In the following piece of the short article, I am going to answer a question related to the efficacy and effect of Apoquel (Oclacitinib maleate) tablets (available in 3.6mg, 5.4mg, and 16mg strengths). The question is, What is the mechanism of action of Apoquel medication?.

Apoquel contains the active ingredient, “oclacitinib maleate” which is an immunosuppressant or immune system modulator drug and is indicated for the treatment of severe itching in dogs. It relieves the symptoms of skin allergies in dogs, i.e. atopic dermatitis or eczema.


Atopic dermatitis is a chronic skin disease in dogs that causes severe itching and irritation which leads to bacterial or fungal skin infections. Itching initiates persistent licking or scratching that may cause infections on the dog’s skin, paws, ears, and other parts of the body.

For atopic dermatitis, the vets prescribe Apoquel medication which is a long-term treatment and highly effective. This medicine is only available on a registered veterinarian prescription. That means you can’t buy it without a vet prescription.

Now jumping back to the primary question, i.e. “What is Apoquel mode of action in dogs?“. I think it’s an important question to answer because many pet owners that have been using this medicine for a long time don’t know how Apoquel helps their dogs in getting rid of itching, rashes, & inflammation?.

Don’t worry, because here I have explained each and everything you need to know about Apoquel pharmacodynamics & pharmacokinetics.

Mechanism of Action

Apoquel is available in oral tablets form that should be taken by the mouth. Within the first hour of the oral administration, oclacitinib gets the peak plasma levels in a dog’s body. Its bioavailability is high but shows low protein bindings. It gets eliminates through the body by metabolism, kidneys, and biliary duct.

How does it work? [Mode of Action]

Apoquel releases quickly in the body after the oral administration. It works on certain types of cytokines (substances that are released by the immune system of a body and perform their specific assigned tasks) that are responsible for causing itching, inflammation (swelling), skin irritations, rashes, and allergic response (pruritis).

Oclacitinib maleate (the generic name for Apoquel) inhibits the action of cytokines that are responsible for the symptoms of atopic dermatitis in dogs. It reduces skin swelling and inflammation, rashes, redness, itching, irritations, hives, etc. Severe itching may cause hair loss in dogs.

Why the Immune System Releases Cytokines that Causes Allergy?

Itching and inflammation on a dog’s skin is a normal response of an immune system against harmful allergens. The immune system releases certain cytokines or histamines that initiate itching and inflammation on different parts of the body.

Allergen could be anything like food, contact with certain things, the environmental factors like dust, dirt, pollen, grass, etc. Even a dog’s immune system mistakenly identifies a food as an allergen (the destroyer or invader) and gives an allergic response.

In the case of atopic dermatitis, the allergen could be anything and may trigger the symptoms. Some researchers believe that atopic dermatitis or eczema in dogs is a genetic level disorder that means some dogs possess certain genes (the functional unit of inheritance) that are responsible for this disease and make dogs prone to eczema.

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for that disease. However, FDA has approved prescription drugs like Apoquel for the treatment of skin allergies in dogs.

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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