When it comes to the health of our canine companions, understanding the medications prescribed is as crucial as the treatments themselves. Dogs, much like humans, are often prescribed various medications to manage a range of health issues from allergies to autoimmune diseases, and each medication comes with its own set of guidelines and effects.

Among the commonly prescribed medications for dogs are Apoquel and Prednisone. Apoquel is typically used to manage itching and inflammation associated with allergies, while Prednisone is employed to treat a variety of conditions, including allergies, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases.

The purpose of this article is to delve into whether these two medications can be safely used in conjunction.

Given the prevalence of both drugs in veterinary medicine, it’s important to understand how they interact, the potential risks of using them together, and what professional veterinarians advise regarding their combined use.


Understanding Apoquel and Prednisone


Apoquel (oclacitinib tablet) is an innovative medication widely used in veterinary medicine to control itching and inflammation associated with allergic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis in dogs.

Acting on the Janus kinase (JAK) enzymes, Apoquel provides relief by targeting the pathways involved in allergies, effectively reducing symptoms without many of the harsher side effects associated with steroids.

Common dosages of Apoquel depend on the weight of the dog, and it’s typically administered twice daily for up to 14 days, and then reduced to once daily for maintenance.


Prednisone is a corticosteroid that works by suppressing the immune system and reducing inflammation. It’s a go-to treatment for a myriad of conditions including allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases in dogs.

The drug helps alleviate symptoms such as swelling, pain, and allergic reactions. Dosage of Prednisone can vary significantly based on the dog’s specific condition and severity, with the administration tapering off to avoid withdrawal symptoms after extended use.


Can Apoquel and Prednisone Be Administered Together?

When considering the concurrent use of Apoquel and Prednisone, it is essential to understand their interaction and the implications for canine health. Both medications effectively reduce inflammation but do so through different mechanisms.

This complementary action might suggest a potential benefit in using them together; however, it also raises concerns about over-immunossuppression and increased susceptibility to infections or other side effects.

Research and veterinary insights suggest caution when combining these medications. The overlapping effects on the immune system can potentially lead to an increased risk of infections and other complications.

Veterinarians often evaluate the necessity of such a combination on a case-by-case basis, considering factors such as the severity of symptoms, the presence of other health conditions, and how a dog has previously responded to either medication alone.

There have been limited studies directly investigating the effects of these drugs used in combination, but anecdotal evidence and veterinary experience generally advise a conservative approach.

If a veterinarian considers prescribing both, it typically involves close monitoring for adverse reactions, adjusting dosages to the minimum effective amount, and ensuring the treatment duration is as short as possible to mitigate risks.

While Apoquel and Prednisone both offer significant benefits in managing canine health issues, their combined use should be approached with caution. Pet owners should engage in open dialogue with their veterinarians to ensure the safest and most effective treatment plan for their dogs.

Comparison Table: Apoquel vs. Prednisone

To provide a clear understanding of how Apoquel and Prednisone differ in their use, mechanisms, side effects, and interactions, here is a detailed comparison:

UsagePrimarily used for controlling itching and inflammation associated with allergies and atopic dermatitis in dogs.Used to treat a wide range of conditions including allergies, inflammation, autoimmune diseases, and as an immunosuppressant.
MechanismInhibits Janus kinase enzymes, specifically targeting the pathways that cause itching and inflammation.Acts as a corticosteroid that suppresses the immune system broadly, reducing inflammation and the body’s normal immune response.
Side EffectsGenerally well-tolerated; possible side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Rarely, more severe effects like immunosuppression can occur.Wide range of potential side effects, including increased susceptibility to infections, increased appetite, weight gain, and potential long-term effects on bone density and muscle strength.
InteractionsFewer drug interactions due to targeted mechanism. However, caution advised when used with other immunosuppressive drugs.Can interact with a variety of medications, including NSAIDs, other corticosteroids, and certain vaccines; requires careful management to avoid adverse interactions.

Veterinarian Insights

Veterinarians emphasize that while both Apoquel and Prednisone are effective in their respective areas, the decision to use them in tandem should not be taken lightly. Dr. Xeeshan, a board-certified veterinary dermatologist, advises,

“When combining these medications, it’s crucial to monitor the dog closely for any signs of excessive immunosuppression such as recurrent infections or unusual lethargy. This combination should be reserved for cases where other treatments have not been effective, and the benefits outweigh the risks.”

Case studies have shown varied results. In one instance, a dog suffering from severe atopic dermatitis did not respond adequately to Apoquel alone but saw improved conditions with a carefully managed addition of Prednisone.

This was, however, paired with increased veterinary oversight to adjust dosages and monitor health indicators.

Alternatives to Combining Apoquel and Prednisone

In cases where using both Apoquel and Prednisone might be too risky, there are several alternatives:

  • Cyclosporine: Used primarily for atopic dermatitis, it acts similarly to prednisone but with a potentially different side effect profile. However, it can be expensive and requires monitoring for kidney function and blood pressure.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Supplements that can reduce inflammation naturally without the side effects associated with steroids.
  • Topical Treatments: Medicated shampoos or creams that provide localized treatment to reduce symptoms without systemic side effects.

Pros and Cons of Alternatives:

CyclosporineEffective for many dogs with fewer long-term side effects compared to steroids.Costly and requires regular monitoring.
Omega-3 Fatty AcidsNatural, safer for long-term use, and supports overall health.Effects may be mild and not sufficient for severe cases.
Topical TreatmentsDirectly target the affected area, fewer systemic effects.May not be practical for widespread or severe cases.

While there are cases where Apoquel and Prednisone may need to be used together, exploring alternatives and discussing these with a veterinarian can often provide safer or equally effective solutions.

Always consider each dog’s individual health profile and history when choosing the best treatment option.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can combining Apoquel and Prednisone harm my dog?

Combining Apoquel and Prednisone can increase the risk of adverse effects due to the compounded immunosuppressive actions of both medications.

While this combination is not inherently harmful if managed carefully, it does pose a higher risk of side effects such as increased susceptibility to infections and potential organ dysfunction.

It’s essential to follow a veterinarian’s guidance closely if both medications are prescribed together.

What are the signs of adverse reactions I should watch for if my dog is on both medications?

When your dog is on both Apoquel and Prednisone, monitoring for signs of adverse reactions is crucial. Be vigilant for symptoms such as:

  • Unusual lethargy or depression
  • Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
  • Signs of infection (e.g., fever, pus, swollen lymph nodes)
  • Increased thirst and urination (common with Prednisone)
  • Any new or worsening symptoms of illness If you observe any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately as these could indicate serious side effects requiring prompt intervention.

Are there any specific conditions under which the combination might be warranted?

The combination of Apoquel and Prednisone might be considered in cases where a dog suffers from severe allergic reactions or autoimmune diseases that have not responded to single-drug therapies or other combinations.

In such scenarios, the potential benefits might outweigh the risks. However, this decision should only be made under the strict supervision of a veterinarian who can assess the individual needs and health status of the dog.

How should I approach my veterinarian about using both medications?

When discussing the possibility of using both Apoquel and Prednisone with your veterinarian, it’s important to be fully transparent about your dog’s health history and any previous reactions to medications.

Here are some steps to follow:

  • Be Prepared: Bring a list of all current medications and supplements your dog is taking.
  • Ask Questions: Inquire about the potential benefits and risks, and ask for any alternative treatment options.
  • Discuss Monitoring: Talk about how your dog will be monitored for side effects and the signs you should watch for at home.
  • Follow Up: Set up a schedule for follow-up appointments to assess how your dog is responding to the treatment.

This thorough approach ensures that if both medications are used, it will be under the safest and most controlled conditions possible. Always prioritize your dog’s well-being by seeking advice from qualified veterinary professionals and adhering to their recommendations.

Doctor Xeeshan

Doctor Xeeshan

I am Doctor Xeeshan, located in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. In this blog, I am providing authentic information about dog breeds, diseases, medications, etc.


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