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Cytopoint and Apoquel Alternatives

  • August 1, 2021
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Cytopoint and Apoquel Alternatives

I was recently asked what I did to wean my dog off Apoquel.  

This question came from a reader who said his dog had been on it for a while and didn’t know at this point if there were alternatives for his dog.

With Maggie, she wasn’t on Apoquel longer than a month. So it was easy to stop it when I noticed it wasn’t as effective in reducing her itch as well as learning what was in Apoquel.  

The following advice I give is to share what I would do if I were in your case, and how I would handle allergies, from a canine nutritionist’s point of view.  

Contact a Holistic Vet

I would recommend that you work with a holistic vet if your goal is to find a natural alternative to Apoquel. If you don’t have one in your area, you can work with one remotely.

I recommend Dr. Judy Jasek who you can reach at:

Although I have personally never worked with her, she comes highly recommended by my peers.  

If You Stop Apoquel Cold Turkey, It Could Make The Itch Worse

Dogs end up becoming dependent on Apoquel. Apoquel does a great job in turning the itch off. It’s an immune suppressant, and it does its job well.  

Stopping it without a backup plan, could cause your dog’s itchy symptoms and rashes to come back with a vengeance. 

A holistic vet can suggest a plan supporting the immune system while also working with you to get your dog’s microbiome back in balance.  

Your holistic vet will also give you a way to taper off the Apoquel as your dog’s immune system gets stronger.

Strengthen The Immune System and Gut Microbiome First

You want to get help your dog’s body becomes stronger again so that it doesn’t need all the medication. By strengthening their immune system, it will be better equipped to handle allergy triggers.

Through real, whole food their gut microbiome will also be more in balance and be able to handle inflammation better.

Cytopoint and Apoquel Alternatives
Cytopoint and Apoquel Alternatives

As A Certified Canine Nutritionist, My Approach Through Food Would Be The Following: 

I would absolutely stop the kibble you are feeding. Kibble is highly processed, and even though a dog can survive on kibble, it doesn’t mean a dog can thrive on kibble.

I also am opposed to how they use rendered meat.

Just ask your vet next time how many dogs on Apoquel or Cytopoint are also eating a kibble diet. My guess is that almost all the dogs will be eating a dry-processed kibble diet, and very few will be on a fresh whole food diet.  

I would then recommend you put your dog on a raw diet. There are three ways to do this: Buy ready-made grinds from your local pet store, have it delivered to you or make it yourself. 

Two brands you can find at your boutique pet stores are Bones & Co and Answer’s Pet Food. The only thing to point out is Answers “ferments” their meat and some dogs do not do well on fermented meat. My dog Orbit reacts to fermented meat so Answer’s was not a solution for her.

You can also get raw food delivered. Two options are through Darwins and Raw Food Dog and Co.  

In both examples above, you probably don’t have to add anything to the grind other than extra raw fish and possibly a vegetable topper from Green Juju.  

Your third option would be to make it yourself. This will be the least expensive route. I make my dog’s food and when you use a base mix, it takes all the guesswork out in making sure it’s nutritionally dense.

Cytopoint and Apoquel Alternatives

What Would a Commercial Raw Food Transition Look Like For a Dog That Has Allergies?

Week 1  

Feed your dog one pasture-raised scrambled (in some coconut or olive oil) 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). You can add this egg to their kibble. Reduce their kibble by a tablespoon when you do so.  

Week 2

Feed your dog one pasture-raised raw (in some coconut or olive oil) 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). You can add this egg to their kibble. Reduce their kibble by a tablespoon when you do so. 

Week 3

Feed your dog a grind that has only one type of protein. Make sure the grind has meat, organ and bone.  

Feed that one type of protein for half of the week and then try a different protein blend.  

What you are trying to do is ensure that your dog doesn’t react to the protein.  

Week 4

I’d introduce two more protein blends. Again, feed only one type for half of the week and the other type for the other half of the week.   

Watch their skin, coat, and stools. If stools are consistently firm and no rashes develop.

Week 5

Introduce small oily fish which I detail in the DIY transition below.  

DISCLOSURE: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means that if you click on a product link, I may receive compensation. This compensation comes at no additional cost to you, and as always I only recommend products I have tried and trust. Maggielovesorbit, Ilovebostons is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

What Would A DIY Raw Food Diet Look Like For A Dog That Has Allergies?

I would not rush your dog into a full DIY. I would take some time to build up the enzymes they need in their stomach.  

A general timeline would look as follows:

Week 1  

Feed your dog one pasture-raised scrambled (in some coconut or olive oil) 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday). You can add this egg to their kibble. Reduce their kibble by a tablespoon when you do so.  

Week 2

Feed your dog one pasture-raised raw (in some coconut or olive oil) 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday). You can add this egg to their kibble. Reduce their kibble by a tablespoon when you do so. 

Introduce some organ meat. For a 20 pound dog, they need no more than .15 oz. Which is approximately a teaspoon.  

You can buy raw calf or beef liver from most grocery stores. I would freeze it partially (easier to slice that way) and then cut it up and then put each portion in a small sandwich bag. If you feed it raw, feed one teaspoon portion with every meal.  

An easier option would be to sign up for a Real Dog Box subscription because each box always has organ meat. I prefer to feed air-dried organ meat when it’s available to me because it’s just plain easier. If you go this route, give a quarter-sized portion with every meal. “Quarter” refers to a coin so a portion that is the size of a quarter coin (as opposed to a quarter of the bag of treats).  

Week 3

Continue what you were doing in week two and introduce some raw meat.  

I prefer to start off with turkey or beef. I would feed it raw. Don’t worry about your dog’s bowl not having a lot of variety – during this part of the transition. You’re just making sure your dog doesn’t react to the protein you are feeding.  

Whatever protein you feed – switch it out after 3 1/2 days. So feed beef for three days, and then feed turkey for three 1/2 days.  

Make sure you are including the organ with every meal, and egg three times a week.  

Watch their skin, coat and stools. If stools are consistently firm, and no rashes develop you’re able to continue to more protein choices.  

If not, try to figure out and eliminate the protein that might be causing a reaction.   

This is the week you can start to add in a Base Mix. I love Dr. Harvey’s base mix because it contains fiber (all the vegetables), immune support (milk thistle and goat’s milk and mushroom powder).  

For a 20 pound dog, you would mix in just under half of the red cup that it comes with – in half a cup of very warm water.   

You then mix this into the meat, and serve.  

Week 4

It’s time to try two more proteins, such as lamb and pork.  

Chicken tends to be my least favorite protein to recommend unless you’re feeding organic pasture-raised chicken.  

As in week 3, feed each protein for half of the week and switch to the other protein.  

You also need to start adding in another secreting organ (kidney or spleen) 

And as before, watch their skin, coat, and stools. If stools are consistently firm and no rashes develop, you’re able to continue to more protein choices.  

If not, try to figure out and eliminate the protein that might be causing a reaction.   

As before, make sure you’re utilizing a base mix such as Raw Vibrance to ensure that your meal is nutritionally dense.  

Week 5

Now that you know what meat/protein your dog can have, you can introduce fish.  

I recommend you feed fish raw. You can feed:

  • Sardines
  • Capelin
  • Salmon
  • Cod
  • Smelt
  • Sprat
  • Mackerel 

Remember that box of treats from Real Dog Box? It also contains a seafood option in your box. I typically use what is in the box in addition to the raw food I feed. 

I buy my salmon from Costco (wild-caught), and I get my other seafood from my local 99 Ranch Market. I ask them to clean and cut it for me. When I get it home, I cut it up into smaller pieces. I feed about .8 oz for every meal, which is roughly a tablespoon size. You can get a scale to make sure the portion is correct.  

Fish contain Omega 3 which is fantastic for dogs with allergies. The omega 3 will be more bioavailable when it’s raw.  

I add fish to every meal.  

By Week 5 your dog’s bowl for a 20-pound dog will include:

  • Meat (3 oz)
  • Fish (.8oz). I also add two blue mussels (cooked) to every meal for manganese and zinc
  • Liver (.15 oz)
  • A different organ (spleen or kidney – .15 oz)
  • Raw Vibrance mix

If you want to see what my foundation recipe for raw looks like, click HERE. 

Commercial Pre-Made Raw vs. DIY Raw Meals

Initially, the allergy tests showed that my dogs had a variety of food intolerances to almost every protein.  

As a result, I went the DIY route because then I could very intentionally introduce each meat and monitor how they did. It takes more work but it’s more precise in being able to identify allergic reactions.  

Commercial Pre-made is easier, but it also costs a little bit more. If your dog is small, the cost won’t be high but if your dog is larger, it can get expensive quickly. 

Supplements I Add For A Dog With Allergies

If you are:

  • Rotating protein every half a week
  • Rotating fish every week
  • Rotating organ (liver and secreting) at least 3 times a month

Basically feeding variety then your dog should be getting all of their nutrients from their food.  

That said, there are seven supplements I love to add: 

Annual Bloodwork – Test Before You Supplement

There are other synthetic supplements that other raw or home cookers like to add such as spirulina, zinc, vitamin D, magnesium, manganese, calcium etc.

My stance on this is to test your dog before your supplement. And to find whole food sources first. If you must supplement look for the natural form of that vitamin or mineral.

I get my dog’s complete bloodwork done and also ask to test for Vitamin D, B12 and magnesium. So far their test results look fantastic. I have been cooking for 3 years and raw 1 year.

Test Your Dog’s Biome

For dogs who have severe allergies it’s a good idea to also get your dog’s biome tested.

You can use Animal Biome to run the tests. They will give you recommendations as to which prebiotics and probiotic strains to add to your dog’s diet and also …. in a severe case you can do a fecal matter transplant.

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Protecting Your Dog’s Skin And Coat

Maggie suffers from environmental allergies, atopic dermatitis, and flea bite reactions. Here are the tactics that work with her:

What To Do If Your Dog Has Hot Spots

Once a year without fail Maggie will also break out in a hot spot. This year it was in her armpit. I did the following hot spot protocol and she was healed in under a week:

  1. Shampooed her to treat her hot spot. This shampoo doesn’t have any harsh chemicals.
  2. Her hot spot was moist and weepy so I used Malacetic wipes once a day to clean her hot spot.
  3. I applied Manuka Honey to the hot spot in the morning and evening.
  4. I kept her in a T-shirt that covered her armpits so that she could not lick off the Manuka Honey.

What To Do If Your Dog’s Belly Is Covered In A Red Rash

  1. Shampoo with a natural based shampoo. I like the one by True Blue.
  2. Make sure your dog’s nails are not sharp. Grind the down every week or every 5 days depending on how fast they grow.
  3. Apply a collodial silver based spray on the rash.
  4. Either keep a shirt on your dog so they can’t scratch their rashy belly or have them wear a donut so that they can’t lick their belly.
  5. At night apply a light dusting of talc free powder.
  6. I like the Hello Bello powder which is talc free, scent free and made from organic products. I noticed my dog’s do best when I keep their rashes as dry as possible

Keep Your Dog’s Teeth And Gums Healthy

Good dental health leads to a healthier immune system. If they have plaque and tartar build-up, it will be absorbed into their bloodstream and cause inflammation.  

You can feed spongey raw bones and chews to help keep their teeth clean. 

Do not feed greenies or any chews that look like greenies they are extremely unhealthy and loaded with synthetic preservatives.  

Cytopoint and Apoquel Alternatives

Don’t Over Vaccinate

Be mindful in the vaccines you approve.  

  • Make sure you only get shots one at a time. Bundling makes it hard to see which shot your dog reacted to. 
  • Ask for titers first. 

Keep Your Dog’s Nails Clean

If your dog has dirty nails, they can infect themselves with a staph infection if they are using their back legs to scratch themselves.  

If you’re rinsing your dog’s paws out daily this won’t be an issue. Make sure you trim and keep their nails short. I use a home grinder and work on their nails every weekend.  

Treat Your Yard Naturally

I spray my yard with Cedarcide once a month. And use Nemotodes every spring.

Let Your Dog’s Health Markers Guide You 

The journey to bring your dog back to health will be a long one.  

There are days when you will celebrate less itch and fewer rashes but there will be days it seems you took a step backward.  

Be vigilant in keeping a health diary and monitor your dog’s health markers. Track the condition of their:

  • Coat
  • Eyes
  • Stool
  • Energy
  • Behavior

Ultimately, your dog’s health markers will give you a clear indication of whether or not you are on the right path. 

Let your dog and their health determine what’s best for them.  

Thank you for reading this far, dear friends. To your own dog’s health and happiness. Best of luck in your information-seeking journey.

Read the resources below to learn more about Apoquel and Cytopoint. As well as my articles on allergies and food.  









Hannah Zulueta and her two dogs Maggie and Orbit

Hello, my name is Hannah, and learning about Boston Terriers and canine nutrition has become my life’s work. 

First and foremost I am a dog owner, a Boston Terrier breed enthusiast, and a seeker of the truth.

As a certified Canine Nutritionist, I turn to food to keep my dogs vibrant and healthy and prefer to raise them and myself naturally.

I started this blog because there isn’t enough space to write on our Instagram.

My mission is to equip Boston Terrier owners and dog owners alike with the knowledge I have so that your dog will live a longer life and better health.

I have two dogs.  Maggie is my socially awkward one; which I find highly relatable because I am completely out of place in large groups myself.  And Orbit is the freebird. She used to have terrible allergies but since she started eating fresh food she’s been symptom-free.

Cytopoint and Apoquel Alternatives
By, August 1, 2021
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