Apoquel (oclacitinib maleate) has emerged as a beacon of relief for dogs suffering from allergic dermatitis, providing a novel approach to managing itchiness and inflammation associated with allergic skin conditions.

This medication, specifically designed for canines, operates by targeting the Janus kinase (JAK) enzymes, which play a crucial role in the itching sensation and inflammation.

By inhibiting these enzymes, Apoquel effectively reduces the symptoms of allergic dermatitis, including itching, redness, and swelling, thereby improving the quality of life for dogs with this condition.

The administration of medication to pets, however, comes with its own set of challenges, particularly when dealing with oral tablets.

Some dogs may resist swallowing pills, prompting pet owners to consider alternative methods of administration to ensure their furry friends receive the necessary treatment.


This raises an important question: Is it safe to crush Apoquel tablets for dogs?

Understanding the proper administration methods is crucial not only for the effectiveness of the treatment but also for the safety of the pet.

Understanding Apoquel

Apoquel’s active ingredient, oclacitinib maleate, represents a significant advancement in veterinary medicine, specifically targeting the pathways involved in allergic itch and inflammation without the steroid-related side effects commonly seen with other treatments.

This selectivity allows Apoquel to provide rapid relief from allergic symptoms, typically within 24 hours of administration, making it a preferred choice for both veterinarians and pet owners.

The significance of following prescribed dosing methods cannot be overstated. The effectiveness of Apoquel, like any medication, relies heavily on its administration in the manner tested and approved by regulatory bodies.


This ensures that the drug is not only effective but also safe for the animal. Deviating from these methods, such as by altering the physical state of the tablet, could potentially impact the drug’s performance and the pet’s health.

Given the complexities involved in medicating pets, especially those reluctant to take pills, the question of whether Apoquel tablets can be safely crushed is of paramount importance.

This inquiry not only addresses the practical aspects of administering the medication but also underscores the need for adherence to guidelines that safeguard the well-being of pets.

Can You Crush Apoquel Tablets?

When it comes to modifying the form of Apoquel tablets, the manufacturer’s guidelines provide clear instructions. Zoetis, the pharmaceutical company behind Apoquel, advises against altering the tablet’s integrity, including crushing.

This recommendation stems from the tablet’s design to be administered orally as a whole, ensuring the precise delivery of the active ingredient, oclacitinib maleate, to the dog.

Potential Risks Associated with Crushing Tablets

  1. Dosage Inaccuracy: Crushing Apoquel tablets can lead to uneven distribution of the medication, posing a risk of under-dosing or overdosing. Precise dosage is crucial in managing allergic dermatitis effectively and safely.
  2. Impact on Efficacy: Altering the physical state of the tablet might affect the drug’s absorption rate and overall effectiveness. The tablet’s coating and formulation are designed for optimal release and absorption of the active ingredient.
  3. Safety Concerns: There’s also a possibility of exposure to the drug by the pet owner during the crushing process, which could be a concern, especially for individuals with sensitivities or allergies to the medication.

Safe Administration Practices


For dogs who have difficulty swallowing pills, there are safer alternatives to ensure they receive their necessary treatment without compromising the integrity of the medication:

  1. Use of Pill Pockets: Soft treats designed to encapsulate the tablet can make administration easier and more appealing to the dog.
  2. Compounding Services: Some veterinarians may offer compounding services to create a liquid formulation of Apoquel, ensuring accurate dosing in a form that’s easier to administer.
  3. Behavioral Techniques: Training your dog to take pills from your hand or mixed with a small amount of food (ensuring the food is consumed entirely) can be effective. However, always consult your vet before mixing medication with food to ensure compatibility.

Tips from Veterinarians

  • Always administer Apoquel with or without food consistently, as per your veterinarian’s instructions, to maintain consistent absorption.
  • If your dog spits out the pill, consult your veterinarian for alternative administration methods rather than crushing the tablet.

Dosage Adjustments and Considerations


There may be instances where dosage adjustments of Apoquel are necessary:

  1. Veterinary Guidance: Any changes to your dog’s Apoquel dosage should only be made under the guidance of a veterinarian. Factors such as weight changes, progression of the dermatitis, or the development of side effects may necessitate adjustments.
  2. Monitoring Response: Regular monitoring of your dog’s response to Apoquel is essential. Observe for changes in symptoms, potential side effects, or any concerns that arise during treatment.
  3. Continuous Communication with Your Vet: Keep an open line of communication with your veterinarian, providing updates on your dog’s condition and response to the medication. This ensures that any necessary adjustments are made promptly and appropriately.

While the challenge of administering tablets to dogs who are reluctant to swallow them is understood, crushing Apoquel tablets is not recommended due to the potential risks and impact on the medication’s effectiveness.

Exploring alternative administration methods, adhering to veterinary advice, and ensuring accurate dosing are paramount in safely managing your dog’s allergic dermatitis with Apoquel.


Can crushing Apoquel affect its effectiveness?

Yes, crushing Apoquel tablets can potentially affect its effectiveness. The tablet’s formulation is designed for oral administration in its whole form to ensure proper absorption and efficacy.

Altering the tablet can change how the active ingredient is released and absorbed by the body, which might reduce its effectiveness in treating allergic dermatitis.

What should I do if my dog refuses to take Apoquel as prescribed?

If your dog is resistant to taking Apoquel as prescribed, consult with your veterinarian for advice. They may suggest using pill pockets, which are treats designed to hide the tablet, or may offer other strategies to help administer the medication effectively without altering its form.

Are there any side effects of modifying Apoquel tablets?

Modifying Apoquel tablets, such as by crushing, can lead to dosage inaccuracy, which might result in either an underdose or overdose, potentially causing adverse effects or diminishing the drug’s effectiveness.

Always follow the prescribed method of administration to avoid any risks.

How can I ensure my dog gets the accurate dose if the tablet is crushed?

Given the risks associated with crushing Apoquel tablets, it’s recommended to avoid doing so. If administering the medication in its prescribed form is challenging, seek advice from your veterinarian for alternative methods to ensure your dog receives the accurate dose safely.

Can I mix crushed Apoquel with food or water?

Mixing crushed Apoquel with food or water is not recommended without consulting your veterinarian.

The effectiveness and absorption of the medication could be compromised when altered or mixed with food or water.

Your veterinarian can provide guidance on safe and effective administration techniques suited to your dog’s needs.


In summary, while pet owners may face challenges in administering tablets to dogs, it’s crucial to adhere to the recommended administration methods for Apoquel. Altering the tablet by crushing can affect the medication’s effectiveness and safety, leading to potential risks for your pet.

The importance of consulting with a veterinarian cannot be overstated; they can provide professional advice and alternative strategies tailored to your dog’s specific needs and circumstances.

Maintaining the well-being of your dog while managing allergic conditions requires a partnership between pet owners and veterinarians.

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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