Apoquel Drug: What is the Alternatives?

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Many dog owners come across an issue where their dog gets an itch that can be an issue as it gets so intense that your dog suddenly becomes a maniac because of that itch. The itch is so bad that it keeps the dog up for nights. This becomes a major health concern if the itch won’t go away soon.

The itch leads the dog to bite its own body or rub the area so terribly that it gets inflamed or form bruises. This is a major concern amongst the dogs and there are hundreds and thousands of issues registered in hospitals similar to skin allergies in dogs.

That’s when the drug Apoquel hit the market like a storm. This might be popular amongst owners or vets, but it carries its own side effects and risks which might be enough to change the mind of anyone who goes for buying it.

Check some best alternatives for the dog here.

Check the best alternative for the cat here

What is the Apoquel drug?

Apoquel is basically a drug that claims to provide relief from the unstoppable urge to itch within an amazingly short period of time. The drug is FDA approved and works as an immunosuppressant.

It treats chronic dermatitis, or fleas attack causing itch in dogs and have been the number #1 choice of vets all around the world.

Usually, the itch is caused because of the bad immune system in dogs, so it works as an “immune-modulator”. In other words, this drug works as an immune system in dogs. It actually kills the sensation that makes the dog itch by interfering with the enzymes in its body.

This way it helps in providing relief from the itch and the drug is so effective that it works perfectly within 24 hours providing complete immunization from the itch and treats the affected area thoroughly.

What are the Side Effects?

This drug is just perfect as it provides total relief from the itch. But maybe it is too good to be perfect and that’s why there are some things that many people neglect. This might be good for small term use as it is not lab tested on dogs for more than 30 days. This makes it risky as there are no proofs that it will work perfectly for more than a month.

Also, the things it that the test was conducted for a month on dogs and the results were not what the scientists expected. Some of the dogs showed behavioral issues and abnormal health conditions which involved vomit, diarrhea, etc. Also, the immune system of the dogs was being compromised as there was no guarantee how long will there be a need of using this drug. It could go on for a year and it might turn out bad for dogs within that year.

There was another concern that the drug is limited to dogs older than the age of 12 months. Smaller dogs are more likely to develop bacteria and infection when given the drug making it deadly for them. And there is actually no proof that it will work perfectly for adult dogs as there are risks attached to it.

What are the alternatives?

It is not necessary to use medication for something like an itch and yes, there are actually ways in which you can stop that itch in your dog without having to use any drug.

There is actually a program that specially deals with helping dogs in getting rid of their itch. This elimination of allergy program is very effective. It might not be as effective as the Apoquel drug, but it does not have any risks or side-effects. It helps in strengthening your dog’s immune system and will eliminate the itch forever.

5 Best Apoquel Natural Alternatives

Allergy Immune Supplement for Dogs – With Omega 3 Wild Alaskan Salmon Fish Oil & Epi Cor 

Made in the US, the Allergy Immune Supplements from Epi Cor is a chewable tablet supplement free from corn, wheat, soy, and grain. It is suitable for all breeds of dogs of all life stages. The ingredients present in this supplement are digestive and immune-friendly, it is lamb flavored and tastes great too.

apoquel alternatives

Epi Cor is a mixture of healthy ingredients- proteins, vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and fibers. The Alaskan Salmon Oil contains Omega 3 fatty acids that improve a dog’s immune system and Colostrum supports good digestion and stops allergy. The five-strain probiotic complex also improves the immune system. These natural nourishing nutrients make these soft chewable tablets one of the best.

Vet’s Best Hot Spot Spray for Dogs

Made in the US, the Vet’s Best Hot Spot Spray is a veterinarian recommended spray for the last 30 years to control itching and allergies in dogs. It is completely free from harmful chemicals and is made from natural ingredients that provide fast and long-lasting relief to hot spots.

apoquel alternatives

The natural ingredients are tree tea oil, Aloe Vera, and Chamomile. They are the best when it comes to soothing the inflamed and irritated skin by providing sting-free fast relief.  This spray is alcohol-free and works well with other medication. However, it should not be used on cats and pregnant or nursing dogs.

Vet’s Best Healthy Coat Shed and Itch Relief Dog Supplement

Made in the US, Vet’s Best Healthy Coat Shed and Itch Relief Supplement is a veterinarian recommended chewable tablet suitable for mature dogs of all breeds. For the last 30 years, this product maintains the fur shedding and provides relief from the itchy and inflamed skin.

apoquel alternatives

It is made from a mixture of natural ingredients like Yellow Dock Root, Quercetin, and Omega Fatty Acids. They stop excessive shedding, keep the skin healthy and fur shiny, and control itching. This product is safe and NASC approved. One bottle has 50 tablets and the recommended dosage should be given for the best results.

Vet’s Best Seasonal Allergy Relief Dog Supplements, 60 Chewable Tablets

Made in the US, Vet’s Best Seasonal Allergy Relief Supplement is a veterinarian recommended chewable tablet suitable for mature dogs of all breeds. For the last 30 years, this product provides itch relief to dogs that suffer from seasonal allergies.

It is made from a mixture of natural ingredients like Needle, Quercetin, Perilla leaf and Citrus. The anti-oxidants control histamine levels, provide relief from seasonal allergies and maintain healthy skin and fur. The ingredients support maximum digestion and absorption. This product is safe and NASC approved. A bottle contains 60 tablets and is safe for dogs above one year and/or elder.

Pro-Sense Itch & Allergy Solutions for Pets, 100-Count

Made in the US, Pro-Sense Itch and Allergy Solution is a tablet suitable for adult dogs of all dog breeds. This tablet is an antihistamine which provides temporary relief from itching and allergies by controlling the histamine levels.

apoquel alternatives

This product works exclusively to reduce allergy and provides fast temporary relief from itching and inflammation. It also reduces annoying itching symptoms like watery eyes, running nose and sneezing. Each bottle contains 100 tablets which should be given twice a day, according to the dog’s weight and the bottle is on-the-go friendly. The tablet should not be mixed with any other product and is suitable for dogs above 15 lbs.

Apoquel 16 mg

Apoquel is an allergy medicine for pets like dogs. Dogs are prone to several types of allergies. They can range from allergy due to eating a certain kind of food, from medication, parasites like flea, ticks, and mites, contact allergy, allergic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.

Oclacitinib is also known as Apoquel, controls itching and inflammation within 24 hours. After the initial application, it provides relief within the first 4 hours. Apoquel has a JAK inhibitor, which works on itch causing cytokines to stop itching. It provides short term or long term and fast relief from hot spots and dermatitis caused by itching.

Generic Name for Apoquel

The generic name for Apoquel is Oclacitinib. Oclacitinib has been researched upon in 18 universities of USA and is FDA approved. Some even consider this as a better allergy medication than Prednisone, Dexamethasone, and Triamcinolone.

It is not an antihistamine or corticosteroid but works in the same way. It stops cytokines that cause itching and inflammation in dogs. It is a prescription canine medication which can be bought from the vet. It should not be used on cats. They are available in tablet forms and should not be given to dogs without a proper prescription from the vet. Some side effects are common.

Apoquel Active Ingredients

Apoquel is a prescription oral tablet for dogs. These tablets are small in size, white and oval. They are about 10 mm in size. The chemical composition of Apoquel is N-methyl [trans-4-(methyl-7H-pyrrolo [2,3-d] pyrimidin-4-ylamino) cyclohexyl] methane sulfonamide (2Z)-2-butenedioate.

They are available in two types of bottles; one contains 20 tablets whereas the other contains 100 tablets. The active ingredient in each tablet is Oclacitinib Maleate which stops the itching and inflammation effectively. This prescription animal drug is available in three tablet sizes. The strengths are 3.6 mg, 5.4 mg, and 16 mg. In this article, the 16 mg Apoquel is discussed.

Apoquel Dosage Guide

If the right amount of dose is not given to the dog, there can be severe side effects and overdose. The Apoquel Dosage Guide is simple yet important and should be read by every pet-owner before using this drug on their pets.

The dosage should be given daily based on a dog’s body weight.

  • For dogs who are 6.6-9.9 lbs should be given half of a 3.6 mg tablet twice a day,
  • For 10-14.9 lbs the required dosage is half of a 5.4 mg tablet twice a day,
  • For 15-19.9 lbs the required dosage is a 3.6 mg tablet twice a day,
  • For 20-29.9 lbs the required dosage is a 5.4 mg tablet twice a day,
  • For 30-44.9 lbs the required dosage is half of a 16 mg tablet twice a day,
  • For 45-59.9 lbs the required dosage is two 5.4 tablets twice in a day,
  • For 60-89.9 lbs the required dosage is one 16 mg tablet twice a day,
  • For 90-129.9 lbs the required dosage is 1 ½ 16 mg tablet twice in a day and
  • For dogs above that the required dosage is two 16 mg tablets daily.

What are the Apoquel Interactions?

Apoquel is available in the tablet form and can be taken daily with or without dog food. This prescription drug is safe to be given simultaneously with other medications too. The other types of medication include antibiotics, other allergy medications and anti-inflammatory drugs.

If a dog is going to get vaccinated or has been vaccinated, this medication will not interfere with its working. It can also be used with parasiticides and allergy shots. Antihistamine drugs like Prednisone may not be able to provide the best results as its action is mild. Apoquel is safe to be given to dogs along with Prednisone for better itch relief. However, using Apoquel combined with immunosuppressive agents, glucocorticoids and cyclosporine has not been declared safe yet.

Why Wouldn’t I Give My Dog Apoquel?

Usage of Apoquel causes side effects in many dogs. Firstly, dogs younger than 12 months should not be treated with Apoquel. Secondly, in case of overdose, the pet should be rushed to the vet immediately. Thirdly, continuous use of Apoquel causes severe problems in dogs. Some of them are mentioned below:

  1. Diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, increased appetite, increase in weight, anorexia, and lethargy are some of the common side effects.
  2. Other serious side effects include chances of infections like demodicosis and formation of new cutaneous or subcutaneous lumps.
  3. Some dogs may even suffer from Pneumonia, UTI’s, skin or ear infections, and polydipsia. The rate of weight gain, uneasiness and ear infections in dogs are unusually high.
  4. Decreased levels of leukocytes and globulins along with higher levels of lipase and cholesterol are noticeable after continuous doses of this medication.
  5. Some studies have shown that this medication is not safe to be used on dogs for a longer period even though it guarantees 100% results.

 Apoquel Over-the-Counter

According to the dog’s size and severity of the allergy, Apoquel should be prescribed to them by the vet. The basic guide of dosage is twice daily for two weeks and once daily after two weeks are over. However, many dog owners complained about Apoquel being too costly and requested for over the counter alternatives.

Buying over the counter medication without a proper prescription from the vet should be avoided. There are several options available like Prednisone, Chlorpheniramine, and Triamcinolone. However, they are not as effective or safe as compared to Apoquel. So, over the counter alternatives are quite scarce.

What are the Good Alternatives to Apoquel?

There are several good alternatives to Apoquel which can be opted by dog-owners. Apoquel is a good allergy medication, but it can be toxic and harmful to some dogs. To avoid this, other medications or other techniques can come in handy while dealing with dog allergy issues.

  • One of the best ways to deal with any dog issue is by consulting the vet. The vet will be happy to suggest you about allergy elimination programs. These programs are safer than Apoquel and aim at strengthening the dogs’ immune system.
  • The second alternative would be to get hold of a homeopathic veterinarian rather some jumping onto allergy medications. Homeopathy is extremely safe and will not only stop the allergy, but also take care of his/her well-being.
  • Thirdly, there are better allergy medications available in the market today which are considered safer than Apoquel. Atopica can be a better option for some. Medicines like Prednisone can be given with Apoquel.

 Apoquel Natural Alternatives

Instead of treating a dog with medications like Apoquel, home-made natural remedies can be used. They are not only easy to make, cheaper, safer, but also cure itching. Some of the natural alternatives of Apoquel are given below.

  • Quercetin:

Histamine is a chemical released during allergy that is responsible for causing the itch. Quercetin is found in fruits and vegetables. It has antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin should be given to dogs in a supplement form. Also known as Nature’s Benadryl, it switches the histamine off, thereby reducing itching and inflammation.

  • Colostrum:

Colostrum is found in mammalian milk. It contains PRP which can stop allergy. Colostrum in the powdered or capsule form should be given to dogs to help ease allergies.

  • Aloe Vera:

Not just for humans, the Aloe Vera gel can be used on dogs too. The Aloe gel is known to contain properties that can heal the skin and hair. Applying the clear gel from the plant will not only soothe the inflamed skin, but also keep the fur healthy.

  • Baking Soda:

In general, baking soda has several benefits. For dogs, a baking soda paste or spray will calm the itchy skin and provide relief to the suffering dog.

Can I Take Apoquel on Airplane?

An Apoquel container can either contain 20 or 100 tablets. The container is light-weight and very easy to carry from one place to another. Yes, it is safe to carry Apoquel while traveling in an airplane.

The constituents of the drug remain the same and it effectively does not change. However, it is always better to carry the tablets with the prescription and it is also a good option to ask the staff at the airport whether it can be carried in the hand luggage or booked luggage. For some dog-owners, daily dosing may be an issue. Several allergy shots are available at the vet for them.

Apoquel Alternative Injection

A good alternative to Apoquel is allergy infections. Apoquel is not 100% safe and causes side effects in dogs.  At the vet, the dog can be given allergy injections that provide fast and long-lasting relief from itching and allergies.

  • Cytopoint:

Cytopoint is an allergy medication which is only available in the injection form. This option can be opted by pet owners to whom daily dosing is not an option. It provides relief from allergy for 4-8 weeks. However, it is quite costly and should be used in severe cases only. After the injection, lethargy is one of the common symptoms observed in the first 24-48 hours.

  • CADI (Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic):

CADI is a new allergy and hay fever drug used by vets today. This antibody injection neutralizes the protein that causes itching in dogs and is quite effective. A monthly dose is enough to provide relief. It is a dog allergy injection and should not be given to cats. Lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea are some of the related side effects.


Which is Better for Itchy Dogs, Apoquel or Prednisone?

Traditionally to cure dog allergies, Prednisone was used. It is a steroid which is not only cheap but also cures dog allergy. However, use of steroids leads to many health issues. Steroids cause increased hunger and thirst. Using them for a long period leads to liver issues and endocrine diseases. The only advantage of Prednisone is that it is very cheap when compared to Apoquel.

Apoquel is a relatively new drug. It is not an antihistamine, but it works in the same way and it works better to completely cure itching. Just like steroids, antihistamines are also known to cause side effects. However, Apoquel is FDA tested and safer than the others mentioned above as the side effects are lesser. The only disadvantage of Apoquel is that it is more expensive than Prednisone. Sometimes, a dose of Apoquel and Prednisone can be given to dogs after consulting the vet.

Apoquel vs. Atopica

In the market today, Apoquel and Atopica are the two most effective medications when it comes to fighting allergies and itching in dogs. They are highly recommended by vets. However, they are different from each other in many ways.

  • Size:

Apoquel and Atopica are both available in tablet forms; Apoquel tablets are smaller in size and easier to administer whereas Atopica tablets are larger in size and become difficult for pet-owners. Atopica is, however, available in more sizes when compared to Apoquel.

  • Dosing:

Apoquel should be given continuously for two weeks and Atopica should be given once every month. Due to this, Apoquel works faster and reduces visible itching within one day, whereas Atopica can take up to 4 weeks to show the best results.

  • Side Effects:

Both the medications affect the immune system but studies show that use of Atopica causes vomiting and diarrhea more as compared to Apoquel.

  • Cost:

Four different sizes come at different prices for Atopica whereas all the sizes are of the same price for Apoquel.

Apoquel vs. Benadryl

Apoquel is a canine prescription medicine, which can be bought in stores or from the vet, however, Benadryl is a natural alternative to Apoquel. They differ from each other to a vast extent.

  • Action:

Benadryl is an antihistamine and is one of the oldest allergy medicine used by vets and pet-owners. Apoquel is a new, better and stronger medication. Benadryl’s action is quite mild when compared to Apoquel. Benadryl is an over the counter alternative to Apoquel and can be more effective if mixed with other medication.

  • Side effects:

Apoquel is FDA tested and is safe to be used by dogs other than the few side effects. Benadryl has been used as a home remedy for long, it has been tried and tested by vets for long too. It is safe for dogs other than some gastric side effects. Benadryl can be used by humans too.


All antihistamines are much cheaper when compared to new medicines like Apoquel.

Apoquel vs. Chlorpheniramine 4 MG Tablets

Chlorphenamine is a traditional allergy medicine whereas Apoquel is a relatively newer allergy drug.  They are totally different from each other because they reduce allergy by targeting completely different chemicals.

  • Action:

Chlorphenamine is an antihistamine. It inhibits the itch-causing histamine in the dog’s body from causing any further itch. Apoquel works by inhibiting the cytokines that are known to cause the itching. Apoquel works better and faster when compared to antihistamines.

  • Side Effects:

Chlorpheniramine causes more side effects than providing a remedy. The common side effects are vomiting, diarrhea, dry mouth, lack of appetite, drowsiness and urinary retention. Apoquel side effects are lesser.

  • Use:

Apoquel is strictly made for canines whereas its counterpart is made for dogs and cats. Chlorpheniramine is also available for humans in different forms.

  • Cost:

Antihistamines are much cheaper when compared to Apoquel. But as mentioned above, its benefits are lesser when compared to Apoquel. Hence, Apoquel is a better option.

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