Apoquel: What Is Apoquel For Dogs & How Can It Help?

Is your dog suffering from allergies? This can cause itching & inflammation and may require Apoquel. Learn how to get an Apoquel prescription filled online.

Courtney Elliott

Updated April 07, 2022 • Published April 07, 2022

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Apoquel: What Is Apoquel For Dogs & How Can It Help?

If you have a dog, you know that allergies can cause our canine friends to suffer from some uncomfortable symptoms like itching and inflammation.

The symptoms will wax and wane depending on the amount of the allergen(s) the pet is exposed to, and generally, the symptoms get worse throughout the pet's life. Treatment is targeted at minimizing the symptoms caused by the allergy, but the allergy itself is not cured. 

While some allergies cause only mild or temporary symptoms that your pet can live with, many cannot, and may require medication.

If you notice that your dog is itching a lot, it’s important to talk with a vet to help your pup get some relief. There are other medical conditions besides allergies that can cause a pet to be itchy, so your vet will perform some simple diagnostic tests in an effort to try to determine the cause of your pet's itch.

It's reasonable to expect some trial and error during this process because getting an exact diagnosis isn't always easy or straightforward. If your vet thinks your dog is itchy because of allergies, Apoquel is one option your vet may reach for in an effort to provide your pet with some relief.

Apoquel is a commonly prescribed allergy medication for dogs that helps soothe the unwanted sensations caused by allergies. 

How does Apoquel work?

An oral tablet prescribed to dogs 12 months and older, Apoquel provides fast acting relief, generally reducing itching very quickly—often within 24 hours. Apoquel is believed to be as effective as corticosteroids like prednisone.

It works by getting to the source of the itching and inflammation. That source is a chemical in your dog’s body called cytokine.

Every dog has cytokines—a category of small proteins—in their body. These cytokines are chemical messengers that send signals between cells in your dog's body, and when your dog is having an allergic reaction or is suffering from allergies, these chemicals create inflammation and cause itching. Apoquel inhibits these chemicals, and therefore relieves the itching and inflammation.

It’s important to note that Apoquel does not have a dramatic effect for every dog and as a result your pet may need an additional or alternative form of treatment.

How to get a prescription for Apoquel

Apoquel for dogs cannot be obtained without a prescription from a veterinarian.

If your vet thinks that Apoquel is right for your pup, they can write you a prescription for the medication.

If you're a Pawp member and you already have a prescription from a vet for Apoquel, you can fill it online at the Pawp Pharmacy. You'll not only get the medication shipped right to your door each month with Autoship, but will also get the cheapest price for Apoquel. Pawp members can fill their Apoquel prescription for less than $200, compared to other sites like Chewy where the medication costs upwards of $250 for the same number of tablets.

How to give your dog Apoquel

Your veterinarian will typically recommend your dog take the Apoquel twice daily for two weeks, and then once daily for maintenance. This oral tablet can be taken with or without food, but a vet will be able to tailor the directions for use to your dog’s specific needs.

Apoquel is not recommended for dogs under the age of one, nor for pregnant or lactating mothers. While it is not approved for use in cats, it has been used with success in cats.

Make sure that the Apoquel is stored at a controlled room temperature between 68° - 77°F (with excursions between 59° - 104°F). It also needs to be protected from light.

If you miss or forget a dose of Apoquel, give it when you remember it, then adjust the timing of your next dose from there. Do not double up on dosing.

It's important to add that Apoquel is not intended for human ingestion. Keep out of reach of children and pets (to prevent overdose). In the case of accidental human ingestion, seek medical attention right away. Wash hands immediately after handling tablets.

Potential side effects of Apoquel

Apoquel is a popular medication for dogs because it doesn’t produce the same unpleasant side effects as steroids, and can be recommended for short or long term use.

That being said, using Apoquel is not without risks. The most common side effects associated with Apoquel are vomiting, diarrhea, appetite loss and listlessness. These signs are generally mild, temporary and/or controllable by giving food with the medication.

Apoquel also should not be used in patients with a history of cancer, severe infection, or demodectic mange. If your dog is taking Apoquel, it is important to report any new skin growths to your vet right away. Monitoring lab work is commonly recommended for any medication in use longer than 6 months.

If your dog is prescribed the medication, here are some important ground rules for safe use of Apoquel.  

  1. Please remember that Apoquel's intended use is to reduce itching. Many itchy dogs also end up developing rashes, sores, and secondary infections of the skin and/or ears. These things are itchy in and of themselves. That means your dog may not experience adequate relief with Apoquel if any underlying, secondary, or additional skin problems are left untreated. Even if the Apoquel does provide relief of the itch associated with these other skin problems, it's important to not ignore them. They should still be treated as well, even if they're not bothering the dog as much.

  2. The label on this medication contains a caution against use in patients with cancer. However, this does not mean that Apoquel causes cancer. Regardless, there is some uncertainty as to whether or not it interferes with the body's normal protective mechanisms that help to control cancer. If there is any reason to suspect your dog may have cancer, Apoquel might not be the best choice for you. 

  3. Apoquel seems to make demodex skin mite infestations worse and more itchy. Consequently, Apoquel should not be used in an effort to control the itch associated with demodectic mange.

It is important to understand that any dog taking Apoquel is considered to be immunosuppressed, and therefore all the risks associated with that also apply.

Other side effects can also occur with Apoquel, but are not as common.

Fill your prescription for Apoquel online

Apoquel may be just what your dog needs to get relief from itching and inflammation. Talk to Pawp’s vet team to learn more about allergies in dogs or visit the Pawp Pharmacy to fill your prescription for Apoquel online.

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