How Long Does It Take for Apoquel to Work?

Oclacitinib (Apoquel) is a JAK inhibitor that is used to treat itching in dogs caused by allergic dermatitis. The onset of action for Apoquel is relatively quick, with clinical improvement typically seen within 24 hours of the first dose. This is significantly faster than traditional oral steroids or cyclosporine, which can take several days to several weeks to show improvement.

In a clinical trial of allergic dermatitis in dogs, 67% of treated dogs had a treatment success after one week of treatment with Apoquel, compared to 29% of dogs treated with a placebo. In dogs with atopic dermatitis, 66% of dogs treated with Apoquel were treated successfully, compared to 4% of placebo-treated dogs.

While Apoquel may provide rapid relief of itching, it is not a cure for the underlying condition. It is intended for use as part of a broader treatment plan, which may include allergen-specific immunotherapy, dietary changes, and flea control measures.

As with any medication, response to Apoquel can vary among individual dogs, and it may take longer for some dogs to show improvement. It is also important to closely monitor the dog’s response to treatment and adjust the dosage or treatment plan as needed.

Why is Apoquel not working for my dog?

Here are some potential reasons why Apoquel may not be working for your dog:

  • Incorrect diagnosis: Apoquel is specifically indicated for the treatment of allergic dermatitis. If your dog’s itching and inflammation is caused by a different condition, such as a bacterial or fungal infection, Apoquel will not be effective. It’s important to have your dog properly diagnosed by a veterinarian before starting any treatment.
  • Underdosing: Apoquel is dosed based on your dog’s weight and the severity of their symptoms. If your dog is not receiving the correct dose, it may not be effective in controlling their itching.
  • Inadequate duration of treatment: Apoquel is intended for short-term use, typically not exceeding 14 days. If treatment is discontinued too soon, it may not have had enough time to work.
  • Concurrent medical conditions: Some medical conditions can affect the effectiveness of Apoquel. For example, if your dog has a liver or kidney disease, it may not be able to metabolize the medication properly.
  • Allergic reaction: In rare cases, dogs may have an allergic reaction to Apoquel. This can cause symptoms such as hives, swelling, and difficulty breathing, which can make the itching worse.

While Apoquel is a highly effective medication in many cases, it may not be the right option for every dog. If you find that Apoquel is not working for your dog, it is important to speak with your veterinarian about alternative treatment options.

When should I not give my dog Apoquel?

Here are some situations where it may not be appropriate to give Apoquel to your dog:

  • Pregnancy and lactation: Apoquel should not be used in dogs that are pregnant or lactating.
  • Immune-mediated diseases: If your dog has an immune-mediated disease, such as lupus or pemphigus, Apoquel may exacerbate the condition and should be avoided.
  • Blood disorders: Apoquel can cause anemia, leukopenia and thrombocytopenia. If your dog has any blood disorders, consult with your veterinarian before giving Apoquel.
  • Infections: Apoquel can suppress the immune system, which can make it more difficult for your dog to fight off infections. If your dog has an active infection, it may not be appropriate to give Apoquel.
  • Liver or kidney disease: Apoquel is metabolized by the liver and kidneys, so if your dog has any pre-existing liver or kidney disease, use of this medication must be evaluated by your veterinarian.
  • Use with other medications: Apoquel may interact with other medications your dog is taking, such as cyclosporine, glucocorticoids, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or antibiotics. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure that it is safe to give Apoquel with any other medications your dog is taking.
  • Long-term use: Apoquel’s long-term safety and efficacy have not been established, and in some cases, it should be avoided if it can be avoided.

What are the side effects of Apoquel?

Potential side effects of Apoquel include:

  • An increase in infection rates: Apoquel suppresses the immune system, which increases the risk of infection. This includes bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
  • Gastrointestinal upset: Some dogs may experience vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite when taking Apoquel.
  • Liver enzymes elevation: In some dogs, Apoquel has been linked to an increase in liver enzymes. This is a reversible change and typically resolves when the drug is discontinued.
  • Anemia: Apoquel may cause a decrease in the number of red blood cells, which can lead to anemia. This is a reversible change and typically resolves when the drug is discontinued.
  • Pancreatitis: Apoquel may cause inflammation of the pancreas, which can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
  • Aggression: Some dogs may experience increased aggression while taking Apoquel.
  • Lymphoma: Long-term use of Apoquel has been linked to an increased risk of lymphoma (a type of cancer) in dogs.

It is important to note that these side effects are rare and most dogs tolerate Apoquel well. However, it is important to monitor your dog for any signs of these side effects and contact your veterinarian if you notice any changes in your dog’s health.

Apoquel vs Cytopoint

Apoquel (oclacitinib) and Cytopoint (lokivetmab) are two drugs that are commonly used to treat itching in dogs. Both of these medications target different pathways to reduce itching and inflammation.

Apoquel is a selective inhibitor of JAK1 and JAK3 enzymes, which are involved in signaling pathways that result in itching and inflammation. By inhibiting these enzymes, cytokines that cause inflammation and itching are halted, particularly interleukin-31 (IL-31). Apoquel is approved by the FDA for use in treating canine allergic dermatitis, including flea allergy dermatitis, food allergy, atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis.

Cytopoint is a monoclonal antibody therapy that targets interleukin-31 (IL-31), a cytokine that plays a key role in itch sensation in dogs. By binding to and neutralizing IL-31, Cytopoint helps to reduce itching in dogs with atopic dermatitis or allergic skin disease. Cytopoint is administered as a subcutaneous injection every 4-8 weeks, depending on the severity of the itching.

Both Apoquel and Cytopoint have been shown to be effective in treating itching in dogs. However, there are a few key differences between the two drugs.

Apoquel is an oral medication that is given twice daily. It can start to provide relief from itching within a few hours, and the effects can last for up to 24 hours. It is typically used as a short-term treatment for acute itching, but can also be used as a long-term treatment for chronic itching.

Cytopoint, on the other hand, is an injectable medication that is given every 4-8 weeks. It takes a bit longer to start working (up to 24-48 hours) and the effects can last for up to 8 weeks. It is typically used as a long-term treatment for chronic itching.

Apoquel can have some side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite. Cytopoint, on the other hand, has a lower risk of side effects, but there is a risk of an allergic reaction at the injection site.

In terms of cost, Cytopoint is generally more expensive than Apoquel. The cost of Cytopoint varies depending on the size of the dog and the dose required, but it can range from $50-$200 per injection. Apoquel, on the other hand, typically costs around $2.7 per tablet.

Ultimately, the choice between Apoquel and Cytopoint will depend on the individual dog’s condition and needs. Both drugs are effective, but they work in different ways and have different dosing schedules and side effect profiles. Your veterinarian will be able to help you determine which medication is best for your dog.

Is there an alternative to Apoquel for dogs?

Here are some alternative options for treating itching and inflammation in dogs:

  • Cyclosporine: This immunosuppressive drug is often used to treat atopic dermatitis in dogs. It works by inhibiting the production of certain inflammatory chemicals in the body. It can be administered orally or topically.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: These anti-inflammatory supplements can be added to a dog’s diet to help reduce itching and inflammation. Fish oil is a common source of omega-3s.
  • Allergen-specific immunotherapy (ASIT): This treatment involves administering small amounts of the allergens that are causing the itching to the dog over time. This helps to build up the dog’s tolerance to the allergens.
  • Antihistamines: These drugs can be used to block the effects of histamine, a chemical that causes itching and inflammation. Examples include diphenhydramine and cetirizine.
  • Topical therapy: Some dogs may benefit from the use of medicated shampoos, sprays, or creams to help alleviate itching and inflammation.

Conclusion of Apoquel for dogs

Pros:

  • Apoquel is a selective inhibitor of JAK1 and JAK3 enzymes, which are important in signaling a pathway that results in itching and inflammation. By inhibiting these enzymes, cytokines that result in inflammation and itching are halted, particularly interleukin-31 (IL-31).
  • In clinical trials, Apoquel was found to be effective in treating canine allergic dermatitis, including flea allergy dermatitis, food allergy, atopic dermatitis and contact dermatitis.
  • Apoquel has been shown to be more effective than other treatments such as oral prednisolone and injectable dexamethasone.
  • The drug may be used as an alternative to long-term corticosteroids, which can have negative effects on the body.

Cons:

  • Apoquel can have side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite.
  • The drug has been linked to an increased risk of infection, and it is not recommended for use in dogs with pre-existing infections.
  • Apoquel can interact with other medications, and it is important to inform your veterinarian of any other medications your dog is taking before starting treatment.
  • The long-term safety and efficacy of Apoquel is not yet known, and further research is needed.

Side effects:

  • Apoquel is known to cause side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, and decreased appetite.
  • The drug has been linked to an increased risk of infection, and it is not recommended for use in dogs with pre-existing infections.

Toxicity:

  • Apoquel is well tolerated by most dogs, with few reported cases of toxicity.
  • However, the long-term safety and efficacy of Apoquel is not yet known, and further research is needed.

Drug interactions:

  • Apoquel can interact with other medications, and it is important to inform your veterinarian of any other medications your dog is taking before starting treatment.

Contraindications:

  • Apoquel is not recommended for use in dogs with pre-existing infections.

Research and study:

  • While Apoquel has been found to be effective in treating canine allergic dermatitis, further research is needed to fully understand its long-term safety and efficacy.

Natural or OTC veterinary alternatives:

  • Some natural and over-the-counter alternatives for treating itching in dogs include omega-3 fatty acid supplements, coconut oil, aloe vera, and oatmeal baths. Consult your veterinarian before using any alternative treatment options.
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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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