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I first wrote about Apoquel in 2016. Fortunately, I tend to research everything and discontinued it after I read that dogs under one year old (which she was at the time) should never be given Apoquel.
Since then, dog owners have been connecting with each other to share their negative experiences with Apoquel.
I’m also becoming a better dog parent and learning what to look for so I’m sharing what I know so that you can make an informed decision if you are looking at Apoquel for your own dog.
I don’t recall if I was even given the drug insert. It would have been stapled to the bag the pills were placed in.
In case you want to know what it says I’ve copied it below:
Control of Atopic Dermatitis
In a masked field study to assess the effectiveness and safety of oclacitinib for the control of atopic dermatitis in dogs, 152 dogs treated with APOQUEL and 147 dogs treated with placebo (vehicle control) were evaluated for safety. The majority of dogs in the placebo group withdrew from the 112-day study by Day 16.
Adverse reactions reported (and percent of dogs affected) during Days 0-16 included diarrhea (4.6% APOQUEL, 3.4% placebo), vomiting (3.9% APOQUEL, 4.1% placebo), anorexia (2.6% APOQUEL, 0% placebo), new cutaneous or subcutaneous lump (2.6% APOQUEL, 2.7% placebo), and lethargy (2.0% APOQUEL, 1.4% placebo). In most cases, diarrhea, vomiting, anorexia, and lethargy spontaneously resolved with continued dosing.
Dogs on APOQUEL had decreased leukocytes (neutrophil, eosinophil, and monocyte counts) and serum globulin, and increased cholesterol and lipase compared to the placebo group but group means remained within the normal range. Mean lymphocyte counts were transiently increased at Day 14 in the APOQUEL group.
Dogs that withdrew from the masked field study could enter an unmasked study where all dogs received APOQUEL. Between the masked and unmasked study, 283 dogs received at least one dose of APOQUEL.
Of these 283 dogs, two dogs were withdrawn from study due to suspected treatment-related adverse reactions: one dog that had an intense flare-up of dermatitis and severe secondary pyoderma after 19 days of APOQUEL administration, and one dog that developed generalized demodicosis after 28 days of APOQUEL administration.
Two other dogs on APOQUEL were withdrawn from study due to suspected or confirmed malignant neoplasia and subsequently euthanized, including one dog that developed signs associated with a heart base mass after 21 days of APOQUEL administration, and one dog that developed a Grade III mast cell tumor after 60 days of APOQUEL administration.
One of the 147 dogs in the placebo group developed a Grade I mast cell tumor and was withdrawn from the masked study. Additional dogs receiving APOQUEL were hospitalized or diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia (one dog), transient bloody vomiting and stool (one dog), and cystitis with urolithiasis (one dog).
In the 283 dogs that received APOQUEL, the following additional clinical signs were reported after beginning APOQUEL (percentage of dogs with at least one report of the clinical sign as a non-pre-existing finding): pyoderma (12.0%), non-specified dermal lumps (12.0%), otitis (9.9%), vomiting (9.2%), diarrhea (6.0%), histiocytoma (3.9%), cystitis (3.5%), anorexia (3.2%), lethargy (2.8%), yeast skin infections (2.5%), pododermatitis (2.5%), lipoma (2.1%), polydipsia (1.4%), lymphadenopathy (1.1%), nausea (1.1%), increased appetite (1.1%), aggression (1.1%), and weight loss (0.7).
This document wasn’t available to me in 2016 and I’m sharing photo excerpts of it below as well as a link to the document.
Allergies are not fun for your dog nor for you. There is nothing worse than hearing your dog scratch themselves raw. Rashes and infections are troubling and the road to recovery can be long and puzzling.
When my dog Maggie started to have allergies I went the natural route. I’ve written countless articles documenting our journey. Today she’s relatively symptom and allergy-free 95% of the time. She will still break out if she sits too long outside without protection and when she does I can manage her rashes and get it all under control and she will be rash-free between 1 to 3 days.
She does have a lump … it’s benign but I wonder what caused it. Could be genetics. Could be vaccines. Could be the Apoquel or Cytopoint.
Only your vet can give you medical advice. I would ask your vet the following questions:
I healed my dog’s allergies through food. That said every dog will be different and there is no one size fits all approach. There are some basic principles.
Your dog cannot speak for themselves. You have to advocate for them and ask the questions as well as do the research.
What may have worked for my own dog, may not work for yours.
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 backwards.
Be vigilant in keeping a health diary and monitor your dog’s health markers. Track the condition of their:
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.
Dogs Naturally Magazine has written on this previously:
Dr. Will Falcouner has written several articles on Apoquel
Hello, my name is Hannah, and learning about Boston Terriers and canine nutrition has become my life’s work.
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 and Orbit who have both suffered from allergies and yeast infections but are now healthy, thriving and symptom free.