Is Cytopoint Safer Than Apoquel?

Canine atopic dermatitis, a prevalent and chronic skin disease in dogs, can be a significant cause of concern for pet owners and veterinarians. Over the years, medications such as Cytopoint and Apoquel have made considerable strides in managing this condition. But the question arises, which one is safer?

Understanding Cytopoint and Apoquel

Before delving into the safety aspects, let’s understand these two widely used treatments.

Cytopoint, a biological therapy, functions by neutralizing a specific protein (Interleukin-31) that triggers itchiness in dogs. On the other hand, Apoquel, a small molecule inhibitor, works by interrupting the pathway that results in itching and inflammation.

Safety Profile of Cytopoint

Cytopoint has been deemed remarkably safe, with minimal reported side effects. As a biological therapy, it closely mimics the body’s natural immune response. This therapeutic approach means it is less likely to interfere with other bodily functions, reducing the risk of adverse reactions.

Furthermore, Cytopoint is suitable for younger animals and can be used concurrently with other treatments, giving it an advantageous safety profile.

Apoquel’s Safety Considerations

Apoquel, too, has been considered safe for dogs with a low incidence of side effects. However, the systemic nature of its action may potentially lead to a wider range of side effects compared to Cytopoint, especially with long-term use.

It’s important to note that Apoquel should not be used in dogs less than 12 months of age or in dogs with serious infections, demodicosis, or neoplasia, as it could have immunosuppressive effects.

Side-Effects: A Comparative View

While both drugs have few reported side effects, Cytopoint’s are generally fewer and milder due to its targeted mode of action. Apoquel, although typically well-tolerated, has been linked with potential side effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and lethargy.

Efficacy and Convenience: Balancing Safety and Effectiveness

Both Cytopoint and Apoquel have shown excellent efficacy in managing the symptoms of atopic dermatitis. However, they have different methods of administration, which may affect a pet owner’s choice.

Cytopoint is administered as a monthly injection by a veterinarian, which may be more convenient for pet owners who struggle with giving oral medication. Apoquel, meanwhile, is a daily oral tablet, providing more flexibility for adjusting dosage or discontinuing treatment if necessary.

Final Thoughts: Is Cytopoint Safer than Apoquel?

From the analysis, it’s evident that both drugs have a solid safety profile, but Cytopoint might have a slight edge due to its targeted action, suitability for younger animals, and lesser side effects. However, the choice between Cytopoint and Apoquel should ultimately depend on the individual dog’s needs, age, overall health status, and the pet owner’s preferences.

Always remember, any treatment plan should be discussed thoroughly with a trusted veterinarian. Each dog is unique, and what works best for one may not be ideal for another. Here’s to happy, itch-free days for our canine companions!


Is Cytopoint better than Apoquel?

Both Cytopoint and Apoquel are effective treatments for canine atopic dermatitis. While Cytopoint may have fewer side effects, the choice between the two depends on the individual dog’s needs and the pet owner’s preferences.

Are there any downsides to Cytopoint injections?

While Cytopoint is generally considered safe, some dogs may experience mild side effects such as lethargy or decreased appetite. However, these are typically transient and resolve on their own.

Is Cytopoint safe for long-term use?

Yes, Cytopoint is considered safe for long-term use. Its targeted action and biological nature make it a suitable choice for managing chronic conditions like atopic dermatitis.

Does Cytopoint affect a dog’s immune system?

No, Cytopoint does not have a broad effect on the immune system. It specifically targets and neutralizes Interleukin-31, a protein that triggers itchiness, without significantly affecting other immune system functions.

Does Apoquel have any long-term side effects?

While Apoquel is generally considered safe for long-term use, it may have potential side effects. These can include but are not limited to gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, and potential effects on the immune system. There have also been isolated cases of increased susceptibility to infections, and rarely, the occurrence of skin tumors. It’s crucial to monitor your dog’s health and report any changes to your vet.

How quickly does Cytopoint work?

Cytopoint typically begins working within 1-2 days after the injection, with maximum effectiveness usually reached by 7 days. Its impact is generally noticeable as a reduction in itchiness and an overall improvement in skin condition.

Can Cytopoint and Apoquel be used together?

Yes, Cytopoint and Apoquel can be used together under the supervision of a veterinarian. This approach could be beneficial in some cases, such as during severe flare-ups of atopic dermatitis when rapid and robust control of itching and inflammation is needed.

Are there alternatives to Cytopoint and Apoquel?

Yes, several alternatives exist, including corticosteroids, other immunosuppressive drugs like Atopica (cyclosporine), and allergen-specific immunotherapy. However, these alternatives may have their own limitations and side effects. Newer drugs like IL-31 receptor antagonists are also emerging. The best choice will depend on your dog’s specific needs, and the cost, efficacy, and side effect profiles of the treatments.

Can dogs build a resistance to Apoquel or Cytopoint?

While it’s not common, there have been isolated reports of decreased effectiveness over time with Apoquel. However, this is not typically the case with Cytopoint. Given its unique mode of action as a biological therapy, resistance is unlikely to develop.

Are there any dietary considerations when using Apoquel or Cytopoint?

Both Apoquel and Cytopoint can be administered without regard to meals. However, for dogs with food allergies contributing to their atopic dermatitis, a hypoallergenic or elimination diet may be recommended by your veterinarian.

Is it safe to discontinue Apoquel or Cytopoint suddenly?

As both drugs are used to manage symptoms rather than cure the underlying condition, discontinuation might result in a return of the dog’s itchiness and other symptoms. However, sudden discontinuation does not typically lead to withdrawal symptoms. Any changes in medication should always be discussed with your vet.

How cost-effective are Cytopoint and Apoquel?

The cost-effectiveness of Cytopoint and Apoquel may vary based on factors like the severity of the dog’s condition, the geographical location, and individual veterinary pricing. While Apoquel is a daily oral tablet, Cytopoint is a monthly injection, which may impact the overall cost.

Can my dog have allergic reactions to Cytopoint or Apoquel?

While rare, allergic reactions to any medication, including Cytopoint and Apoquel, can occur. Symptoms could include hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. If you notice any of these signs, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Does age or breed affect the safety of Apoquel or Cytopoint?

Both medications can be safely used in many breeds. However, Apoquel is not recommended for dogs under 12 months of age, whereas Cytopoint can be used in dogs of any age. Always discuss with your vet the best treatment options considering your dog’s age, breed, and overall health condition.

Does the size or weight of my dog affect the dosage of Cytopoint or Apoquel?

Yes, the dosage of both Cytopoint and Apoquel depends on the weight of your dog. For Apoquel, the dose is generally 0.4 to 0.6 mg/kg, administered orally, twice daily for up to 14 days, then once daily thereafter. For Cytopoint, the dosage is usually 2-3.5 mg/kg given by subcutaneous injection, typically once a month or as prescribed by your vet.

How do Cytopoint and Apoquel work?

Cytopoint is a monoclonal antibody, specifically designed to target and neutralize the canine interleukin-31 (IL-31), a key itch-inducing cytokine in dogs. By neutralizing IL-31, Cytopoint breaks the itch-scratch cycle.

Apoquel, on the other hand, works differently. It is a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor that blocks the action of pruritogenic cytokines, which are involved in the itching sensation, and pro-inflammatory cytokines that contribute to inflammation and allergic responses.

How long should my dog stay on Apoquel or Cytopoint?

The length of treatment depends on your dog’s condition and response to therapy. Some dogs may require these medications for a short period, while others with chronic conditions may need long-term or even lifelong treatment. Regular vet check-ups will help assess the ongoing need for these medications and adjust dosages if necessary.

What should I do if I miss a dose of Apoquel or a Cytopoint injection?

If you miss an Apoquel dose, give it as soon as you remember. If it’s near the time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with the regular schedule. Do not double up the doses.

For missed Cytopoint injections, schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as possible to administer the missed dose. Cytopoint is usually given monthly, but the schedule can sometimes be adjusted based on your dog’s needs.

Are there any contraindications for Apoquel or Cytopoint?

Apoquel is not recommended for dogs with serious infections, or for puppies under 12 months. It should also be used with caution in dogs with pre-existing cancers. Cytopoint has fewer contraindications, but as always, the dog’s overall health status should be considered. It’s crucial to discuss your dog’s medical history with your vet before starting any new medication.

Will my dog need regular testing while on Apoquel or Cytopoint?

Regular veterinary check-ups are important for all dogs, especially those on chronic medications. While Cytopoint does not typically require regular lab monitoring, dogs on Apoquel may benefit from periodic blood tests to check liver and kidney function.

Is it okay to switch between Apoquel and Cytopoint?

Yes, it’s generally safe to switch between these two medications, but this should always be done under the guidance of your vet. Some dogs may respond better to one medication than the other, and sometimes, the two can be used together for better management of severe symptoms.

Can Apoquel or Cytopoint interact with other medications?

Apoquel is not known to have any major interactions with other commonly used veterinary drugs. Cytopoint, being a biological agent and not metabolized by the liver, is also not expected to have interactions with other medications. However, always inform your vet about any other medications, supplements, or over-the-counter drugs your dog is taking.

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