Apoquel is a prescription medication specifically designed to alleviate the symptoms of allergic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis in dogs. It works by targeting and inhibiting certain enzymes involved in the inflammatory process, providing relief from itching and inflammation.

Administering Apoquel correctly is crucial for maximizing its effectiveness and minimizing potential side effects. Understanding whether it should be given with or without food can impact how well the medication works and how your dog responds to it.

This article aims to address a common question among dog owners: Should Apoquel be given with food? We’ll explore the manufacturer’s guidelines, expert opinions, and practical tips to help you make an informed decision.


What is Apoquel?

Apoquel contains the active ingredient oclacitinib, which inhibits the function of enzymes known as Janus kinases (JAKs). By blocking these enzymes, Apoquel reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, thereby controlling the itching and inflammation associated with allergic reactions.

Common Conditions Treated:

Apoquel is primarily used to treat conditions such as:

  • Allergic dermatitis
  • Atopic dermatitis

Benefits of Using Apoquel:

  • Rapid relief from itching
  • Reduction in skin inflammation
  • Improved quality of life for dogs suffering from allergies
  • Minimal long-term side effects compared to other treatments like steroids

Administration of Apoquel: With or Without Food

When giving any medication to your pet, it’s essential to follow the vet’s instructions and the manufacturer’s guidelines. Medications can be affected by food, either enhancing their absorption or causing gastrointestinal issues.

The manufacturer states that Apoquel can be administered with or without food. This flexibility makes it easier for pet owners to incorporate the medication into their dog’s routine.

Veterinarians often recommend administering Apoquel with a small amount of food to reduce the risk of stomach upset, especially if your dog has a sensitive stomach. However, some dogs may not experience any issues taking it on an empty stomach.

Comparison: Apoquel with Food vs. Apoquel without Food

1. Effects

EffectWith FoodWithout Food
Absorption RatesConsistent and steadySlightly faster absorption
Onset of ActionPredictablePossibly quicker

2. Side Effects

Side EffectWith FoodWithout Food
GastrointestinalReduced riskHigher risk for sensitive dogs
Other Side EffectsMinimalMinimal

3. Convenience

ConvenienceWith FoodWithout Food
Ease of AdministrationEasier if mixed with foodEasy for non-picky eaters
Dog’s AcceptanceHigher if mixed with tasty foodDependent on dog’s preference

By following these guidelines and considering your dog’s specific needs and preferences, you can ensure that Apoquel is administered effectively and safely. Always consult with your veterinarian for personalized advice tailored to your pet’s health.


Veterinarian Insights and Research

“Apoquel is a breakthrough in managing allergic dermatitis in dogs. Whether given with or without food, it provides consistent relief. However, for dogs with sensitive stomachs, administering it with a small meal can help prevent gastrointestinal upset.”

Dr. Xeeshan, a renowned veterinarian specializing in dermatology

Recent studies have shown that Apoquel’s absorption is not significantly impacted by food. A clinical trial conducted by the University of Florida found that dogs treated with Apoquel experienced rapid relief from itching within four hours, regardless of food intake.

Another study published in the Journal of Veterinary Dermatology indicated that Apoquel maintained its efficacy over long-term use, with minimal adverse effects noted.

Practical Tips for Administering Apoquel

Tips for Giving Apoquel with Food:

  • Small Meals: Incorporate Apoquel into a small portion of your dog’s regular meal to ensure they ingest the entire dose.
  • Hide in Treats: Use pill pockets or hide the tablet in a piece of cheese or meat to make it more palatable.
  • Consistent Routine: Administer the medication at the same time each day with food to establish a routine.

Tips for Giving Apoquel Without Food:

  • Direct Administration: If your dog is not a picky eater, you can give the tablet directly by placing it at the back of their tongue and gently closing their mouth until they swallow.
  • Hydration: Ensure your dog has access to plenty of water, which can help with the absorption of the medication.

What to Do if Your Dog Refuses the Medication:

  • Flavor Enhancers: Crush the tablet and mix it with a small amount of wet food or a tasty broth.
  • Alternative Forms: Ask your veterinarian if there are other forms of the medication, such as a compounded liquid, that might be easier for your dog to take.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Reward your dog with a treat or affection after taking the medication to create a positive association.


Apoquel is a highly effective medication for managing allergic conditions in dogs. It can be given with or without food, but administering it with food may help prevent stomach upset in some dogs. Recent research supports its efficacy and safety, providing relief from itching and inflammation.

Based on the gathered information, it is generally safe to give Apoquel with or without food. However, monitoring your dog’s response and consulting with your veterinarian can ensure the best results.

Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s medication routine. Personalized advice from a professional will ensure that your pet receives the best care possible.


Does Apoquel Need to Be Given with Food?

No, Apoquel does not need to be given with food. However, giving it with a small meal can help prevent potential stomach upset in sensitive dogs.

What Happens if I Give Apoquel Without Food?

Administering Apoquel without food may lead to faster absorption in some dogs. If your dog has a sensitive stomach, it might experience mild gastrointestinal upset, but this is not common.

Can I Mix Apoquel with Treats or Wet Food?

Yes, mixing Apoquel with treats or wet food can make it easier for your dog to take the medication. Pill pockets or small pieces of cheese are effective options.

What Are the Side Effects of Apoquel When Given with or without Food?

Common side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. These are generally mild and can be managed by adjusting the administration method or dosage.

How Long Does It Take for Apoquel to Work?

Apoquel typically starts working within 4 hours of administration. Full effects are usually observed within 24 hours, regardless of whether it is given with or without food.

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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