body create inflammation and itching around the area of concern. Medication like Apoquel can help curb your dog’s need to itch, thus allowing the area to heal properly. Without a drug to control itching and scratching, your dog will constantly irritate the area, ultimately worsening their allergies and symptoms. 

What are the Benefits of Apoquel for Dogs?

  • Takes effect within 4 hours 
  • Is NOT a steroid (uncommon among allergy medications)
  • Long-term itch reduction 
  • Long-term skin inflammation reduction 

Apoquel is a fast-acting medication and is known to take effect within 4 hours and completely control your dog’s allergic itch within 24 hours. This is good news for healing and relief, both immediate and future. 

A unique characteristic of Apoquel is that it’s not a steroid-based medication. This is uncommon, as most allergy medications will, in fact, contain some type of steroid. And as we know, steroid-based medication can bring unwanted and harmful side effects, such as excessive thirst, urination, and immune system complications. 

Dosing & Administration 

Apoquel is given orally, twice a day, for 14 days (initially). Following the 14-day period, dosing is decreased to a maintenance amount once a day while slowly decreasing dosage to the lowest effective amount (during long-term use). You can, however, safely stop Apoquel use without tapering dosage. It can be given with or without food, and your dog’s weight will determine the exact dose amount. Apoquel doses are usually between .04-.06 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg)

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Safety & Side Effects 

Apoquel is safe to use in dogs one year and older. Side effects have been rarely seen and documented, but the most common occurrences have been mild vomiting and diarrhea. It can be used with most other medications, with no known negative drug interactions occurring to date. Before you start Apoquel for your dog, make sure you and your dog’s veterinarian go through any and all existing medications and how they may interact with Apoquel, if at all. Apoquel is not for use in pregnant pets or pets with severe infections. 




The ElleVet Team
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