The safety and efficacy of Apoquel (oclacitinib maleate) in dogs for long-term use are unknown. There are a very short amount of studies that describe the efficacy and safety of this drug (immuno-suppressant) in long-term use.
Apoquel tablets are available in three different strengths, i.e. 3.6mg, 5.4mg, and 16mg, respectively. They work by suppressing the body’s immune system and give instant relief from allergic dermatitis, including pruritus, itching, irritation, redness, swelling, or inflammation on the skin, etc.
The recommended dose of Oclacitinib for dogs is between 0.4mg to 0.6mg per One Kilogram (i.e. 0.18 lbs to 0.27 lbs).
This drug starts working within the first few hours of intake and gives magical results (relief) for more than 12 to 24 hours.
Apoquel® can be used for atopic dermatitis, folliculitis (inflammation of hair follicles on the skin), mange, allergic dermatitis, mild to moderate itching, irritations, etc that are caused by food allergies, environmental allergies, pollen allergies, etc.
Veterinarians suggest a (minimum) dose of 0.18 milligrams to (maximum) 0.27 milligrams per pound once daily for dogs.
However, depending upon the condition (severeness) dose can be adjusted to twice daily.
Here, in this piece of article, I will talk about side effects and adverse reactions that happen because of the continued use of immunosuppressant medications, including oclacitinib.
Effects of Long-Term use of Apoquel In Dogs
Some studies support that oclacitinib can be used for the long term (more than 2 years) because this (composition) didn’t cause any side effects or give unwanted outcomes.
But there are always risks associated with immuno-suppressant drugs when used persistently. Below are some common and major risks that may decrease a dog lifespan associated with Apoquel (long-term) medication;
Risks of developing bacterial, viral, and fungal (yeast) infections increases (sky-high) because of a weakened (suppressed) immune system.
Also, the recovery from such kinda infectious diseases becomes eventually difficult. The immune system is a body’s natural defense system against harmful pathogens, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other microbes.
If a dog has suppressed immune system (because of taking a jak-1 inhibitor, immunosuppressant drug), it becomes significantly hard for the body to recover from that infection which can be life-threatening and fatal for health.
Bone marrow suppression
Weakness, fatigue, lethargy, lack of energy, tiredness, sleepiness, drowsiness, pale and yellowish skin, are some major symptoms of bone marrow suppression in pets.
Bone marrow suppression occurs, because of low blood count in the body. Immunosuppressants cause low blood count and increase the risks of cancer and infectious diseases.
Apoquel tablets suppress the immune system of dogs and are used to get rid of itching, dermatitis, and other skin allergies. However, their long-term use may cause cancer.
A healthy (strong) immune system detects bacterial infections and fights against bacteria, viruses, and other microbes which may cause infectious diseases.
A compromised or suppressed immune system cannot fight against harmful bacteria/viruses or fungi, therefore, these microbes can replicate/grow vigorously and may cause cancer in dogs.
Some studies support that long-term use of immunosuppressants increases the risks of developing cardiovascular disease.
Immunosuppressants, including oclacitinib, may cause gastrointestinal disorders in pets when used continually.
Diarrhea, upset stomach, vomiting, nausea, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), increased thirst, bloating, flatulence, gas, abdominal pain, and cramps are some major side effects of using APOQUEL® for a very long time.
Delayed wound healing
Oclacitinib medication works by pressing the body’s defense system to relieve itching and other allergic reactions of skin in dogs.
Apoquel delays the natural wound healing process, as a suppressed defense system increases the chances of bacterial growth and infection.
The chances of developing a bacterial/viral infection in dogs with a compromised immune system (defense system) are sky-high. Infections delay the wound healing process and create complications.
Is Apoquel Safe For Long-Term In Dogs?
There are diverse studies on Apoquel (oclacitinib) medication that describe its safety when used persistently. Some veterinarians and studies claim that it is safe and great to use on a long basis. However, others suggest that it may cause the deadliest outcomes if used for a long time.
The above article explains all the risk factors and the reasons behind them. Long-term use of Oclatinib (an immunosuppressant FDA-approved drug) may be fatal and leads to life-threatening diseases including cancer.
The best advice to pet owners
Try to figure out the root cause of allergies instead of consuming allergic medications for the long term. Because most of them have side effects and adverse reactions that may be fatal for your dog’s life.