Apoquel Alternatives

If your dog has atopic dermatitis, you’ve probably tried everything to get rid of the rash. The worst aspect is that your pet will feel like it is continuously on fire due to the itching of atopic dermatitis.

Your dog’s itching won’t go away entirely with an antihistamine, even if it helps a little. You’re probably seeking Apoquel alternatives because it can be difficult to convince it to take this oral medication.

Prednisone and other corticosteroids, Cytopoint® injections, Atopica® and Temaril-P® pills, and Temaril® are all Apoquel substitutes.

Effective non-drug alternatives include immunotherapy injections, allergy avoidance, and regular bathing. An improved diet, fish oil, and a change in lifestyle that reduces stress can also be helpful.

What’s Apoquel?

With FDA approval, Oclacitinib, an immune suppression medication, is sold under the brand name Apoquel. Chronic itching, allergies, and severe skin disorders are all treated with it.

Additionally, Apoquel is frequently recommended for atopic dermatitis, a persistent skin condition with no known treatment.

This anti-itch medicine is not an antibiotic. Skin infections must be treated before or concurrently with the introduction of Apoquel.

Apoquel reduces allergies and itching by interacting with the protein receptors in your dog’s skin and shutting out the itch-causing proteins. With little impact on the immune system, it alleviates the typical symptoms of allergies. This medication is typically taken at a daily dose because it is a fast-acting medication with immediate effects.

Zoetis, the business that makes medications and vaccines for animals, produce this drug. They created Apoquel as a substitute for steroids, typically used by pet owners to treat allergies but have several unfavorable side effects. Your dog’s itching symptoms are quickly relieved by Apoquel, which also reportedly has a long-term itch-reduction effect.

So, Apoquel does not treat allergies, although it does alleviate itchiness in dogs. That means your dog will still experience redness, scabs, and sores while taking this medicine, but the itching will be less acute. With less scratching, there is less stress to the skin, which might aggravate an existing illness.

Is Apoquel Safe For Dogs To Take?

Apoquel will not cure your dog’s allergies but will help reduce the symptoms. There is really no quick treatment for allergies, but there are strategies to manage them properly. If you are dissatisfied with your present medicine, talk to your veterinarian about replacing or adding medications to your prescription.

Apoquel is available in tablets containing 3.6mg, 5.4mg, or 16mg of Apoquel. Depending on the dog’s choice and tolerance to the drug, it should be administered with or without food. Dogs often exhibit symptoms of recovery within 4 hours after beginning Apoquel medication.

Drowsiness, vomiting, restlessness, and loss of appetite are among the potential adverse effects of the medication. However, these side effects are uncommon in Apoquel-treated dogs; the majority have no adverse responses.

Related: Is Vaseline Safe For Dogs?

What Are the Possible Consequences?

The most prevalent Oclacitinib adverse effects are vomiting and diarrhea. Additionally, it raises the possibility of bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Flare-ups of demodectic mange can occur in dogs taking oclacitinib. The most significant adverse effect is the possibility of cancer progressing in treated dogs.

Other Apoquel Facts:

  • Oclacitinib is not a steroid, although it does have an impact on the immune system.
  • It is not recommended for usage in puppies under the age of 12 months.
  • It is not suitable for usage in cats.
  • It can be used on a short or long-term basis.
  • It is not essential to taper/wean off the medication before discontinuing use.
  • Oclacitinib does not create drug dependency, and symptoms may recur when the treatment with the medication stops.

Oclacitinib is not appropriate for every dog or scenario. Fortunately, there are various options, some of which are medicines and others are not. Let’s look at the most commonly given alternative allergy treatment by veterinarians.

Why You Should Try Apoquel Substitutes

You undoubtedly have a purpose for seeking alternatives. These are the reasons to try Apoquel alternatives:

Side Effects

Apoquel delivers quick relief for a potentially lifelong condition but has unwanted effects. Like other drugs, it causes nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Additionally, Apoquel can cause ear infections, mange, and pneumonia. Apoquel reduces white blood cell count in dogs, causing weight loss, lethargy, and elevated cholesterol.

Cancer links

Studies have connected Apoquel to canine cancer. Apoquel can worsen neoplastic diseases. During lab trials, this medicine worsened pre-existing cancer as it weakens your dog’s immune system and reduces its capacity to fight cancer.

Apoquel is a bad choice if your dog has cancer-prone genes or already has cancer. While there’s no direct relationship between Apoquel and cancer, your dog is more prone to it while on medication. Long-term research indicated that 5% of Apoquel-treated dogs got cancer within a year.

Costly Pricing

Apoquel costs $3 for each pill and $100 per bottle, which is another reason pet owners seek alternatives.

Apoquel’s pricing hasn’t altered significantly since its development, and it dominates dog allergy and itching remedies. Before Apoquel, prednisone was used to treat pet itching and allergies.

Apoquel outperforms prednisone and steroids despite its high cost. Pet owners grow reluctant to buy Apoquel when they learn their pets will require it for life.

Apoquel Alternatives For Dogs

Apoquel is an effective anti-allergy medication for dogs, but there are more possibilities.

1. Atopica

Atopica® is an FDA-approved prescription oral medication used to treat canine atopic dermatitis (also known as canine atopy).

It alleviates irritation and redness caused by allergic reactions and other skin conditions, allowing your pet to participate in activities and sleep through the night.

2. Anti-allergy injections

Allergy shots, also known as allergen-specific immunotherapy, are injections administered to dogs suffering from flea dermatitis, food allergies or intolerances, environmental allergies, or atopic dermatitis.

These injections are administered in tiny dosages beneath the skin and gradually increase over time. The medication is intended to modify the dog’s immunological response to those allergens, resulting in fewer severe allergic responses.

3. Benadryl

It is the most common alternative to Apoquel for dogs. Benadryl, also known as diphenhydramine, is an antihistamine used to treat runny noses and other allergic responses in humans and animals. While it is not a true allergy treatment, it can be used to treat allergic responses to pollen and other allergens. It can be used to cure itching on its own, but it is best when paired with another drug.

4. Cytopoint

Another option for managing the symptoms of an allergic response is Cytopoint injection. It is one of the most commonly given drugs for moderate allergic responses because it targets inflamed tissue and reduces skin irritation. This keeps the dog from scratching and helps avoid skin damage, blisters, and hair loss.

5. Over-the-counter medications

Many people treat atopic dermatitis in dogs using over-the-counter medications. These drugs will momentarily alleviate symptoms while avoiding flare-ups of inflammation. Antihistamines, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressants are the most often used drugs.

Some options include using a corticosteroid such as prednisone or dexamethasone and an immune modulator such as cyclosporin. Because these treatments have various effects on the body and have their own adverse effects, give them to your dog only after contacting a veterinarian.

The final option is to try over-the-counter antihistamines such as Claritin or Zyrtec, available without a prescription at your local drugstore. These drugs have certain adverse effects, such as sleepiness, and may not completely cure itching, but when taken appropriately, they are helpful.

Safer Apoquel Alternatives For Your Dog

1. Dietary Changes

Food allergies are rare, but food sensitivities and intolerances can cause red, itchy skin in dogs. Try an elimination diet if you think your dog’s dermatitis is food-related.

In an elimination diet, you remove all probable allergens from your dog’s diet and gently reintroduce items after symptoms improve.

Beef, dairy, chicken, wheat, soy, lamb, maize, and eggs are typical dog allergens. Dogs might get allergic to any meal they’ve eaten before.

Check the ingredients label and note all whole food ingredients. Synthetic vitamins, preservatives, and other small components can cause dog allergies.

Find a dog food without allergenic components. Use the one-protein, one-carb diet and try venison and sweet potato or rabbit and oats.

Over a few days, alter your dog’s food. Once they’re on the new food, limit their diet.

Continue this diet until your dog’s symptoms resolve. That means two to three months for skin allergies. Try a different diet if your dog’s symptoms don’t improve.

If your dog doesn’t improve, it probably doesn’t have a food allergy or sensitivity.

Once symptoms resolve, you can add one restricted food. Feed this diet for at least two months. If symptoms reoccur, your dog is allergic to that food. Remove the food altogether, wait till symptoms improve, then try another. After numerous trials, you’ll find a full and balanced food with diverse proteins and carbohydrates that your dog can consume without allergic dermatitis symptoms.

Even without allergies or intolerances, food may be the problem. Poor diets cause dry, brittle coats and itchy skin. If your dog’s diet isn’t optimum, consider switching to one with many identified animal components at the top, no fillers like corn or soy, and no synthetic coloring or preservatives. Find high-quality foods with at least 25% protein and healthy fats.

2. Eliminating Infections and Parasites

First, test your dog’s skin for fleas, mites, and other parasites.

Flea allergies are frequent in dogs, and one bite can cause a week of itching. Minor or sporadic infestations can be missed at the vet’s office and shouldn’t be ruled out just because flea dirt isn’t apparent.

Mange. Some mites reside so deep in the dermis that they can’t be diagnosed using standard skin scrapings. If your dog exhibits mange signs, but the initial test was negative, you may need further testing.

Some dogs with thyroid disorders and environmental sensitivities might be sensitive to staph. This microorganism is present on most surfaces, even healthy animal skin.

Blood tests that detect antibodies can diagnose this and other allergic illnesses. This may be a beneficial approach if your dog’s allergic dermatitis is caused by an environmental or contact allergen or illness.

Work with your vet to rule out parasitic or other infections before treating your dog’s itchy skin. Take your dog to a veterinary dermatologist.

3. Environmental allergens

Dermatitis is not just an illness but a sign of a greater problem. Finding and treating the underlying cause of your dog’s itching is significantly more likely to lead to a cure.

Dust mites, flea saliva, and pollen are frequent allergies. 70% of canine skin disorders are allergy-related and 90% of dogs with allergic dermatitis react to air or surface allergens.

If your dog only becomes itchy in the spring and fall, they likely have pollen allergies. This diagnosis allows for sparing medication usage, and Apoquel might be hard to wean your dog off of.

Alternatives to medicines can decrease and possibly cure your dog’s allergies.

Using high-powered air purifiers indoors, cleaning HVAC filters often, and decreasing your dog’s grass exposure can lessen symptoms. Dogs with delicate skin, many allergies, or severe allergies may need more.

Immunotherapy may cure your dog’s allergies.

Dogs and humans both benefit from immunotherapy. Your dog is then given injections or oral drops over days to weeks to introduce the allergen carefully. Over time, dosages are reduced, and allergen per dose increases.

In 70% of dogs, the immune system adapts to the allergen and stops responding, reducing or eliminating dermatitis.

4. Supplements

Some vitamins can assist your dog’s itchy skin, just like a higher-quality diet.

Fish oil is often recommended for irritated skin because it contains different omega fatty acids. Omegas are essential for your dog’s skin and well-being and help relieve itching.

Using omega supplements alone reduces itching in 20% of dogs with dermatitis. There’s no disadvantage to offering these fatty acids to your dog as they’re healthful.

Digestive enzyme and probiotic mixes developed for dogs can also relieve itching, especially if your dog has an unknown food allergy or intolerance.

Enzymes help digest dog food. If your dog lacks a specific enzyme or doesn’t create enough, undigested food might trigger an unwanted immune reaction or nutrient shortages, causing itchy skin.

Probiotic organisms help break down particles your dog can’t digest. Healthy gut flora helps your dog absorb nutrients.

Yucca and Quercetin are Apoquel substitutes. Yucca offers steroid-like properties without the adverse effects. Quercetin is a plant product that serves as a natural antihistamine and reduces itching in dogs.

5. Topical Treatments

Dogs with itchy skin can use balms and ointments. These products are beneficial for hot spots and flare-ups.

You don’t need expensive pre-made medicines to soothe your dog’s sensitive skin. Many ordinary objects may be utilized to control your dog’s itchy skin.

Coconut oil soothes and heals skin naturally. It can be used straight on the skin or combined with lavender or peppermint essential oil.

Green tea, chamomile tea, baking soda, oatmeal, and apple cider vinegar are natural anti-inflammatory products. Once your dog feels the relief, they’ll appreciate you for the harsh love.


Apoquel is a medication that targets and inhibits particular immune system mediators that cause itching and inflammation in dogs and can only be obtained with a prescription.

Apoquel is a miracle medicine for certain dogs, but for others, the adverse effects are not worth it.

Before prescribing a new medicine, assessing the risks and benefits is critical. Apoquel’s advantages exceed the hazards for most dogs that suffer from allergies.

Apoquel is not a panacea and is not appropriate for all dogs. If your veterinarian recommends Apoquel for your dog, you should be aware of the hazards. However, if your dog is already suffering from itching and scratching and nothing else is helping, it’s certainly worth a go.

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