Understanding and Managing Pruritus in Dogs

Pruritus, commonly known as itching, is a familiar yet often misunderstood condition in dogs. It’s an unpleasant sensation that urges them to scratch, bite, or lick their skin.

As dog lovers, it’s distressing to see our furry friends in discomfort, and understanding the underlying causes and treatments is crucial for their well-being.

More Than Just an Itch

Pruritus in dogs is a symptom, not a disease in itself. It’s a sign that something is amiss with their skin or overall health. The most common triggers are parasites, infections, and allergies.

Interestingly, many skin diseases don’t initially cause itching. It often develops due to secondary bacterial or yeast infections. By the time a dog starts itching, the original cause might have already resolved, making diagnosis a challenge.

Identifying the Cause of Itching

When a dog exhibits signs of pruritus, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian. They will conduct a thorough skin history and physical examination.

This process helps in pinpointing whether the itching is generalized or localized and guides the vet towards the underlying cause. It’s a detective work of sorts, where every clue matters.

Apoquel for Dogs

In the realm of veterinary medicine, Apoquel has emerged as a revolutionary treatment for allergic itch in dogs. It’s specifically designed to target the pathways involved in itching and inflammation.

This medication is a significant advancement, especially for dogs suffering from conditions like flea allergy, food allergy, contact allergy, and atopic dermatitis.

How Does Apoquel Work?

Apoquel functions by inhibiting specific enzymes involved in the allergic response. The active ingredient, Oclacitinib, targets the immune response that leads to itching and inflammation.

This targeted approach is effective in managing allergies and provides relief without the side effects commonly associated with steroids.

Dosage and Administration

Apoquel is suitable for dogs of all breeds and sizes, provided they are at least 12 months old. It comes in tablet form, including chewable options, and is available in various strengths (3.6 mg, 5.4 mg, and 16 mg).

The typical initial dosage is 0.4 to 0.6 mg/kg, administered twice daily for the first 14 days. This is followed by a maintenance dose of 0.4 to 0.6 mg/kg once daily.

However, the exact dosage should always be determined by a veterinarian based on the dog’s specific needs. The tablets can be given with or without food, making administration convenient for pet owners.

Safety and Cautions

It’s essential to understand that Apoquel is available only by prescription. The notion of obtaining Apoquel without prescription is not only impractical but also potentially dangerous.

This medication should be used strictly under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. It’s exclusively formulated for dogs and should never be given to other animals. Special caution is advised if your dog is pregnant, nursing, or if you suspect they may be.

Potential Interactions and Side Effects

Like any medication, Apoquel may interact with other drugs, such as corticosteroids, other immunosuppressants, cyclosporine, and digoxin. These interactions should be carefully considered by your veterinarian to ensure the safe administration of Apoquel.

Additionally, while Apoquel is generally safe and well-tolerated, some dogs may experience side effects. These can include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, decreased appetite, skin infections, and ear infections. It’s important to monitor your dog for any adverse reactions and consult your veterinarian if any concerns arise.


Apoquel for dogs offers a significant advancement in treating itching and inflammation associated with allergic reactions. Its ability to provide rapid relief while minimizing the use of steroids is a major benefit for our canine companions.

However, as with any medication, it’s crucial to use Apoquel responsibly. Always consult with your veterinarian to ensure it’s the right choice for your pet, and never attempt to obtain or use it without a prescription.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure your furry friend enjoys a comfortable and healthy life, free from the distress of allergic reactions.