8 Best Apoquel Alternatives for Dogs

If you have a dog with atopy or atopic dermatitis, Apoquel can be an effective treatment option. However, there are some alternatives to Apoquel that you should consider.

Is there an alternative to Apoquel for dogs?

Alternative to Apoquel for dogs

1. Allergy shots

Allergy shots, or allergen-specific immunotherapy, are injections given to dogs with allergies such as flea dermatitis, food allergies, and 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. Antihistamines

The main alternative to Apoquel for dogs is Benadryl.

Benadryl, or diphenhydramine, is an antihistamine that works to treat mild allergies in people and animals. It does work to treat allergic reactions on its own, but should ideally be combined with other medications for the best results.

Other antihistamines such as Claritin and Zyrtec are available at your local pharmacy without a prescription. These medications do have some side effects such as drowsiness and may not fully relieve itching, but they’re effective when used correctly.

Natural alternative to Apoquel

3. Quercetin

Quercetin is a flavonoid found in many fruits and vegetables. Antioxidant activities of Quercetin can help calm a dog’s inflamed skin and stop itching.

Quercetin has been studied as an alternative medication for dogs with atopy or atopic dermatitis because it seems to have anti-inflammatory properties.

4. Chamomile

Chamomile has been used for centuries to treat wounds and other skin irritations.

Chamomile contains antiseptic properties that can help soothe itchy skin. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties that may help relieve itching associated with atopic dermatitis.

5. Green tea

Green tea contains catechins that have anti-inflammatory properties. It also has soothing properties that help calm irritated skin.

Green tea also contains antioxidants that help prevent oxidative stress on skin cells leading to irritation and rashes.

6. Calendula

Calendula is a herb that has been used since ancient times to treat wounds, bruises, cuts, and other skin ailments. It has also been used to treat various types of dermatitis in dogs.

7. Oatmeal Baths

Oatmeal baths are a simple way to soothe your dog’s skin. Just sprinkle oatmeal into your dog’s bath water.

You can also add oatmeal when you shampoo your pet; it will leave behind a mild lather that will soothe dry, itchy skin while leaving its coat shiny and soft!

8. Fish Oil

Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory properties.

Studies have shown that fish oil supplements can help reduce inflammation in dogs with atopy or atopic dermatitis.

What is Apoquel used for dogs?

Apoquel is a medication that targets and blocks specific immune system mediators that contribute to itchiness and inflammation in dogs.

Apoquel is only available by prescription and comes in tablet form, with each tablet containing 3.6mg, 5.4mg, or 16mg of oclacitinib maleate.

Apoquel 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.

Apoquel has a list of potential side effects, however, these side effects are rare in dogs who take Apoquel; most experience no adverse reactions at all.

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.

What are the side effects of Apoquel in dogs?

The side effects of Apoquel for dogs include:

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Lethargy or sleepiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in behavior
  • Dermatofibromas (skin growth)
  • Otitis (inflammation of the ear)
  • Histiocytoma (a tumor consisting of histiocytes)
  • Cystitis (urinary tract infection)
  • Yeast skin infections
  • Pododermatitis (inflammation of the skin of the paw)
  • Lipoma (a fatty tumor located just below the skin)

Is Cytopoint or Apoquel more effective?

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

Apoquel reviews from dog owners

Most pet owners who have used Apoquel report positive experiences. A majority of reviewers on Chewy.com rate Apoquel 4.5 stars or above, and most say their pets have experienced relief from severe itching within 12 hours of taking Apoquel.

Some people say Apoquel works even better than steroids and antihistamines. Most reviewers say their dogs experience no side effects while taking Apoquel, although some do report gastrointestinal upset or lethargy.

“I have been using Apoquel for about 3 weeks, and I must say that I am very happy with the results so far. My dog is a small pitbull mix. She has been dealing with severe allergies for a number of years now, and her skin is always dry and she is constantly scratching. We have tried many other drugs including steroids, but nothing has worked as well as Apoquel. On the first day that we gave her the drug her itching was greatly reduced. After about a week, her scratching was completely gone! Her skin still looked red and scabby but it was no longer irritating her. The only side effect that we noticed is that she became slightly more hungry than usual.”

“I’ve been using Apoquel for 2 months now and it is, by far, the best allergy medication I’ve tried for my dog. I was a little concerned about some of the side effects that other reviewers have mentioned, however, I have not experienced any of these with my dog. I am extremely impressed with this drug and would highly recommend it to anyone who is frustrated with the lack of success they may be experiencing with other allergy medications.”

“My dog had constant itching and scratching. After taking Apoquel, she is a happy dog again.”

“I’ve tried everything on the market and nothing has worked until now. I’m just so pleased my baby is no longer in pain and suffering.”

Conclusion of Apoquel alternatives

For some dogs, Apoquel is a wonder drug. For others, it’s not worth the side effects.

As with any medication, it’s important to weigh the risks and benefits before prescribing a new drug. For most dogs who suffer from severe itching due to allergies, the benefits of Apoquel outweigh the risks.

Apoquel isn’t a cure-all. It’s not right for all dogs, in the same way, that Benadryl or prednisone isn’t right for all dogs.

If your vet prescribes Apoquel for your dog, you should know that there are risks. But if you’re already at the point where your dog is suffering from itching and scratching and nothing else is working, it’s probably worth trying.

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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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