Apoquel vs Zyrtec: Is Zyrtec or Apoquel Better for Dogs?

Apoquel and Zyrtec are two popular options for treating itchy skin due to allergies, but how do you know which medication to choose? If you’re wondering about the differences between Apoquel vs Zyrtec for dogs, here’s a guide to help you decide.

Zyrtec vs Apoquel for Dogs

Is Zyrtec the same as Apoquel?

Apoquel and Zyrtec are both allergy medications that can be used to control a dog’s itchiness. Zyrtec is an over-the-counter antihistamine that can be purchased in human pharmacies, while Apoquel is a prescription medication that can only be obtained from veterinarians.

While these two medications are chemically different from each other, they provide the same function of relieving the itchiness due to allergies. Both Apoquel and Zyrtec are safe to use in dogs, although they have been known to cause some side effects on occasion.

What is Apoquel used for in dogs?

Apoquel is an oral prescription drug used to treat the itchiness of allergic dermatitis in dogs 12 months of age and older. It relieves itching within 4 hours and reduces it by at least 50 percent in 75 percent of dogs after two weeks. Many pet owners report improvement in their dogs’ symptoms within as little as 30 minutes after administration.

The medication comes in tablet form and is given twice daily for 14 days, then once daily for the next 12 weeks. A veterinarian may then decide if continued therapy is necessary after that time period.

Apoquel (oclacitinib) is an immunosuppressant, and it blocks a specific chemical called interleukin-31, which is transmitting itch to the central nervous system. It can cause side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and anorexia. It should not be used if your dog has any type of infection or cancer.

What is Zyrtec used for in dogs?

Zyrtec, which is the brand name for cetirizine, is an antihistamine that works to block histamine receptors in the body. Histamine is part of an allergic reaction and can cause itching, sneezing, and a runny nose. Zyrtec is used to treat allergies in people, but veterinarians have also prescribed it off-label to help with allergies in pets.

Can dogs take Zyrtec and Apoquel together?

If your dog has allergies and you have been advised to use Apoquel, you may wonder if it is safe for your dog to take Zyrtec and Apoquel together. The short answer is yes. Apoquel and Zyrtec are considered very safe drugs to give together. But there are certain factors to consider before you make the decision.

Apoquel and Zyrtec are not interchangeable. If your vet prescribes Apoquel for your dog’s symptoms, it is best to stick with the prescribed dosage rather than substitute it for Zyrtec.

The side effects of Apoquel include diarrhea and vomiting in some dogs. Zyrtec does not have a lot of side effects but can cause lethargy and tiredness in some dogs. It is important to watch for these side effects if you are administering Apoquel and Zyrtec together.

Your dog may have a higher risk of developing infections while on Apoquel so it is important to monitor any signs of infection such as soreness in areas that were previously injured or healing slowly. If your dog has any of these symptoms while taking both medications then stop using them immediately and seek medical advice from your vet as soon as possible.

Why do vets recommend Apoquel?

Apoquel is typically recommended by veterinarians in cases where more conventional allergy medications have failed. The primary reason Apoquel is so popular among veterinarians is that it provides immediate relief from severe itching and other symptoms of allergies.

Vets report that the majority of their patients experience significant improvement in as little as 4 hours. It also has fewer side effects than the steroid medications prescribed for dogs with allergies, which can cause more serious problems if used long-term. The most common side effect reported by vets is diarrhea, which usually settles itself within a few days.

Is there an alternative to Apoquel for dogs?

Apoquel has been used for many years, and is quite effective for controlling itching, but does have some side effects that make some veterinarians uncomfortable.

Because of those side effects, veterinarians are actively searching for other options to treat itch in dogs. Other treatments include antihistamines, corticosteroids, fatty acid supplements, and Atopica.

Recently a drug called Cytopoint was released and is proving to be very effective at treating the itch with fewer side effects than Apoquel. Cytopoint is an injection that lasts up to 8 weeks.

Cytopoint works by specifically targeting and neutralizing canine interleukin 31 (cIL-31) which is responsible for causing the itch in a dog’s skin. Cytopoint has no known drug interactions and is safe to use with other medications like steroids or antibiotics.

Conclusion of Zyrtec vs Apoquel for dogs

Apoquel has a lot of advantages over Zyrtec and other antihistamines. It is an effective medication for managing itching and inflammation in dogs with chronic allergies, and it is much safer for long-term use than prednisone.

Despite these advantages, there are still several things to keep in mind before deciding if Apoquel is the best treatment for your dog’s allergies.

Apoquel can cost several hundred dollars a year. If your dog’s symptoms are mild enough that an antihistamine will help him feel better, you may be able to get away with Zyrtec or another antihistamine for a few dollars a month instead of paying for Apoquel.

Apoquel has not been tested on dogs under one year of age or pregnant dogs. It should not be used in puppies or pregnant dogs. You should also carefully weigh the risks and benefits before using Apoquel in older dogs with other medical conditions.

In conclusion, Apoquel is a safe and effective medication for treating itching and inflammation in allergic dogs over one year of age. It is more effective than Benadryl and more convenient to use than prednisone.

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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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