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Oclacitinib (Apoquel)

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Oclacitinib (Apoquel)


  • Oclacitinib (also known as Apoquel) belongs to the class of drugs called Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors. This drug is effective at controlling pruritus (itching) as associated with allergies. Oclacitinib how show to inhibit cytokines that cause inflammatory and itching. Oclacitinib is not considered a corticosteroid or an antihistamine but has effects that can be similar.
  • Oclacitinib was studied at 18 veterinary colleges in the United States with excellent results.
  • This drug controls itching and has been show to be a great drug alternative to antihistamine drugs and steroids such as prednisone, dexamathasone, depomedtrol and triamcinolone. Oclacitinib has been very effective in controlling itching without the side effects.
  • Oclacitinib is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • Oclacitinib has been specifically approved and labeled for use in dogs by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in dogs only.
  • Veterinary formulations: Apoquel®.

    Uses of Oclacitinib (Apoquel)

  • Oclacitinib has been used in the treatment of allergies such as atopy (Allergic Dermatitis in Dogs) and those allergies caused by fleas, food or other contact substances.

    Precautions and Side Effects of Apoquel

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, oclacitinib may cause side effects in some animals.
  • Oclacitinib should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Oclacitinib has been show to be safe if given with antibiotics, vaccines, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and/or allergen immunotherapy.
  • Oclacitinib should be avoided in dogs less than 12 months of age or in dog with serious infections. Some dogs may have an increased susceptibility to infection including demodicosis and exacerbate neoplastic conditions.
  • Oclacitinib is not approved for use in breeding dogs, pregnant or lactating dogs.
  • This drug must be used with caution in patients with heart failure, liver disease, or kidney disease.
  • Oclacitinib may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving might interact with Oclacitinib.
  • Side effects of Oclacitinib include diarrhea, vomiting, anorexia, and/or lethargy. There can be an increased risk of infections in dogs treated with Oclacitinib.

    How Oclacitinib (Apoquel) Is Supplied

  • Oclacitinib is available in oral formulation of 3.6 mg, 5.4 mg and 16 mg tablets.
  • Each strength of tablet is packaged in quantities of 20 and 100 count bottles.
  • Each tablet is scored and marked with S, M and L corresponding to the tablet sizes of small (3.6 mg), medium (5.4 mg) and large (16 mg).

    Dosing Information for Apoquel

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • In dogs for an anti-itching effect, Oclacitinib is dosed at 0.18 to 0.27 mg per pound (0.4 to 0.6 mg/kg) orally twice daily for up to 14 days then once daily.
  • Oclacitinib can be administered with or without food.
  • Oclacitinib can be stored at room temperature.
  • Wash hands after handling Apoquel. Keep out of the reach of children.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication, and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed otherwise by your veterinarian. Even if your pet appears to be feeling better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.

    I hope this article gives you more information about Oclacitinib (also known as Apoquel) for use in dogs.

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