Apoquel, scientifically known as Oclacitinib, is a popular medication prescribed by veterinarians to manage itching and inflammation associated with allergic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis in dogs.

It offers relief by targeting specific enzymes in the body that trigger itchiness and inflammation. The purpose of this article is to delve into the availability of Apoquel and address a common query among pet owners: Can Apoquel be purchased over the counter?


Understanding Apoquel

What is Apoquel?

Apoquel is a synthetic selective Janus kinase inhibitor. It is specifically designed for dogs to control itching and inflammation due to allergic skin disease and atopy.

Unlike traditional steroids, Apoquel works specifically on the pathways involved in the itch and inflammation process, which means it can quickly relieve symptoms while minimizing common side effects associated with steroids.

How Apoquel Works

Apoquel operates by suppressing the function of cytokines that are involved in the itch and inflammation process in dogs.

By selectively inhibiting Janus Kinase 1 (JAK1) and Janus Kinase 3 (JAK3), Apoquel effectively reduces the itchiness in a matter of hours and provides relief from inflammation without many of the side effects associated with other treatments like corticosteroids or cyclosporine.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations


Prescription Status in the United States

In the United States, Apoquel is classified as a prescription-only medication. This classification ensures that a veterinarian evaluates your pet to confirm that Apoquel is the appropriate treatment based on the dog’s specific health needs and history.

Why Is Apoquel Prescription-Only?

The prescription-only status of medications like Apoquel is in place to protect animal health. These medications can have significant side effects or require specific dosing that needs a veterinarian’s expertise to manage safely.

By controlling the distribution through prescriptions, there is a reduced risk of misuse and ensures that pets are appropriately diagnosed and treated.

Can Apoquel Be Purchased Over the Counter?

Apoquel cannot be purchased over the counter. It requires a prescription from a licensed veterinarian. This regulation is in place to ensure that a professional assesses your pet’s health condition and decides on the suitability of Apoquel for treatment, considering possible interactions and contraindications.

Recent Regulatory Changes

As of the latest updates, there have been no changes in the regulatory status of Apoquel. It remains a prescription-only medication, emphasizing the importance of veterinary guidance in its administration.

By understanding the specifics about Apoquel, including its mechanism, prescription requirements, and regulatory status, pet owners can better navigate their options and responsibilities when seeking treatment for their pets’ allergies.

Comparison Table: Apoquel vs. Over-the-Counter Alternatives

While Apoquel is a prescription-only medication, there are over-the-counter (OTC) alternatives that pet owners might consider for mild cases of itchiness and discomfort in dogs.

Below is a comparison of Apoquel with some common OTC treatments:

TreatmentEffectivenessSide EffectsCost (Average)
Apoquel (Oclacitinib)Highly effective for allergic and atopic dermatitisPossible side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargyHigher, prescription-only
Omega-3 Fatty AcidsModerately effective for skin health and reducing inflammationGenerally well-tolerated, rare gastrointestinal upsetLower
Oatmeal BathsMild effectiveness for soothing itchy skinVery few, unless allergy to oatmealVery low
Antihistamines (e.g., Benadryl)Varies, often less effective for severe allergiesDrowsiness, dry mouthLower

How to Obtain Apoquel Legally

Steps to Get a Prescription for Apoquel:

  1. Veterinary Consultation: Schedule a visit with your veterinarian to discuss your dog’s symptoms and health history.
  2. Diagnosis: Allow the veterinarian to diagnose your pet, possibly including allergy testing or other diagnostic tests to confirm the cause of the symptoms.
  3. Prescription: If Apoquel is deemed suitable, your veterinarian will write a prescription which you can fill at a vet clinic or a licensed pharmacy.

Importance of Consulting with a Veterinarian:

Consulting with a veterinarian ensures that Apoquel is the right medication for your dog’s specific condition.

Veterinarians can also monitor the dog’s response to the medication and adjust dosages or switch medications if necessary. They will consider all health factors, including potential interactions with other medications your dog might be taking.


Risks of Purchasing Medication Without a Prescription

Health Risks:

  • Inappropriate Treatment: Using the wrong medication or incorrect dosages can worsen your pet’s condition or fail to address the underlying problem.
  • Side Effects: Without proper veterinary guidance, side effects may go unrecognized or become severe.

Legal Implications:

  • Regulatory Actions: Purchasing prescription medications without a prescription is illegal and could result in regulatory penalties.
  • Quality and Safety Concerns: Medications obtained illegally may be counterfeit, expired, or improperly stored, leading to ineffective treatment or health risks.

By understanding the legal and safe pathways to obtaining medications like Apoquel, pet owners can ensure the best care for their pets while adhering to the law.

It’s essential to rely on professional advice and legally obtained medications to avoid the complications associated with unauthorized treatments.



Can I buy Apoquel without a vet prescription?

No, Apoquel cannot be purchased without a prescription. It is classified as a prescription-only medication in the United States, and obtaining it requires a veterinarian’s authorization to ensure it is appropriate and safe for your dog.

Are there any safe over-the-counter alternatives to Apoquel?

While no over-the-counter treatments match Apoquel’s efficacy in controlling severe allergic symptoms, some alternatives can help with mild conditions.

These include omega-3 fatty acid supplements, which can support skin health and reduce inflammation, and oatmeal baths, which can soothe minor irritations.

Antihistamines like Benadryl are also used, but their effectiveness can vary and should be used under veterinary guidance.

What should I do if I can’t afford a vet visit for a prescription?

If affordability is a concern, consider reaching out to local animal shelters or veterinary schools that may offer low-cost clinic services.

Some organizations offer financial assistance or sliding scale fees based on income. Always discuss these concerns with your veterinarian as they may have suggestions or payment plans to help.

Is it legal to buy pet medications from another country?

Purchasing prescription medications from another country without a prescription is generally illegal and risky. Medications obtained in this manner may not meet the safety and efficacy standards set by U.S. regulatory bodies, and there is a risk of receiving counterfeit or expired drugs.


Throughout this discussion, we’ve clarified that Apoquel is a prescription-only medication, essential for managing severe allergic reactions in dogs. This status underscores the importance of veterinary guidance in both diagnosing the condition and determining the most effective treatment.

While over-the-counter alternatives exist, they generally serve milder symptoms and cannot substitute the effectiveness of Apoquel for more severe allergic conditions.

It’s imperative for pet owners to consult with their veterinarians to ensure they receive the best possible care tailored to their pet’s specific needs. This professional oversight is crucial not only for the health and safety of your pet but also for adhering to legal standards concerning pet medications.

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.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

close X

Try The Best Rated Dog Food On Amazon

Ancient grains like grain sorghum, millet, quinoa and chia seed are naturally high in fiber and rich in protein. Unchanged for thousands of years, different grains provide various nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega fatty acids.