Does Apoquel Make Dogs Sleepy?

When it comes to managing allergies in dogs, Apoquel has become a popular choice among pet owners and veterinarians alike. But, as with any medication, it’s essential to understand not just the benefits, but also the potential side effects. One question that often pops up in pet care forums is, “Does Apoquel make dogs sleepy?”

What is Apoquel?

Before we tackle the big question, let’s first get a grip on what Apoquel is. Apoquel (oclacitinib) is a medication known for its effectiveness in controlling allergic dermatitis and pruritus (itching) in dogs. It works by modulating the immune system, specifically targeting the pathways involved in the allergic response.

Apoquel and Sleepiness: What the Studies Say

When it comes to side effects, Apoquel’s official documentation does not list sleepiness or lethargy as a common reaction. However, like any medication, individual responses can vary, and some pet owners have reported their dogs appearing drowsy after taking the drug.

Key Takeaways from Clinical Studies

To give you a clearer picture, let’s delve into the findings from various clinical studies and post-approval experiences.

Side Effect Occurrence in Apoquel Group Occurrence in Placebo Group Additional Information
Lethargy 2.0% (Atopic Dermatitis Study, Days 0-16) 1.4% (Atopic Dermatitis Study, Days 0-16) Most cases spontaneously resolved with continued dosing.
1.8% (Allergic Dermatitis Study, Days 0-7) 1.4% (Allergic Dermatitis Study, Days 0-7)
Diarrhea 6.0% (Post-Approval Experience) Not Applicable
Vomiting 9.2% (Post-Approval Experience) Not Applicable
Anorexia 3.2% (Post-Approval Experience) Not Applicable
Increased Appetite 1.1% (Post-Approval Experience) Not Applicable
Polydipsia (Increased Thirst) 1.4% (Allergic Dermatitis Study, Days 0-7) 0% (Allergic Dermatitis Study, Days 0-7)

So, Can Apoquel Make Dogs Sleepy?

Based on the available data, lethargy does appear in a small percentage of cases, but it is not a predominant side effect. Most importantly, when it does occur, it tends to resolve on its own even with continued use of Apoquel.

Considering the Risks and Benefits

As with any medication, it’s crucial to weigh the risks and benefits before starting your dog on Apoquel. This drug is not recommended for dogs less than 12 months old, those with serious infections, or those that are pregnant, lactating, or intended for breeding.

Monitoring is Key

If your dog is on Apoquel, monitoring for the development of infections, demodicosis, and neoplasia is essential. Pay attention to any signs of lethargy or other changes in behavior and report them to your veterinarian.

Secure Storage and Proper Dosage

Ensure that Apoquel is stored securely, out of reach of pets and other animals, to prevent accidental ingestion or overdose.

Apoquel Alternatives

If you’re concerned about the potential side effects of Apoquel, discuss alternatives with your veterinarian. There are other medications and therapies available that may be a better fit for your pet’s specific needs.


While Apoquel has proven to be a game-changer for many dogs dealing with allergies, it’s important to stay informed and vigilant. Sleepiness does not appear to be a major side effect of Apoquel, but as a responsible pet owner, monitoring your dog’s reaction to any medication is key to their well-being. Always consult with your veterinarian to ensure that you’re making the best choice for your furry friend’s health. Remember, a happy dog is a healthy dog!


Q: What is APOQUEL and what does it do?

A: APOQUEL is a medication used in veterinary medicine to treat dogs suffering from allergies, specifically atopic dermatitis. It works by modulating the immune system, helping to alleviate associated itching and inflammation.

Q: Why is APOQUEL not recommended for dogs less than 12 months old?

A: Young dogs have developing immune systems, and since APOQUEL modulates the immune response, it could potentially impact their growth or health negatively. Hence, it is recommended to use this medication cautiously in younger dogs.

Q: Can I give APOQUEL to my pregnant or lactating dog?

A: APOQUEL is not recommended for use in breeding dogs, or those that are pregnant or lactating. The effects of the medication on unborn puppies or on lactation have not been extensively studied, making it a potential risk.

Q: Are there any adverse reactions I should be aware of when giving my dog APOQUEL?

A: Yes, there have been instances of adverse reactions in dogs taking APOQUEL. These include an increased susceptibility to infections, such as demodicosis, and the exacerbation of neoplastic conditions. Some dogs have also experienced gastrointestinal issues, such as vomiting and diarrhea, though these often resolve on their own.

Q: How should I store APOQUEL?

A: It is crucial to store APOQUEL securely, out of the reach of pets and other animals, to avoid accidental ingestion or overdose.

Q: What should I do if I suspect my dog is experiencing an adverse reaction to APOQUEL?

A: If you suspect your dog is having an adverse reaction to APOQUEL, contact your veterinarian immediately. They can provide guidance on how to proceed, and if necessary, adjust your dog’s treatment plan.

Q: Can APOQUEL be used in conjunction with other medications?

A: The use of APOQUEL in combination with other immunosuppressive agents like glucocorticoids or cyclosporine has not been evaluated. If your dog is on any other medications, it’s important to discuss this with your veterinarian to ensure safe and effective treatment.

Q: How effective is APOQUEL in treating atopic dermatitis and allergic dermatitis?

A: Clinical studies have shown that APOQUEL is effective in controlling the symptoms of atopic dermatitis and allergic dermatitis. However, like any medication, it may not work for every dog, and it’s important to monitor your pet for any signs of adverse reactions or lack of improvement.

Q: What are some signs that my dog may be developing an infection or neoplasia while on APOQUEL?

A: Signs of infection could include increased redness, swelling, or discharge from affected areas, lethargy, or a change in appetite. Neoplasia might manifest as new growths or lumps on your dog’s body. If you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian right away.

Q: Are there any long-term studies on the safety of APOQUEL in dogs?

A: Yes, there have been continuation field studies where dogs received APOQUEL for extended periods. These studies provide valuable information on the long-term safety of the medication, though like all medications, individual responses can vary, and long-term use should be monitored by a veterinarian.

Q: Can APOQUEL mask the symptoms of an underlying condition?

A: Yes, APOQUEL works by modulating the immune system and reducing inflammation and itching. While this can significantly improve a dog’s quality of life, it’s important to note that it might also mask the symptoms of underlying conditions. Continuous monitoring and regular veterinary check-ups are essential to ensure the dog’s health is not being compromised.

Q: How quickly does APOQUEL start working after administration?

A: APOQUEL begins to work rapidly, with most owners observing a noticeable reduction in itching within 24 hours of the first dose. The medication reaches its full effect within 3-7 days. However, individual responses may vary, and some dogs might take a bit longer to show improvement.

Q: Is there a specific diet my dog should follow while on APOQUEL?

A: There is no specific diet required for dogs taking APOQUEL, but a balanced and nutritious diet is vital for overall health. If your dog has food allergies or sensitivities, continue to avoid known allergens. Consult with your veterinarian to discuss the most appropriate diet for your dog’s specific health needs.

Q: Are there any breeds that are more prone to adverse reactions from APOQUEL?

A: Current data does not indicate that specific breeds are more prone to adverse reactions from APOQUEL. However, all dogs should be monitored for potential side effects, and any concerning symptoms should be reported to your veterinarian.

Q: What should I do if my dog accidentally ingests an extra dose of APOQUEL?

A: If your dog accidentally ingests an extra dose of APOQUEL, contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal poison control hotline immediately. Provide them with information on how much was ingested and when, as well as any symptoms your dog may be exhibiting.

Q: How long does it take for APOQUEL to leave a dog’s system?

A: APOQUEL is eliminated from a dog’s body relatively quickly, with the half-life of the drug being around 4 hours in healthy dogs. This means that within a day, the majority of the medication is out of the dog’s system. However, the effects on the immune system may last longer, so it is important to follow your veterinarian’s guidance on dosing and monitoring.

Q: Can APOQUEL be used in conjunction with allergy testing?

A: Yes, APOQUEL can be used during allergy testing. It does not interfere with skin allergy tests or blood allergy tests, making it a convenient option for managing symptoms while determining the cause of a dog’s allergies.

Q: What is the success rate of APOQUEL in treating canine allergies?

A: APOQUEL has a high success rate in managing the symptoms of canine allergies, with many dogs experiencing significant relief from itching and inflammation. However, as with any medication, there are individual variations, and some dogs may respond better than others.

Q: Are there any alternative treatments to APOQUEL for canine allergies?

A: Yes, there are several alternative treatments for canine allergies, including other oral medications, topical treatments, and immunotherapy. The best choice depends on the dog’s specific condition, severity of symptoms, and any underlying health issues. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on the most appropriate treatment options for your dog.

Q: Can APOQUEL be used as a long-term solution for managing canine allergies?

A: APOQUEL can be used long-term for managing canine allergies, provided that the dog is monitored regularly for any potential adverse effects. Long-term use has been studied and is generally considered safe under veterinary supervision. However, it is also important to address any underlying issues and potential allergens to provide comprehensive care for allergic dogs.

Q: What steps should be taken if a dog on APOQUEL is not showing improvement?

A: If a dog on APOQUEL is not showing improvement, it is crucial to revisit the veterinarian for a thorough reevaluation. The lack of response might indicate that the diagnosis needs to be reviewed, the dose adjusted, or alternative treatments considered. Ensuring an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan is essential for effectively managing canine allergies.

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