This article is going to be very helpful for those looking for safe & cheap alternatives to Apoquel (generic name: “oclacitinib”) for their dogs or cats and living in the USA or UK.

A few weeks ago, my labrador dog started scratching his body. Skin irritations and itching got worse to worsened within a few hours. I brought my furry friend to a veterinarian. He asked about the persisting condition, and some symptoms, took a diagnosing test, and was prescribed him an FDA-approved veterinary medicine “Apoquel”.


Honestly speaking, the Oclacitiib medication worked really well for my dog. Itching, scratching, and irritations went away within few hours (in almost 4-6 hours) and the dog became relaxed.

The veterinarian suggested that I give him Apoquel tablet 5.4mg once daily, preferably after a meal and at night time.

Oclacitinib treated my dog’s itching so smoothly, but my furry friend always looked dizzy, slow, lethargic, demotivated, and was suffering from a lot of behavior changes.

He was not eating well (hopefully suffering from anorexia: lack of appetite), showing less interest in playing with his favorite toys, and always remain sleepy.

I called the veterinarian, and he said that these are the common reactions of oclacitinib medication. And said that I don’t need to be worry (panic) regarding my pet’s health. Because the reactions would disappear (go away) within a day or two.

After three days of taking Apoquel 5.4mg tablets, my dog (30.5 lbs weight) started vomiting with other side effects including diarrhea and flatulence.

That was the time when I started searching for the medicine (that I was giving to my dog) on the search box and found vigilant information about the drug.

Basically, Apoquel tablets 5.4mg contain “Oclacitinib” which is an immunosuppressant drug that works by suppressing the body’s defense system that helps a living body to fight against harmful foreign substances (invaders), including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other micro-organisms.

Immunosuppressants may show mild to severe adverse reactions, including vomiting, diarrhea, and other digestive problems.

Alternatives to Apoquel Tablets for Dogs

Apoquel is not suitable for dogs under one year of age. Because small dogs have very low immunity and immunosuppressants may increase the risks of infectious diseases.

Reasons Behind Finding Alternatives To Dogs

Before providing you with the best list of Oclacitinib alternatives for dogs, I would like to discuss why you probably are searching for substitutes.

The reasons for finding alternatives may be;

High range of side effects

Probably you want a substitute for Apoquel (an immunosuppressant) medicine because it doesn’t suit your pet.

It may show a broad range of adverse reactions, including vomiting, nausea, gas, bloating, flatulence, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), abdominal pain or cramps, dizziness, anorexia (lack of appetite), lethargy, behavior changes, mood swings, continuous barking, may worsen the pre-existing infections, cancers, increased thirst, urination, and a high risk of bone marrow suppression.


Oclacitinib is used for dogs and cats with chronic dermatitis or chronic (persisting) skin allergies. It’s highly addictive, as dogs on Apoquel when taking other drugs like anti-histamines don’t get relief. Even though the steroids become less effective, including prednisone.

Immunosuppressant drug

There is no doubt that immunosuppressants like Apoquel (Oclacitinib) or Atopica (Cyclosporin) are not recommended for pets under one year old. Because they increase the risks of developing infectious diseases and delay the wound-healing process. It may also worsen pre-existing cancer, as suppresses the body’s defense system and lets the infectious cells grow and replicate freely.


There are possibilities that some of you are searching for alternative brands or generics because of the Apoquel high altitude prices as steroids like dexamethasone, betamethasone, and prednisone, are far cheaper than this.


Another reason is that Apoquel is a prescription drug, and is only available on a registered veterinarian prescription only. You cannot buy it without a valid prescription. So, hopefully, you’re looking for natural or homeopathic alternatives to Apoquel for dogs.

Age factor

Apoquel tablets are not recommended for pets below 12 months old. So, if you’re looking for healthy Apoquel alternatives for dogs under 12 months.

Top Six (06) Natural Alternatives To Apoquel For Dogs

There are several natural remedies available that efficiently treat a dog’s itchy and irritating skin, however, I short-listed six of them here.

Apple Cider Vinegar

The reason I put ACV (apple cider vinegar) at the top of my list of natural alternatives to Apoquel for dogs is because of its high efficacy in treating itchy and irritating skin.

Apple Cider Vinegar For Dogs

ACV shows anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and anti-microbial properties. It prevents the chances of developing a bacterial infection because of scratching, licking, and biting.

The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar works as an antiseptic and may help in relieving the itchy skin of dogs.

There are two ways to apply apple cider vinegar to your dog’s skin;

1: Add two cups of raw (natural) apple cider vinegar into a bathtub. Enter your pet into the tub and let him/her soak the magical ingredients of ACV that will help him/her relieve itching, and prevent bacteria from growing/replicating.

Coconut Oil

It possesses anti-microbial properties that can help in treating skin irritations. Coconut oil could be given orally to a pet or a thin layer can be applied to the skin directly.

Coconut Oil For Dogs

A pet may refuse to take coconut orally so you may give them other foods (they are eating) or medications.

Simply dip the food into coconut oil and give it to your pet. Otherwise, you may apply a thin layer of coconut oil to a dog’s dry, irritating, and itchy skin surface.



It may help you in treating a pet’s itchy skin at home. Yogurt contains probiotics (good bacteria: also known as commensals bacteria) and shows antibacterial properties. It supports the body’s immune system.

However, there is no research that supports that yogurt treats prickling skin. However it has been used for years in rural areas for treating stinging skin.

Dogs can eat yogurt (in fact some pets love to eat it) but in a controlled dose.

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile Tea For Dogs

Needs more studies to be done on chamomile tea’s benefits for small animals. However, some sources suggest that it can help dogs suffering from itchy skin symptoms caused by allergies.

It could be given orally (in a very small amount: dosage depends on dog size, weight, age) or applied topically.

Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal Bath For Dogs

For some breeds, taking oatmeal baths could be helpful in dealing with a dog’s tingling skin. There are no researches that support its benefits when treating skin irritations in canines.

However, it has been used for years in rural parts of the globe as the best treatment for dog skin allergies.

Aloe Vera

Its antibacterial and microbial properties make it a unique and powerful tool when we consider dealing with skin allergies in dogs through natural remedies at home.

Aloe Vera For Dogs

Simply apply pure aloe vera on your pet’s skin, wait for a few minutes, then rinse off and you will definitely see good outcomes.

You may use aloe vera gel for a dog’s itchy skin thrice a day. It’s a safe and natural way of treating skin infections.

All of the above home remedies are 100% safe, and effective and do not cause any adverse reactions or side effects when given (orally: except aloe vera/oatmeal bath/ACV) or applied (topically) in a recommended dose.

Apoquel alternatives for cats

Cats belong to a group of animals that are called “felines”. Since Apoquel (oclacitinib) works by suppressing the body’s defense system it could be fatal for cat families to consume immunosuppressive medication as it is commonly prescribed for the long term.

Cetirizine HCL, loratadine, ebastine, levocetirizine, pheniramine, and chlorpheniramine, are some generic formulations that could be used to treat skin allergies in cats.

Apoquel human alternatives

Some folks try to find easily available human anti-allergy drugs that could be used as a substitute for Oclacitinib med. Sometimes, these extra-label medicines (described below) proved helpful in pressing the signs of allergies.

Human anti-allergy drugs include hydroxyzine, cetirizine, diphenhydramine, etc.

Topical remedies

The chances of developing a secondary bacterial infection in pets are sky-high if a dog suffers from skin allergies.

When a canine scratches his skin, it provides a blossoming environment for bacteria to replicate (and grow) hence causing a bacterial skin infection.

You may use any topical creams/ointments/lotions that contain the following ingredients (in combination);

  • neomycin sulfate (antibacterial)
  • bacitracin (antibacterial)
  • mupirocin (antibacterial)
  • fusidic acid (antibacterial)
  • polymyxin (antibiotic)
  • tobramycin (antibiotic)
  • nystatin (antifungal)
  • hydrocortisone (corticosteroid)
  • betamethasone (corticosteroid)
  • dexamethasone (corticosteroid)
  • clotrimazole (antifungal: only if fungal infection is developed)
  • triamcinolone (corticosteroid)

A combination of antibacterial agents and corticosteroids is good for treating itchy skin.

I didn’t share any brand names because probably you’re reading this article from the USA (United States of America), the UK (United Kingdom), Canada, the Philippines, or perhaps any other part of the world.

Brands are only available in a specific part of the world but generics are supported worldwide.

Apoquel alternative injections

In severe cases, steroid injections are used as a substitute for oclacitinib (immunosuppressive drug) for treating allergies.

Below is the list of a few corticosteroid medicines that are used for itchy skin in pets;

  • betamethasone
  • dexamethasone
  • prednisone

Homeopathic Substitutes

There would definitely be homeopathic medicine that may help your furious friend. But keep in mind, for instant relief you must go for antihistamines, steroids, or immunosuppressive drugs.

Over-the-counter drugs

Steroids, immunosuppressive drugs, and antihistamines are commonly available on a registered prescription. But in some regions of the world probably you may get these kinds of prescription drugs without a prescription (especially folks that live in third-world countries: Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, etc).

Summary [Things to remember]

Apoquel contains “Oclacitinib” which is an immunosuppressive drug and could be harmful for long-term use. Homes remedies (natural remedies) could be used for treating skin allergies in dogs. Aloe vera gel, oatmeal bath, apple cider vinegar, and yogurt have proved helpful as an itch relief.

Levocetirizine, cetirizine HCL, ebastine, hydroxyzine, and loratadine are some antihistamine drugs that could be used for treating skin allergies in dogs as a substitute for Apoquel medication.

However, medicines, home remedies and other ways of treating allergies work temporarily (for a short period of time) because they just work on symptoms, not causes.

Try to figure out the root cause that is probably causing discomfort in your pet’s life. Your dog may have a food allergy, pollen allergy, or allergic to a specific material (substance): which could be plastic, metal, rubber, etc.

Figuring out the root cause of allergy is the number one, easy, cheap, safe, and best alternative to Apoquel tablets for dogs.

Best Apoquel Alternatives Overview: Quick Relief for Your Dog’s Allergies

Alternatives Apoquel for DogsTypeBenefits/PropertiesApplication MethodNotes
Apple Cider VinegarNaturalAnti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-fungal, etc.Bathtub soak or direct applicationDo not apply on open wounds
Coconut OilNaturalAnti-microbialOral intake or direct skin application
YogurtNaturalProbiotics, supports immune systemOral intakeControlled doses
Chamomile TeaNaturalPotential relief for itchy skinOral intake or topical applicationMore research needed
Oatmeal BathNaturalRelief for itchy skinBathtub soak
Aloe VeraNaturalAntibacterial, anti-microbialDirect skin applicationDo not let the dog ingest
Cetirizine HCL etc.MedicationAntihistamine for allergies in catsOral intakeCheck with vet for appropriate dosing
Hydroxyzine, etc.MedicationHuman anti-allergy drugs, possible dog useOral intakeVet consultation recommended
Neomycin, etc.TopicalAntibacterial, antifungal, corticosteroidCreams/ointments for skin applicationSpecific to secondary infections
Betamethasone, etc.InjectionCorticosteroids for severe casesInjectable by vetFor severe cases only
HomeopathicAlternativeVariousDepends on remedyConsult with a homeopathic vet
Over-the-counterMedicationAntihistamines, steroids, etc.Oral intake, topical, etc.Prescription status varies by country


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