Apoquel Killed My Dog

Itching causes a lot of discomforts to us and to our dogs too. If you notice your dog is itchy, you have to look for a solution. It can be frustrating if your vet prescribed Apoquel for your dog but his condition deteriorated after taking it and you are blaming it for the loss of your dog. Sorry for your loss and receive my heartfelt condolence. In this article, I will cover everything you needed to know about Apoquel.

Apoquel Killed My Dog

It is very unlikely that your dog died because of taking Apoquel. There are many reasons why a dog can die after taking Apoquel like an underlying health condition, drug interaction, overdose, or an allergic reaction. 

You should always inform your vet of any medication that your dog is taking, follow the dosage rate prescribed by the vet, and monitor your dog closely for any allergic reactions.

What is Apoquel for dogs?

Apoquel is the brand name for oclacitinib, an oral drug that vets recommend for dogs older than a year old who have allergic dermatitis to control itching. In 2013, the FDA approved Apoquel for use in animals, and since then, it has grown to be one of the most often prescribed canine anti-itch medications. It is made by Zoetis, which is the biggest manufacturer of medications and vaccinations for livestock and pets worldwide.

It takes 4 hours to start working and lasts for 24 hours on all typical sources of allergens (flea, inhalation, food, and contact). It can be used as a long-term cure or short-term treatment for flare-ups. It can also be used with a wide range of other drugs, including NSAIDs, antibiotics, vaccines, parasiticides, and allergy immunotherapy. Apoquel also has anti-inflammatory characteristics and doesn’t interfere with diagnostic testing in case your veterinarian is trying to identify the underlying factor causing your dog’s itching.

How Does it Work?

Apoquel works by interfering with a dog’s immunological response before it becomes acute and causes symptoms such as itching.

When dogs are allergic to anything in the air, their skin becomes itchy and inflamed. When exposed to an allergen, the body’s cells produce substances known as cytokines. Cytokines are responsible for the immunological response and itching that occurs after interaction with allergens.

Apoquel acts by inhibiting cytokine production and can help decrease itching. This helps to disrupt the itching and scratching cycle and allows your dog’s skin to recover.

Your dog will repeatedly worsen the region if no medicine is used to reduce itching and scratching. This can aggravate allergy symptoms and possibly lead to infection.

What is Apoquel used for in dogs? 

Apoquel is primarily used to treat atopy, a type of skin allergy. Skin allergies in dogs are classified into three types.

Food allergies, flea allergies, and atopy are the most frequent allergens in dogs.

Dog food allergies

Food allergies in dogs are characterized by an allergic reaction to a specific food protein, such as beef or chicken. Because commercially available dog food allergy tests are typically regarded as untrustworthy, food allergies are identified through a food trial.

This necessitates eating a very limited diet that excludes specific proteins that can cause allergies. Dogs with food allergies must follow a restricted diet for the rest of their life.

Flea Allergies

Flea allergies are caused by an allergy to proteins found in flea saliva. In dogs with flea allergies, just a few flea bites can cause a large, broad skin reaction with symptoms such as itching, redness, and hair loss.

Most cases of flea allergy can be treated with efficient flea prevention (as prescribed by your veterinarian). Some dogs, however, may require additional allergy treatments if they are in a flea-infested area.  


The most prevalent kind of allergic skin illness in canines is atopy, which is caused by an allergic response to inhaled allergens. Atopy in dogs can be brought on by pollen, dust, mold, and other airborne allergens.

Even though canine atopy is the most prevalent type of allergy, it remains an excluding diagnosis. This implies that before you can conclusively diagnose a dog with atopy, you must first rule out food allergies and flea allergies (with a food trial and consistent prescription-strength flea prevention).

Although hyposensitization injections (commonly known as “allergy shots”) can be helpful, long-term medication is normally used to treat atopy.

Apoquel is frequently used to alleviate the inflammation and itching brought on by canine atopy. Apoquel is frequently continued by dogs throughout their allergy season, while some dogs need medication all year long.

Dogs with flea allergies may also benefit from using Apoquel, though less frequently. It can help manage itchiness and inflammation until flea prevention starts working, or it might offer further relief for a dog that is frequently exposed to fleas in the environment.


In an experiment conducted by Zoetis, 186 of 216 dogs with allergic or atopic dermatitis (86%) improved in symptoms after 30 days of taking Apoquel. 

Apoquel is best used in conjunction with properly designed immunotherapy to determine the source of the itching and build up an optimal immune response rather than an allergic one.

Apoquel For Dogs: Dosage

There are three different tablet strengths of Apoquel available: 3.6mg, 5.4mg, and 16mg. Apoquel tablet dosage ranges from 0.18 to 0.27 mg/lb (0.4 to 0.6 mg/kg). Usually, it is administered twice daily for up to 14 days, followed by once daily. You can administer it with or without food.

Apoquel Dosing Chart For Dogs

You can use the dosing chart for Apoquel for Dogs below to determine how many tablets to give your dog based on its weight. Note: This should not replace your vet’s prescription.

Weight Range3.6mg Tablets5.4mg Tablets16mg Tablets
6.6-9.9 lbs0.5
10-14.9 lbs0.5
15-19.9 lbs1
20-29.9 lbs1
30-44.9 lbs0.5
45-53.9 lbs0.50.5
54-59.9 lbs0.50.5
60-89.9 lbs1
90-129.9 lbs1.5
130-175.9 lbs2

What if I miss a dose of Apoquel?

If you forget to administer Apoquel, skip the missed dose. Then, at the next planned time, give your dog the medication. Maintain the usual dosage schedule. Never give your pet more than one dose at a time.

Can you get Apoquel for dogs without a vet prescription? 

Only veterinarians are authorized to prescribe Apoquel. Consult your veterinarian for advice on how to deal with allergic dogs if you choose to stay away from drugs and stick to home cures.

There may be steps you may do to reduce your dog’s allergy flare-ups depending on the cause of their allergies.

Apoquel’s Possible Side Effects

The side effects of Apoquel® that are most frequently reported include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anorexia
  • Decreased energy (lethargy)
  • Increased thirst

Frequently, these side effects are transient and go away on their own. Contact your veterinarian if these side effects are severe or do not go away.

There may also be more severe negative consequences, such as:

  • Serious infections, such as skin infections, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia
  • Demodicosis (A skin condition brought on by Demodex mites)
  • Skin growths, such as skin cancer and cysts between the toes
  • Aggression
  • low level of white blood cells

You and your veterinarian should keep an eye on your dog for signs of illness, cancer, or skin abnormalities. If you see any of the following symptoms, please contact your veterinarian:

  • Having difficulty breathing
  • lack of energy 
  • Any changes in the skin or hair coat
  • New masses or modifications to existing ones
  • Fever
  • Urinary changes (including accidents, frequency of urination, and bloody urine)

Drug Interactions

Tigilanol tiglate (Stelfonta®), a kind of chemotherapy, should be used with caution when combined with oclacitinib. Short-term use of corticosteroids or cyclosporine (Atopica®) while on oclacitinib has been shown to be safe, but long-term use has not been investigated and is not recommended.

Antihistamines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), anti-seizure medications, allergy immunotherapy, and vaccinations can all be combined safely with oclacitinib. Inform your veterinarian about any medications your pet is receiving (including vitamins, supplements, or herbal remedies).

Apoquel for Dogs – Precautions

Apoquel is not safe or appropriate for your dog if he or she:

  • are less than a year old
  • have a serious infection
  • are being used for breeding
  • are pregnant or nursing puppies

In pre-market safety trials, puppies under one year old showed an elevated rate of bacterial pneumonia and Demodex mange. If your dog has certain infections, your veterinarian may advise against using Apoquel, this is because it suppresses a portion of the immune system. If your dog has had a tumor in the past, your vet may advise against using Apoquel.

Alternative Medication to Apoquel


You’ve probably heard of other drugs used to treat itching or allergies in dogs. If your dog does not respond well to Apoquel, your veterinarian may prescribe alternative medications such as;

Atopica (cyclosporine) is another oral immunosuppressant that veterinarians frequently prescribe for allergy relief. However, compared to fast-acting Apoquel, it can take significantly longer (up to a month of daily treatment) to provide maximum relief. Atopica is also associated with gastrointestinal adverse effects, most notably vomiting, and diarrhea. However, if your dog suffers from recurring ear infections, Atopica may be a better option.


Cytopoint is an antibody protein made by Zoetis, the same company that makes Apoquel. It is injected subcutaneously by a vet. In most dogs, a single injection relieves itching within 24 hours and for four to eight weeks. It’s safe to use on puppies, unlike Apoquel.


For years, veterinarians have utilized corticosteroids like prednisone and Temaril-P (trimeprazine with prednisolone) to reduce inflammation and itching in dogs. The unpleasant side effects of corticosteroids, such as behavioral abnormalities, immune system suppression, and Cushing’s disease with extended usage, make them a poor long-term treatment even when they are beneficial.

Claritin For Dogs

Claritin (loratadine), a human antihistamine, is typically safe for dogs and can provide allergy relief. However, before giving your dog any human medications, you should always consult with your veterinarian. Furthermore, Claritin and other human antihistamines are not FDA-approved for use as an allergy treatment in dogs.

Safer alternatives to Apoquel

Addressing Environmental Allergens

As previously said, dermatitis is never an illness in and of itself, but rather a sign of a larger problem. Identifying and treating the source of the problem, rather than merely the symptom, is much more likely to lead to a cure for your dog’s itching.

Changing Your Dog’s Diet

Some dogs have allergic reactions mostly because of something in their food.  

While actual food allergies are uncommon, food sensitivities and intolerances are considerably more common in dogs and can also cause red and itchy skin. If you suspect that your dog’s dermatitis is caused by something in their food, an elimination diet is the best way to find relief.


Some supplements, like upgrading your dog to a higher quality food, can help fight itchy skin.

When discussing itchy skin, one of the first supplements that springs to mind is fish oil. This is due to the high concentration of omega fatty acids in this oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your dog’s skin and overall health, and they can be especially useful in alleviating irritation.

Topical Treatments

A variety of topical balms and ointments are available for dogs with itchy skin. Many owners find these products useful, particularly for flare-ups and hot spot treatments.

But you don’t have to spend a fortune on ready-made medicines to relieve your dog’s itchy skin. Many everyday things, even those in your pantry, can be used to soothe your dog’s sensitive skin. Natural anti-inflammatory ingredients such as green tea, chamomile tea, baking soda, oatmeal, and apple cider vinegar can all be blended with water for a soothing soak.


Does Apoquel Make Dogs Sleepy?

Lethargy is a less prevalent Apoquel adverse effect in dogs. As a result, there is a potential that Apoquel will make your dog tired and cause decreased activity levels. If this happens to your dog while on Apoquel and you are concerned, it is always better to call your veterinarian to confirm that your dog is not experiencing a negative reaction to the drug. They may advise a different course of action.

Is there a generic version of Apoquel®?

Apoquel® suppresses a crucial itch signal. This eliminates allergic irritation at its root. Apoquel® is the only medicine available for dogs that acts in this manner at the moment.

However, other allergy therapy alternatives for dogs are available. Each differs in terms of effectiveness, cost, and potential side effects. A combination of medications may also be required, especially as skin infections frequently arise in conjunction with or as a result of another infection. Speaking with your veterinarian is the best approach to identifying which treatment or drug combination is appropriate for your dog.

How Do I Store Apoquel

Apoquel should be stored at controlled temperatures ranging from 36 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, with brief exposure to temperatures ranging from 59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit allowed.

Keep the container tightly closed to keep moisture and light out.  

Keep away from children and pets.

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