Does Apoquel Expire?

As responsible pet owners, it’s important to ensure our furry friends are receiving the best care possible, and part of that care includes providing the right medications at the right time. A common medication used for dogs is Apoquel, designed to help manage and alleviate allergic itching. One question that frequently arises is whether Apoquel, like any other medication, expires and if so, what are the implications? This article will explore the lifespan and effectiveness of Apoquel, helping you ensure your pet continues to receive the best treatment.

What is Apoquel?

Apoquel is a veterinary medication, primarily used to provide relief from allergic itching in dogs. This drug, whose scientific name is Oclacitinib, operates by inhibiting the function of certain enzymes that contribute to itchiness and inflammation. However, like all other medicines, Apoquel comes with an expiration date. But what does this mean for its effectiveness and safety?

Does Apoquel Expire?

The short answer is, yes. Apoquel, like other medications, does have an expiration date. This date is not merely a guideline but a guarantee from the manufacturer that the drug will maintain its potency and safety up to that point. It is crucial to remember that the expiration date is based on the drug’s storage in ideal conditions, as specified on the label, typically a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

What Happens Post-Expiration?

As with any medication, after Apoquel expires, its efficacy can reduce over time. This means it may not work as intended or may not work at all, potentially leaving your dog’s allergic symptoms untreated. Besides, the chemical composition of expired medication can change, potentially leading to unexpected side effects. While the likelihood of a harmful effect is typically low, the risk does exist, making it essential to avoid giving expired medications to your pets.

Importance of Fresh Apoquel

Because the effectiveness of Apoquel decreases after its expiration date, it’s crucial to ensure your pet receives fresh medication for optimal treatment outcomes. Using fresh, unexpired Apoquel will provide the intended relief from allergic itching, ensuring your dog’s comfort and health. Plus, you’ll avoid any potential risks that could arise from administering expired medication.

In Conclusion: Always Check the Expiration Date

It is always important to check the expiration date of any medication, including Apoquel, before administering it to your pet. If your current Apoquel supply has expired or is close to its expiration date, contact your vet to secure a new prescription. Your pet’s health is always worth the extra attention to detail, ensuring they receive the most effective and safest treatment possible.

Finally, it’s worth noting that while the cost of Apoquel might seem high, the generic version is anticipated to be available once the patent expires in 2026. This will potentially provide a more affordable option without compromising the quality of care your furry friend receives.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Does Apoquel Last After Opening?

The shelf-life of Apoquel after opening mainly depends on its storage conditions. Keeping it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight, as per the manufacturer’s instructions, is crucial. While specific guidelines might vary, it’s generally advised to use opened Apoquel within a certain timeframe (typically 1-2 months) for optimal efficacy.

2. Can I Give My Dog Half a Dose of Apoquel if it’s Close to Expiry?

Although half-dosing could theoretically prolong the medication’s use before it reaches its expiration date, this isn’t a recommended approach. Administering a half dose of Apoquel may not provide the therapeutic effect needed to alleviate your dog’s symptoms, as the dosage is usually calculated based on your pet’s weight and specific needs. Always adhere to the dosing instructions provided by your vet.

3. Is Expired Apoquel Harmful?

While expired Apoquel isn’t known to be harmful in a direct, toxic sense, its use isn’t advised. The drug’s efficacy can significantly reduce post-expiration, leading to inadequate control of your dog’s symptoms. Additionally, changes in the medication’s chemical composition over time could potentially cause unexpected side effects.

4. How Do I Store Apoquel Properly?

Store Apoquel at controlled room temperature, between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C), with excursions between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C) permitted. Keep it in a secure place, out of reach of children and pets, and away from excessive heat, moisture, and direct sunlight.

5. How Can I Tell If Apoquel Has Gone Bad?

Apart from the expiration date, physical changes may indicate a medication has gone bad. For Apoquel, if you notice any discoloration, a change in smell, or if the tablets appear crumbled or broken, it’s best to consult your vet and refrain from administering the drug.

6. What Should I Do If I Have Expired Apoquel?

If you have expired Apoquel at home, don’t administer it to your pet. Instead, dispose of it properly following your local regulations. Many communities have pharmaceutical take-back programs that ensure safe disposal of expired medications. If you’re unsure about how to do this, consult your vet or local pharmacist for advice.

7. How Often Should I Give My Dog Apoquel?

Apoquel is typically administered twice daily for the first 14 days and then once daily thereafter. However, always follow your vet’s specific instructions regarding the dosing schedule as it may vary based on your dog’s condition and weight.

8. Can Apoquel Be Used Alongside Other Medications?

Yes, Apoquel can be used in conjunction with other medications, including anti-infectives, parasiticides, and allergen immunotherapy. However, you should always inform your vet about any other medications your dog is currently taking to avoid potential drug interactions.

9. What Symptoms Indicate That Apoquel Isn’t Working Anymore?

If your dog continues to exhibit signs of itching, redness, and inflammation despite regular Apoquel use, it might indicate that the medication isn’t working effectively. In such cases, consult your vet to discuss other potential treatment options or adjustments to the current regimen.

10. What Should I Do If I Miss a Dose of Apoquel?

If you miss giving your dog a dose of Apoquel, administer the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed one and continue with the regular schedule. Do not give two doses at once to make up for the missed one.

11. Are There Any Side Effects Associated With Apoquel Use?

Like any medication, Apoquel can have potential side effects. Common side effects may include vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite. If you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms in your pet while on Apoquel, immediately consult your vet.

12. Can I Get a Refund for Unused, Expired Apoquel?

Refund policies vary between pharmacies and veterinary clinics. Some may offer a refund for unused, unexpired medication, but it’s unlikely for expired drugs. Always check with the provider where you purchased the medication for their specific refund policy.

13. Can Apoquel Be Used for Other Animals Besides Dogs?

Apoquel is specifically approved for use in dogs. It is not recommended to administer this medication to other animals unless explicitly directed by a veterinarian. Every species metabolizes drugs differently, and what’s safe for one might be harmful to another.

14. How Soon Can I Expect to See Improvement in My Dog After Starting Apoquel?

Apoquel begins to relieve itch within 4 hours of administration, and controls it within 24 hours. However, overall improvement in your pet’s condition, such as reduced inflammation or skin lesions, might take a few days to weeks depending on the severity of the condition.

15. Are There Alternatives to Apoquel if My Dog Can’t Tolerate it or It’s Not Effective?

Yes, there are several alternatives to Apoquel if it’s not suitable for your dog. These include antihistamines, steroids, cyclosporine, and a monoclonal antibody therapy called Cytopoint. A suitable alternative should be decided upon in consultation with your vet, considering your pet’s overall health, the severity of their condition, and their response to previous treatments.

16. Can I Buy Apoquel Without a Prescription?

No, Apoquel is a prescription-only medication. This means you can only purchase it with a valid prescription from a licensed veterinarian. This ensures that your pet is receiving the right medication at the correct dosage for their specific condition.

17. Can Apoquel Be Used to Treat Other Conditions Besides Allergies?

While Apoquel is primarily used to control itch associated with allergic dermatitis and control manifestations of atopic dermatitis in dogs, it might be used “off-label” to manage other conditions at the discretion of the vet. However, this should only be done under strict veterinary supervision.

18. Can I Cut Apoquel Tablets in Half to Make Them Last Longer?

If your vet has prescribed a half tablet dosage, then yes, you can cut Apoquel tablets. However, cutting tablets to make them last longer is not recommended as it may result in under-dosing. It’s crucial to administer the correct dose as prescribed by your vet for the medication to work effectively.

19. What Should I Do If My Dog Accidentally Ingests More Than the Recommended Dose of Apoquel?

If your dog accidentally ingests more than the prescribed dose of Apoquel, contact your vet or a local emergency vet clinic immediately. Overdose can lead to increased risk of side effects or complications.

20. Is Apoquel Safe for Long-Term Use?

Apoquel is generally considered safe for long-term use in dogs. However, like any medication, long-term use may carry a risk of side effects. Regular check-ups with your vet will ensure any potential issues are detected and managed early.

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