Everything on Apoquel: The Popular Allergy Medicine for Dogs

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Everything on Apoquel: The Popular Allergy Medicine for Dogs

By: CertaPet Staff Updated: April 21, 2021

All You Need to Know About ApoquelIs Apoquel right for your dog?

Does your dog gnaw and scratch more than usual? It can be a heartbreaking sight, especially if you know that your dog is suffering from an allergic skin disease.

Even worse are the effects of all of that scratching and gnawing – dog hair all over the furniture, inflamed skin and leaky pores (amongst others).

It’s not a fun experience for you or your dog.

If you have a dog who is suffering from pruritus (unbearable itching), prepare to lose some sleep because you’re going to have to deal with a lot of whining and fidgeting throughout the night. Not fun, let me assure you.

White dog scratching ears which needs Apoquel pet meds

There are a number of reasons that your dog may be itching more than usual.

They may have canine atopic dermatitis, an inflammatory chronic skin disease. Your dog may also be suffering from fleas, little critters that hitch a ride on your dog’s fur and causes an unbelievable amount of itching. Ear infections also cause your dog to furiously scratch at their ears.

They may even be dealing with food allergies.

Whatever the case, a relatively new drug that has hit the market may provide the perfect solution for your dog’s itching problem.

Called Apoquel, it has become quite popular with both dog owners and veterinarians due to its efficacy.

What is Apoquel?

Apoquel is an anti-itching medication that works as an excellent counter to skin allergies. This is especially the case for dogs that deal with atopic and allergic dermatitis. Apoquel is known as a “selective Janus Kinase Inhibitor” (AKA JAK).

JAKs perform a number of important functions for the body. Not only do they control the body’s inflammatory response, but they also protect the body from the formation of tumors, aids in development and growth, and helps to form red and white blood cells.

Cells use Kinases, compounds that can be found within a dog’s body, to deliver information. Apoquel contains the active substance oclacitinib, an immunomodulator (medication that affects the activity of the immune system). The importance of oclacitinib is its ability to block Janus Kinases from becoming excited.

JAKs play a major role in causing the skin to become inflamed. As a result, the skin becomes itchy.

Apoquel suppresses JAKs, reducing the itchiness and inflammation associated with allergic and atopic dermatitis in dogs.

Benefits of Apoquel For Dogs

  • Apoquel is safe for both short-term and long-term use.
  • The effects kick in quickly. Onset relief only takes 4 hours to take place.
  • Your dog’s immune system won’t take a beating from using this medication. The effect is minimal at best.
  • Sold in easily digestible tablets.
  • It only takes 24 hours for your dog to find relief from pruritus.
  • You don’t have to stop taking your other medications. Apoquel works perfectly fine with antibiotics, vaccines, and parasiticides.

Can I Give Apoquel to My Dog?

Before giving your dog Apoquel, it’s important that you speak with your veterinarian.

You should inform your vet of any allergic reactions your dog may have had to past medications. They should also be aware of the age of your dog, size, allergies, medical conditions and medications that your dog is currently taking.

Dermatologists ran an experiment in which they administered Apoquel to 250 dogs  The overall effects were primarily positive, though it was stressed that the dogs should be monitored for possible blood abnormalities.

Dogs should avoid taking Apoquel if they are:

  • Breeding
  • Lactating
  • Have a compromised immune system

Apoquel vs Benadryl: What’s the Difference in Drugs?

The active ingredient in Apoquel is oclacitinib.

What differentiates Apoquel from most allergy medications is that it’s an immunomodulator, not an antihistamine.

Apoquel is a selective Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor. Apoquel targets the enzymes directly that cause the sensation of itching in your dog.

You can only purchase Apoquel with a prescription and it only takes a couple of hours to take effect. Apoquel doesn’t have the ability to cure your dog of allergies, but it serves as an excellent treatment option.

On the other hand, Benadryl is an over-the-counter antihistamine that’s used primarily to combat a number of ailments. Benadryl blocks receptors that receive histamines in the body. Benadryl is perfect for battling all types of allergic reactions:

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Rashes
  • Watery, red eyes
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Stuffy nose

While most people use Benadryl for treating allergies, you can also use it to treat motion sickness.

If you have a dog that gets anxious while traveling in the car, Benadryl is a great medication to keep them calm.

Benadryl should be given to a dog early. Most people administer Benadryl to their dogs while they’re experiencing an allergic reaction.

However, Benadryl should be given to a dog before histamines are released. If you wait to treat a dog while they’re suffering from an allergic reaction, it may be too late for it to be completely effective.

Benadryl can be purchased over the counter. That makes it more readily available than Apoquel.

Itchy Skin? Apoquel Alternatives: What Are the Options for an Apoquel Alternative?

When it comes to alternatives, there are plenty of choices out there.

Not all treatments require medication, so if you’re looking for a more natural approach, there are most certainly options for you to consider.

One way to treat your dog’s itchy skin is to take your pooch to see a trained veterinarian homeopath.

A vet homeopath will examine your dog in-depth and will discover not only what’s causing the itching in the first place, but the overall health and well-being of your dog. Their techniques typically involve a series of questions to get to the root of the problem.

A vet homeopath may ask if your dog is thirstier than usual, if they have an abnormal appetite, if they’re more aggressive, etc.

Another way to treat and likely eliminate your dog’s itching problem altogether is to set up an appointment with a vet to perform an allergy elimination program. This approach is non-toxic, and it works for over 90% of its patients.

Of course, there are also alternative medications. Itch Support Gold for Dogs is a drug-free alternative to relieve itchy skin brought on by allergies. It’s fairly affordable, and it has very good ratings.

What this medication can do for your pet:

  • Supports a healthy immune response to allergens
  • Helps the root cause and the symptoms
  • Safe for long-term use, as needed

You can also look at Vet’s Best Seasonal Allergy Relief Dog Supplements. This is a brand made in the USA, and as the name implies, it works well at treating your dog’s allergenic reactions.

What this medication can do for your pet:

  • It’s an all-natural alternative
  • Each bottle is approved by the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC)
  • Offers a balanced remedy
  • Relieves itchy skin

You can find a container that holds 60 chewable tablets on Amazon for an amazingly affordable price.

Apoquel Dosage for Dogs

Weight (lb)

3.6 mg Tablets

5.4 mg Tablets

16 mg Tablets

6.6 – 9.9 lbs


10.0 – 14.9 lbs


15.0 – 19.9 lbs


20.0 – 29.9 lbs


30.0 – 44.9 lbs


45.0 – 53.9



54.0 – 59.9



The dose schedule of Apoquel for your dog should be 0.4 – 0.6 mg/kg twice a day (every 12 hours) for up to 14 days. After this initial two week period, you should reduce the dosage to 0.4 – 0.6 mg/kg once a day.

The FDA has approved the use of this drug for twice a day for 14 days. However, continued use beyond this point at such a high dosage is not approved by the FDA and is not advised in any circumstance.

Apoquel works by suppressing the immune system, thus going over the recommended dosage schedule may result in unforeseen consequences.

For the sake of your dog, follow the recommended dosage schedule like your life depended on it!

Keep in mind that if you underdose your dog, they may not get the beneficial effects from the medicine. It’s recommended that you observe your dog for the first seven days that you administer the medication.

If your dog shows signs of improvement, then continue the treatment. However, if your dog hasn’t indicated any sign of improving, discontinue treatment. It will either work or it won’t.

Apoquel tablets are typically 0.18 to 0.27 mg/lb (0.4 to 0.6 mg/kg). Your dog can take Apoquel with or without a meal.

What are Common Apoquel Side Effects?

As with any medication, there are side effects associated with using Apoquel.

Apoquel may aggravate neoplastic conditions as well as increase your dog’s ability to incur an infection. Other side effects include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased leukocytes
  • Increased lipase and cholesterol
  • New cutaneous or subcutaneous lumps
  • Lethargy
  • Decreased globulins
  • Anorexia

Bony dog showing side effects of using Apoquel

These are just the most common side effects found in dogs taking Apoquel. In rarer instances dogs also experienced:

Rarer still:

  • Polydipsia (extreme thirst)
  • Increased aggression
  • Increased appetite

In many instances, most of the listed detrimental side effects eventually disappear on their own.

Furthermore, these side effects are very similar to the effects that a dog would experience if they were taking steroids. Steroids are classified as anti-inflammatory drugs that help treat mild inflammatory conditions.

Know the Dangers of an Apoquel Overdose or Allergic Reaction

The best way to identify if your dog has overdosed on Apoquel is if they experience any of the aforementioned side effects at an extreme level (i.e. continuous bloody diarrhea, extremely aggressive behavior, terrible ear and skin infections, etc.).

If you suspect that your dog may have overdosed on the medication or is having an allergic reaction, contact your veterinarian ASAP.

You should contact your vet even if you have a slight suspicion. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Preventing Apoquel Side Effects in Dogs

It’s one thing to be able to identify that your dog may be having an adverse reaction to Apoquel, but it’s another to prevent it from happening in the first place.

All side effects from Apoquel can be reduced by taking precautionary measures before administering a dosage.

All dogs should have blood work done before taking Apoquel. This is an especially important step for individuals who own older dogs, as they are more likely to have kidney or liver disease.

Apoquel can be quite toxic to the liver. Therefore, having a chemistry profile and blood count done after the first month, followed by once a year after that, is highly suggested.

Allergic Dermatitis? Apoquel for Sale

Apoquel can only be purchased with a subscription from your vet.

They can also be found on a select few online vendors.  From our research, we’ve found Apoquel is typically sold for around $1.96  per tablet.

Where to Buy Apoquel for Dogs:

Before we explain where you can go to purchase Apoquel, it’s important that you understand that this medication is typically sold by the tablet. Therefore, if you see that the price is $1.96, that refers to the price of a single tablet and not the entire bottle. We know that the distinction can be confusing.

Here is a list of online sites where you can purchase Apoquel:

  • allivet.com
  • 1800petmeds.com
  • Petvaluemart.com

Is Apoquel The Only Way to Help The Pain in Your Dog?

Vets Preferred Premium Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil

Vets Preferred Premium Wild Alaskan is the best of the best when the allergies are in high gear because it:

  • Helps relieve dry, itchy skin → no more excessive itching
  • Moisturizes and soothes your pet’s skin from the inside out → helps achieve a soft, glossy coat
  • Perfect for dogs struggling with seasonal allergies → less itching, runny nose, and overall irritants
  • Acts as a natural anti-inflammatory → desire & ability to be more active

Honest Paws Restore CBD Dog Treats

Dogs itch.

Their digestive health sometimes fails them causing them to be nauseous or unable to eat certain foods. They might be allergic or have skin allergies with dry, itchy skin. Their coats become a little dry due to the fleas and ticks.

If your dog does or has anything of the above, consider Honest Paws Restore CBD Dog Treats.

Honest Paws Restore CBD Dog Treats helps with allergies and the itching. No one should have to endure pain, especially our fur-babies.

With these delicious treats, your pooch has a fighting chance to feel good and lead a happier life.

Besides, most pet owners claim they would die for their dog so surely they will do anything in their power to ease their pain.

Apoquel: An Excellent Treatment Option for Your Dog

No one likes to see their dog constantly itching. It doesn’t matter if your dog is suffering from atopic dermatitis, food allergies, or anything else, itching tends to only make the condition worse.

Plus, no one has the time to clean up all of that loose hair (or stay up all night consoling your pooch).

Apoquel offers a promising solution to relieving itchy dogs by attacking the root of the problem. Don’t let those pesky itches ruin everything all the time. Apoquel can put the itch back in its place!

Disclaimer: This post may contain references to products from one or more of our partnered sites, Honest Paws and Vets Preferred. However, CertaPet content is to be used for educational and informational purposes only. Please seek veterinary advice for your own situation. For more on our terms of use, visit this page

You may also like

June 8, 2021

Great Pyrenees are the type of dog to stop you in your tracks. Their ...

Read More

June 8, 2021

Two breeds have infamously topped the most popular breed list in America for years; ...

Read More

June 8, 2021

Australian Shepherds are consistently one of the most popular breeds in America, especially in ...

Read More

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

All product and Company names are Trademarks™ or Registered® trademarks of their respective holders.

Disclosure: Bear in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase CertaPet.com may earn a commission. Keep in mind that we link these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission we receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.