Treating Allergies in Dogs with Apoquel®

One of the most common reasons we see dogs is for allergies. A recent study reports that approximately 8.2 Million dogs in the U.S. are itchy.  Dogs who chronically chew, lick, scratch or constantly rub against household items, are often suffering from allergies. Constant scratching can cause hair loss, discolored skin, odor and sores.

Allergy Causes

Allergies are caused by food; parasites; plants; indoor (contact) allergens; such as cotton, wool or dust. In the past we often used a steroid called prednisone. Many pets’ allergy symptoms significantly decrease with steroids, but that is usually not without short term side effects (increased panting, urination and weight gain); chronic steroid use has long-term side effects, including: a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease and ligament break-down.

Allergy Treatments

In more recent years, allergies have been tackled with a multimodal approach. There are medicated shampoos, leave-on lotions, topical sprays, hypoallergenic foods, anti-histamines, immunotherapy (specially made injectable allergens for your specific dog), etc. All of these can be important tools in keeping your dog’s allergies controlled.

Why Apoquel®

As of 2014, we have a new drug in our arsenal, called Apoquel®. It is not an antihistamine or a steroid, but a new class of drug that blocks the inflammatory pathway associated with allergies. It has been shown to be effective in dogs with food allergies, outdoor allergies and contact allergies, as well as flea allergies.

Apoquel® is a small tablet which helps stop the itch in about 85% of dogs, over the age of 12 months. It is not available for dogs less than a year of age, due to the fact that their immune systems are still developing. The manufacturer states that it starts to work within 4 hours and has very few side effects. The most common side effect, although rare, is vomiting and diarrhea, which resolves with continued use. In a clinical trial, Apoquel® was found to have no long-term side effects in healthy dogs. Additionally, it can be safely used with most medications in dogs.
Recently we have been dispensing this new drug to our clients and have had very good feedback. If you would like to learn more about this new option for your dog’s itchy skin, please contact your Beaverton veterinarian.

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