Does Apoquel Cause Weight Gain?

When it comes to our furry friends’ health, every pet parent wants the best. Apoquel, a popular medication used to treat itching and inflammation in dogs, has been a game-changer for many. But with its increasing use, some concerns have surfaced, leaving pet owners questioning: Does Apoquel cause weight gain in dogs?

What is Apoquel?

Before jumping into the weight gain debate, let’s understand what Apoquel is. Apoquel (oclacitinib) is a medication that helps to control itching and inflammation due to allergic skin diseases in dogs. It works by modulating the immune system, reducing the itch and giving your furry friend much-needed relief.

Apoquel and Weight Gain: The Connection

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: Does Apoquel lead to weight gain in dogs? There have been reports and discussions among pet owners regarding this issue, but what does the data say?

Aspect Apoquel Connection
Direct Link to Weight Gain
Modulation of Appetite
Impact on Activity Levels
Influence on Metabolism
Association with Other Symptoms (e.g., Lethargy) ✔️

As shown in the table chart, there is no direct evidence linking Apoquel to weight gain in dogs. The medication works by modulating the immune system, and none of its known mechanisms directly influence weight, appetite, or metabolism. However, it’s important to note that while Apoquel itself may not cause weight gain, its influence on other symptoms like lethargy could indirectly contribute to weight changes.

Key Takeaways

1. No Direct Link

Apoquel does not have a direct connection to weight gain in dogs. Its primary function is to control itching and inflammation.

2. Monitor Overall Health

While using Apoquel, monitoring your dog’s overall health is crucial. Pay attention to any changes in appetite, activity levels, and weight.

3. Consult with Your Vet

If you notice any adverse reactions or changes in your dog’s health while on Apoquel, consult with your veterinarian immediately.

4. Individual Reactions Vary

Just like humans, every dog is different. What works for one may not work for another. It’s important to have open communication with your vet to find the best treatment plan for your pet.


In summary, while Apoquel has been a revolutionary medication for treating itching and inflammation in dogs, it is not directly linked to weight gain. As a responsible pet owner, keeping an eye on your dog’s overall health and consulting with your vet will ensure that your furry friend stays happy, healthy, and itch-free. Don’t let myths and misconceptions cloud your judgment; stay informed and make the best choices for your canine companion.

Further Reading and Resources

For more information on Apoquel and its effects on dogs, visit Zoetis, the official manufacturer of Apoquel. Additionally, the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine offers resources and a platform for reporting any adverse reactions (FDA CVM).

FAQs: Apoquel

Q1: What Specific Conditions Does Apoquel Treat in Dogs?

Apoquel is primarily prescribed to treat allergic dermatitis, which includes conditions like atopic dermatitis and allergic reactions to fleas. These conditions can cause severe itching, leading to constant scratching and skin inflammation.

Q2: How Quickly Does Apoquel Start Working?

One of the advantages of Apoquel is its rapid action. Typically, it starts to alleviate itching within 4 hours and controls it within 24 hours. This swift response helps to improve your dog’s quality of life significantly.

Q3: Are There Any Breeds That Should Not Take Apoquel?

Apoquel is generally safe for most dog breeds. However, it is not recommended for dogs less than 12 months old, pregnant or lactating bitches, or dogs with serious infections. Always consult your veterinarian to determine if Apoquel is the right choice for your specific breed and their unique health situation.

Q4: Can Apoquel Be Used Alongside Other Medications?

Apoquel has not been evaluated for use with glucocorticoids, cyclosporine, or other systemic immunosuppressive agents. It is crucial to discuss with your veterinarian any other medications your dog is taking to ensure there are no potential interactions.

Q5: What Should I Do If My Dog Accidentally Ingests an Extra Dose?

Apoquel should be kept in a secure location to prevent accidental ingestion. If your dog consumes an extra dose, contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal poison control center immediately.

Q6: What Are the Known Side Effects of Apoquel?

Common side effects of Apoquel include vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, and lethargy. While many of these side effects resolve with continued dosing, it is vital to monitor your dog and report any prolonged or severe symptoms to your veterinarian.

Q7: How Should Apoquel Be Stored?

Apoquel should be stored at controlled room temperature, away from moisture and light. Ensure it is out of reach of children and animals.

Q8: What Are the Long-term Effects of Using Apoquel?

Long-term use of Apoquel requires regular monitoring by a veterinarian. Some dogs may experience an increased susceptibility to infections or exacerbation of neoplastic conditions. It’s crucial to weigh the benefits and risks and have regular check-ups to ensure your dog’s health and safety.

Q9: Is There a Specific Diet or Lifestyle Change Recommended When a Dog Is on Apoquel?

While there is no specific diet or lifestyle change required, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise can contribute to your dog’s overall well-being and potentially mitigate some of the risks associated with long-term medication use.

Q10: How Can I Report an Adverse Reaction to Apoquel?

If you suspect your dog is having an adverse reaction to Apoquel, contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also report the adverse event to the FDA at 1-888-FDA-VETS or online at FDA Report Animal AE. Additionally, you can contact Zoetis, the manufacturer of Apoquel, at 1-888-963-8471 or visit their website.

Q11: Can Apoquel Affect My Dog’s Behavior?

Apoquel primarily targets pathways in the immune system to alleviate itching and inflammation. While it is not known to directly impact behavior, any change in a pet’s comfort can influence their demeanor. If you notice significant behavioral changes while your dog is on Apoquel, it’s important to discuss this with your veterinarian to rule out any other potential causes or complications.

Q12: How Does Apoquel Compare to Steroids for Treating Allergies?

Steroids are another common treatment for allergies in dogs, known for their powerful anti-inflammatory effects. However, they can have more severe side effects, especially with long-term use, including weight gain, increased thirst and hunger, and a weakened immune system. Apoquel offers a more targeted approach, aiming to control itching with fewer systemic effects, making it a safer option for long-term management in many cases.

Q13: Are There Any Natural Alternatives to Apoquel?

Some pet owners prefer to explore natural remedies for allergies, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which can have anti-inflammatory properties, or probiotics to support a healthy gut flora. While these options might help alleviate mild symptoms or work as adjunctive therapy, they might not provide sufficient relief for severe allergic reactions. Always consult with your veterinarian before trying natural or over-the-counter products to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your pet’s condition.

Q14: How Do I Know If Apoquel Is the Right Choice for My Dog?

Choosing the right medication for your dog depends on various factors, including the severity and type of allergies, age, breed, and overall health status. A thorough examination and discussion with your veterinarian can help determine whether Apoquel, or another treatment option, is the most suitable and safe choice for managing your dog’s allergies.

Q15: What Are the Signs That Apoquel Is Working?

The most noticeable sign that Apoquel is working is a significant reduction in itching and associated behaviors such as scratching, biting, and licking. You should also observe an improvement in the condition of the skin, with less redness and inflammation. These changes typically occur quickly, often within a few hours to days of starting the medication.

Q16: Can Apoquel Be Used for Cats?

Apoquel is specifically formulated and approved for use in dogs. It is not recommended for cats or other animals. Cats have different metabolic pathways and can react differently to medications. If your cat is experiencing allergies or skin issues, it is crucial to consult with your veterinarian to find an appropriate and safe treatment option.

Q17: What Should I Do If I Miss a Dose?

If you miss a dose of Apoquel, give it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with the regular schedule. Do not double up on doses as this could lead to an overdose. Keeping a consistent schedule and setting reminders can help prevent missed doses.

Q18: Are There Any Breed-Specific Reactions to Apoquel?

While Apoquel is generally safe for all breeds, individual reactions can vary. Some dogs may be more sensitive to the medication, regardless of their breed. Always monitor your dog closely when starting a new medication and report any adverse reactions to your veterinarian promptly.

Q19: Can Puppies Take Apoquel?

Apoquel is not approved for use in dogs less than 12 months of age. Puppies have developing immune systems, and the impact of modulating the immune response with Apoquel in this age group has not been thoroughly studied. If a puppy is experiencing severe allergies, a veterinarian can help determine the safest and most effective treatment options.

Q20: How Does Apoquel Impact My Dog’s Overall Health?

While Apoquel is effective in managing allergic reactions, it works by modulating the immune system, which can have implications on overall health. Dogs on Apoquel may be more susceptible to infections and could potentially have an increased risk of developing neoplastic conditions. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to monitor your dog’s health, catch any potential issues early, and ensure that the benefits of using Apoquel outweigh the risks.

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