Apoquel and Zyrtec for Dogs: All You Need to Know

When our furry friends suffer from allergies, it’s heart-wrenching to see them in discomfort. As pet owners, we are always on the lookout for effective solutions. Two popular medications that have been the talk of the town are Apoquel and Zyrtec. But can they be used together? Are they safe for all dogs?

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FAQs: Apoquel and Zyrtec for Dogs

Understanding Apoquel for Dogs

What is Apoquel? Apoquel is a prescription medication primarily used to treat allergies and associated itching in dogs. It works by suppressing the immune system’s response to allergens, effectively reducing itching and inflammation.

When to Use:

  • Allergic Dermatitis
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Uncontrollable Itching


  • Not suitable for dogs with a history of immune suppression
  • Regular veterinary check-ups are necessary


  • Rapid action, reducing itching within 24 hours
  • Well-tolerated by most dogs

Table: Apoquel Overview

Criteria Apoquel
Rapid Action
Prescription Required
Immune Suppression Risk
Effective for Allergic Conditions

Understanding Zyrtec for Dogs

What is Zyrtec? Zyrtec, or Cetirizine, is an over-the-counter antihistamine used to treat allergies in both humans and dogs. It works by blocking histamine, a substance the body produces during an allergic reaction.

When to Use:

  • Seasonal Allergies
  • Environmental Allergies
  • Mild to Moderate Allergic Reactions


  • Ensure it’s the correct variant (not Zyrtec-D)
  • Consult with a veterinarian for proper dosage


  • Easily accessible
  • Non-prescription
  • Generally well-tolerated

Table: Zyrtec Overview

Criteria Zyrtec
Prescription Required
Suitable for Mild Allergies
Histamine Blocker

Combining Apoquel and Zyrtec

Safety of Combining: While it is generally considered safe to combine Apoquel and Zyrtec for dogs, it is paramount to consult with your veterinarian before proceeding. This ensures that it is a suitable option for your pet’s specific condition and health status.

Key Takeaways:

  • Always consult with a veterinarian before combining medications
  • Monitor your dog for any signs of adverse reactions
  • Each dog is unique; what works for one may not work for another


Navigating the world of pet allergies can be challenging, but with the right knowledge and veterinary support, you can find the most effective and safe treatment for your furry friend. Apoquel and Zyrtec have proven to be beneficial for many dogs suffering from allergies. However, it is crucial to understand their uses, benefits, and precautions to ensure the health and well-being of your pet.

FAQs: Apoquel and Zyrtec for Dogs

Q1: Can Apoquel and Zyrtec be administered together without any side effects?

A: While many veterinarians consider the combination of Apoquel and Zyrtec to be safe for dogs, it’s crucial to understand that each dog’s reaction can vary based on their health status and existing conditions. Monitoring your dog closely for any adverse effects and maintaining regular veterinary check-ups is imperative to ensure their safety.

Q2: How do I determine the right dosage if I decide to give my dog both Apoquel and Zyrtec?

A: Dosage determination requires a precise understanding of your dog’s weight, age, and overall health. For Apoquel, the standard dosage is 0.18 to 0.27 mg per pound of body weight, administered twice daily for up to 14 days, and once daily thereafter. Zyrtec dosages typically range from 0.5 mg per pound once daily for smaller dogs and can go up to 1 mg per pound for larger breeds. It is paramount to seek veterinary advice to establish the correct dosage tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

Q3: Are there any particular breeds that should not take Apoquel or Zyrtec?

A: There is no breed-specific restriction for Apoquel or Zyrtec. However, certain breeds may be more predisposed to allergies and, consequently, may require these medications more frequently. Always consult with a veterinarian to understand the implications for your specific breed and to ensure that the medication is suitable for your dog’s unique health profile.

Q4: What are the potential side effects of Apoquel and Zyrtec in dogs?

A: Apoquel may lead to side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, and, in some rare cases, an increased susceptibility to infections. Zyrtec’s side effects are generally mild but can include drowsiness, excessive salivation, and in some cases, urinary retention. Being vigilant and reporting any unusual symptoms to your veterinarian promptly is crucial for your dog’s safety.

Q5: Can long-term use of Apoquel and Zyrtec cause issues in dogs?

A: Long-term use of Apoquel, being an immunosuppressive drug, could potentially lead to a higher risk of infections and may impact the overall immune response. As for Zyrtec, long-term use is generally considered safe, but it’s vital to maintain regular veterinary check-ups to monitor your dog’s response to the medication and adjust the treatment plan as necessary.

Q6: How quickly can I expect to see improvements in my dog’s allergy symptoms?

A: Apoquel is known for its rapid action, with improvements in allergy symptoms visible within 24 hours of administration. Zyrtec might take a bit longer to show visible results, generally within a few days. The timeframe for improvement depends on the severity of the allergies and your dog’s individual response to the medication.

Q7: Are there any natural alternatives to Apoquel and Zyrtec for treating allergies in dogs?

A: Some pet owners opt for natural alternatives such as omega-3 fatty acid supplements, coconut oil, or probiotics to alleviate mild allergy symptoms. While these alternatives can support skin health and reduce inflammation, they may not provide sufficient relief for severe allergies. Consulting with a veterinarian to explore all available options and ensure a comprehensive approach to your dog’s allergy management is recommended.

Q8: How do I know if my dog’s allergy symptoms are severe enough to require medication?

A: Signs of severe allergies in dogs can include persistent itching, red and inflamed skin, ear infections, and hair loss. If your dog is displaying these symptoms, it’s crucial to seek veterinary advice promptly to diagnose the severity of the allergies and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.

Q9: Can I buy Apoquel and Zyrtec without a prescription?

A: Apoquel is a prescription medication, and its purchase requires a veterinarian’s approval. Zyrtec is available over-the-counter, but it’s highly recommended to consult with a veterinarian before administering it to your dog to ensure it’s the right choice and to establish the correct dosage.

Q10: What should I do if I miss a dose of Apoquel or Zyrtec?

A: If you miss a dose of Apoquel or Zyrtec, administer the medication as soon as you remember. However, if it’s close to the time for the next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and proceed with the regular schedule. Avoid giving a double dose to make up for a missed one, as this could lead to overdosing. Consulting your veterinarian for guidance on how to proceed after a missed dose is always a safe practice.

Q11: Is there any situation in which Apoquel or Zyrtec should absolutely not be administered to a dog?

A: Apoquel should not be used in dogs with a history of cancer, as it can potentially increase the risk of neoplastic conditions. It is also contraindicated in dogs with serious infections or those that are pregnant, lactating, or intended for breeding. Zyrtec, specifically formulations that contain pseudoephedrine, should never be given to dogs as it is toxic to them. Additionally, dogs with known hypersensitivity to antihistamines should avoid Zyrtec. In any case, a veterinarian’s advice is paramount before starting any medication regimen.

Q12: Can a dog overdose on Apoquel or Zyrtec, and what are the signs?

A: Yes, a dog can overdose on either medication. Signs of Apoquel overdose may include increased severity of the known side effects, such as severe gastrointestinal upset, increased susceptibility to infections, and hematological abnormalities. An overdose of Zyrtec could lead to increased heart rate, aggressive behavior, or urinary retention. If you suspect your dog has ingested an overdose of any medication, seek immediate veterinary attention.

Q13: What should I do if my dog experiences side effects from Apoquel or Zyrtec?

A: If your dog exhibits side effects from either Apoquel or Zyrtec, contact your veterinarian right away. They may decide to adjust the dose, switch medications, or discontinue use altogether, depending on the severity of the side effects. Monitoring your dog closely when introducing a new medication and reporting any unusual symptoms promptly is vital for their safety.

Q14: Are there any breeds that are more prone to allergies and might require Apoquel or Zyrtec?

A: Breeds such as Bulldogs, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Boxers, among others, are known to be more predisposed to allergies. However, any dog, regardless of breed, can develop allergies. Consulting with a veterinarian to understand your specific breed’s risks and management strategies is recommended.

Q15: What types of allergies in dogs are typically treated with Apoquel or Zyrtec?

A: Apoquel is often prescribed for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, allergic dermatitis, and contact allergies. Zyrtec is typically used for seasonal allergies and atopic dermatitis. Both medications aim to control itching and inflammation associated with these conditions. However, the choice between them depends on the dog’s specific symptoms, severity of the allergies, and how the dog responds to each medication.

Q16: Can Apoquel or Zyrtec be used as a long-term solution for allergies in dogs?

A: Apoquel is sometimes used as a long-term solution for managing allergies in dogs, but it requires regular monitoring due to potential risks associated with long-term immunosuppression. Zyrtec is generally considered safe for long-term use but, as with any medication, should be used under the guidance of a veterinarian to ensure it remains the best choice for the dog’s specific condition over time.

Q17: How do I transition my dog from one allergy medication to another, or off allergy medications altogether?

A: Transitioning between medications or discontinuing use should be done under the guidance of a veterinarian. They will establish a tailored plan, possibly involving a gradual reduction in dosage, to minimize potential withdrawal symptoms or a resurgence of allergy symptoms.

Q18: What lifestyle changes or home remedies can complement the use of Apoquel or Zyrtec in managing my dog’s allergies?

A: Incorporating regular baths with hypoallergenic shampoos, maintaining a clean living environment free from allergens, offering a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and using air purifiers can help alleviate allergy symptoms. These lifestyle adjustments can work in conjunction to complement the effects of Apoquel or Zyrtec and contribute to the overall well-being of your dog.

Q19: Can I get Apoquel or Zyrtec for my dog from a human pharmacy?

A: While Zyrtec is available over-the-counter at human pharmacies, it’s crucial to consult with a veterinarian for the correct dosage and to ensure it’s suitable for your dog. Apoquel, on the other hand, is a prescription medication and should be obtained through a veterinarian or a pharmacy with a prescription.

Q20: How should I store Apoquel and Zyrtec for dogs?

A: Apoquel should be stored at controlled room temperature, away from light and moisture. Zyrtec should also be kept in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Ensure both medications are kept out of reach of pets and children to prevent accidental ingestion.

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