Alternatives to Apoquel for Dogs

If your dog is suffering from atopic dermatitis, then you probably have tried just about everything to clear up the rash. The worst part is the itchiness of atopic dermatitis makes your pet feel like he is constantly on fire. And even with an antihistamine, it isn’t enough to lessen the itching completely for your dog. It can also be a challenge to get him to take his oral medicine, so you are probably looking for an alternative to Apoquel.

Is Apoquel safe for dogs?

“I have been using Apoquel as a treatment for itching and I have found it to be very effective. I am a veterinarian and have treated many dogs with this medication in the past 6 years and find that it is safe to use, especially for long-term use if needed.”

Treatment such as Apoquel will not cure your dog’s allergies, but it can help control the symptoms. There is no magic cure for allergies but there are ways to manage them successfully. If you are unhappy with your current medication, you should speak with your veterinarian about switching or adding pills to the regimen.

Apoquel comes in tablet form, with each tablet containing 3.6mg, 5.4mg, or 16mg of Apoquel. It should be given with or without food, depending on the dog’s preference and tolerance to the medication. Dogs typically show signs of improvement within 4 hours of starting treatment with Apoquel.

The drug has a list of potential side effects, including drowsiness, vomiting, restlessness, and loss of appetite. However, these side effects are rare in dogs who take Apoquel; most experience no adverse reactions at all.

Is there an alternative to Apoquel for dogs?

Apoquel is a good anti-allergy treatment for dogs, but there are at least 4 other options out there.

1. Allergy shots

Allergy shots, or allergen-specific immunotherapy, are injections given to dogs with allergies such as flea dermatitis, food allergies or intolerances, environmental or atopic dermatitis. These shots are given in small doses under the skin and increased slowly over time. The treatment is designed to alter the dog’s immune response to those allergens so that their allergic reactions are less severe.

2. Cytopoint

Cytopoint injection is another alternative that can help manage the symptoms of an allergic reaction. It is one of the most common medications prescribed for mild allergic reactions as they target inflamed tissue and reduce the feelings of itchiness under the skin. This stops the dog from scratching and prevents skin damage, sores, and hair loss.

3. Atopica

Atopica® is the FDA-approved prescription oral drug for the management of canine atopic dermatitis (canine atopic allergy, canine atopy) in dogs. It relieves itching and redness caused by allergic reactions and other skin diseases, making it easier for your pet to enjoy activities and sleep through the night.

4. Over-the-counter drugs

Many people use over-the-counter drugs to treat atopic dermatitis in dogs. This type of medication will temporarily ease symptoms, while also preventing inflammation from flaring up. The most common medications are antihistamines, corticosteroids, and immunosuppressants.

Benadryl is a popular over-the-counter antihistamine used to treat dogs with allergies and insect bites. However, if your dog has severe allergies then Benadryl will not be suitable as it only helps relieve the symptoms of the allergy, rather than cure it.

Apoquel vs Cytopoint

Cytopoint is more popular than Apoquel for owners with dogs that refuse to take oral medication. Additionally, Cytopoint injections are given once every 4-6 weeks, whereas Apoquel tablets must be given every day or every other day.

In situations where dogs are fearful of visits to the vet, Apoquel is a much better solution. It may be difficult trying to get a dog to take a daily tablet, but frequent vet visits can be much more stressful.

Apoquel tablets are small enough that they can be hidden in a treat or mixed into the dog’s normal food. Some owners find it easier to use a pill tool, especially if their dog is good at finding a hidden medication or refuses food.

The benefit of giving these types of allergy medicine is that they provide effective, short-term relief from symptoms such as itchy or dry skin, which can cause stress and discomfort to the dog.

The downside is that these medications must be given every few weeks until the cause of the allergic reaction is dealt with, otherwise, the symptoms will keep returning and further flare-ups may be more severe.

How much does a dog allergy shot cost?

A dog allergy shot costs $150 to start and then will cost about $140 for subsequent injections (given every 6 months). Allergy shots are the only treatment that works well for most dogs. If you can afford an allergy shot, it’s well worth it if your dog is suffering.

Can I give my dog an allergy shot at home?

Yes, short-term allergy shots such as Cytopoint can be given at home and dosing is easy to calculate. If your dog is receiving more intense immunotherapy shots, this is done at a veterinary clinic by a licensed professional.


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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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