Here in the following piece of article, I am going to answer each and every question that may arise in your brain regarding the uses of Apoquel (Oclacitinib maleate) Tablets for dogs, cats, humans, and others.

Not only you but the majority of pet owners remain worried about their pet’s medication and do care about the long-term side effects that a dog may face after using prescription drugs.



What is the Apoquel (Oclacitinib maleate)?


Oclacitinib maleate is the generic name for Apoquel. It is an immune system modulator drug that has been used for the treatment of atopic dermatitis in dogs. Atopic dermatitis is a chronic disease and could make your dog miserable and weak.

It relieves the signs and symptoms of allergies by affecting specific types of cytokines that cause inflammation, itchiness, redness, swelling, rashes, hives, and other skin disorders in dogs.

Apoquel contains Oclacitinib maleate which is also known as JAK (Janus Kinase) 1 & 2 Inhibitor as it breaks the cytokines signals and provides quick relief from allergy.

This medication is specifically used to treat atopic dermatitis (eczema) in dogs, however, it may also be used to relieve the symptoms of other skin allergy disorders, caused by food allergy, environmental allergy, folliculitis, dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), grass or pollen allergy, etc.

FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved this drug for dogs as it provides instant relief from allergy symptoms and rarely causes any side effects in healthy dogs (who don’t have any other disease like diabetes, heart, liver, or kidney disorder).

So, above is the all basic information you must know before asking any questions to your pet’s veterinarian, and now I am pretty sure that knowing the below Myths and their answers could help you to take care of your dog better than others.

Does Apoquel Require Bloodwork?


Apoquel is an immunosuppressant treatment that works by suppressing the defense system of a living body. It’s crucial to take some blood tests before prescribing it to dogs. Blood tests may include CBC (Complete Blood Count), Liver, Heart, and kidney basic blood tests, etc.

Also if a dog has a bacterial/viral/fungal infection or is suffering from other diseases i.e. Cancer, etc. It would never be a good idea to use Oclacitinib medication for that dog. It is because Apoquel may delay the healing process of an infection and may worsen the condition.

So the short answer for that question, “does Apoquel require bloodwork?” is YES. It’s crucial to take some essential blood tests before prescribing this medicine to a dog. However, it’s 100% up to a veterinarian whether he/she seems it is required or not.

Is Apoquel Available in Injection Form?

No, It doesn’t come in intra-muscular or intra-venous injection form. Apoquel (Oclacitinib maleate) is available in oral tablet form that could be taken once or twice a day or as directed by a veterinarian. Zoetis Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Pfizer pharma has provided this medication in Oral tablet form and in three different potencies, i.e. 3.6mg, 5.4mg, and 16mg, respectively.

Antibiotic injection for Dogs

Does Apoquel Expire?


Yes, like other prescription drugs Apoquel oral tablets do expire on their expiration date that is mentioned on their packing. The expiry date for the APOQUEL pill is from 18 months to 02 Years.

Always check the expiry date before buying any kinds of medicines for you and your pets. It’s because expired medicines could be effectless or may cause other side effects or adverse reactions in the body, i.e. vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), itching, inflammation, swelling, etc.

Is Apoquel FDA Approved?


Yes, APOQUEL is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medication for dogs (only). Some veterinarians find it useful and beneficial for treating itchy skin in other canines.

The off-label or extra-label use of Oclacitinib maleate (brand name: Apoquel) has also been observed due to its high efficacy and good feedback by pet owners. It starts working within the same day and your pet feels comfortable and itch-free.

This drug is not available over-the-counter (OTC) and you will need a valid veterinarian prescription for buying it online or from your nearby drugstore.

Do You Have to Wean Off Apoquel?


No, oclacitinib maleate medication could be stopped suddenly and could be re-started again (as needed). It doesn’t cause addiction to the body and has fewer side effects than steroids (like prednisone, dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, betamethasone, etc).

You don’t need to wean off Apoquel in dogs, however, it would be better if you consult your pet’s veterinarian before pulling off the Apoquel treatment. It is because the signs and symptoms of allergies may come back within a few days after your dog stopped this medication.

Can Apoquel Make a Dogs Thirsty?


You may observe increased thirst in your pet during the Apoquel treatment. It is important for your dog to stay hydrated while treating itchy skin, swelling or inflammation on the skin, rashes, dermatitis, atopic dermatitis, rashes, etc.

This is normal and you don’t need to be worried about that. However, you may consider other side effects that could be harmful and life-threatening to your dog, i.e. diarrhea, infections, vomiting, lethargy, weakness, etc.

Is Apoquel Addictive to Dogs?


The short and quick answer to this question is a big NO. Apoquel (Oclacitinib maleate) medication is not addictive to pets and you don’t need to wean off this drug. The treatment can be stopped and maybe re-started as needed or as directed by a veterinarian.

But one thing you must keep in mind is that Apoquel medication only helps to relieve the symptoms of allergies in dogs. It is not a permanent solution for allergies.

It means when the treatment has stopped the signs of allergies may also reoccur. Always consult a vet before giving or pulling off any kind of prescription drugs from your pets.

Apoquel Elevates Liver Enzymes – MYTH


The answer to this question is a little complicated.

#01:Apoquel elevates the liver enzymes and could be harmful or even life-threatening for dogs.”

#02: “Apoquel doesn’t elevate or increase liver enzymes and is safe to use in healthy dogs

So, both the above statements are legit and true. Apoquel (Oclacitinib maleate) doesn’t increase liver enzymes or causes a liver malfunction in healthy dogs who don’t have a pre-existed liver disorder. 

However, Apoquel could definitely increase or elevate the liver enzymes and could cause a liver malfunction in dogs that have already been suffering from liver damage.

So, pet owners must be careful and vigilant if their pet’s vet prescribes OCLACITINIB MALEATE medication to their pet while their pet is suffering from liver disease. It happens in very rare cases but some veterinarians don’t bother to take liver (blood) tests before prescribing this drug to a dog which may result in fatal health conditions.

What is the Main Ingredient in Apoquel?


The main ingredient in the Apoquel pill is the “Oclacitinib maleate“. It is an immune system suppressant or modulator drug that is FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved medication for itchy skin in dogs. It treats atopic dermatitis and other skin allergy disorders in dogs.

Can Apoquel be Used with Antihistamines?


Only a veterinarian may decide whether the risks overweight the benefits of using Apoquel medication with antihistamine drugs.

Nevertheless, Oclacitinib maleate (brand name: Apoquel) doesn’t interact with antihistamine drugs and could be used along with diphenhydramine, cetirizine, ebastine, and other drugs.

In case of adverse reactions, you must revisit your pet’s clinic and consult about your pet’s condition. Using Apoquel with antihistamines is safe but in fewer (rare) cases it may show side effects like vomiting, dizziness, sleepiness, lethargy, loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, increase in thirst, itchiness, swelling, etc.

Is Apoquel an Immunosuppressant Drug?


Yes, Apoquel tablets contain the active ingredient, “oclacitinib maleate” which is an immune system suppressant drug. It works by suppressing the immune system’s response against allergens.

Is Apoquel Toxic to Humans?

Yes, Apoquel may cause toxicity in humans. Humans should avoid drugs that are specifically approved to treat certain disorders in dogs. Oclacitinib maleate is the drug that is FDA approved to treat allergies in dogs and should never be used in humans as it may cause vision problems.

What Happens If a Human Takes Apoquel?


Apoquel may cause side effects in humans, i.e. blurred vision, certain digestive system disorders (vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, GERD, ulcers, abdominal cramps or pain, etc), itching, swelling, dizziness, sleepiness, bacterial infection, headache, lethargy, anorexia, etc.

Oclacinitb maleate is only useful for dogs and no clinical studies have been performed on the advantages or disadvantages of Apoquel for humans. Must consult a doctor before taking any kinds of drugs otherwise you may face fatal outcomes.

Does Apoquel Make Dogs Urinate More?


Apoquel contains an immune system modulator or suppressant drug and is used to relieve the symptoms of allergies in dogs. It doesn’t belong to diuretics (like furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, etc) that cause increased urination and help to treat blood pressure and other certain disorders including edema (fluid retention) disorder.

If you see increased urination in your pet since the consumption of Apoquel, you may consider re-visiting your pet’s clinic and may consult the condition as it could be a side effect that may lead to other disorders or may damage your pet’s kidneys.

Can Apoquel Make Dog Aggressive?


It is an allergy medicine and has nothing to do with the psychology of your dog. The short answer is, NO. Apoquel doesn’t make your dog aggressive (directly) but the side effects it has for dogs may initiate the aggressive behavior of your dog.

Is Apoquel for Dogs a Steroid?


No, Apoquel doesn’t belong to steroids, i.e. prednisone, dexamethasone, betamethasone, hydrocortisone, etc. This is an immunosuppressant drug that works on specific cytokines that are released by the immune system and relieve the signs and indications of allergies in dogs.

Unlike, steroids it has fewer side effects and can be used in long term.

Apoquel Under 12 Months – Myth


Probably, you have heard that using Apoquel medication for dogs under one year old is harmful and dangerous. And now you’re thinking, “Can I Use Apoquel medicine for my Dog under 12 months?“.

The short and quick answer to this question is, No. You shouldn’t use this immune system suppressant drug in dogs that have compromised or weak immunity. It works by suppressing the defense system of a living body and may increase the risks of serious complications if used in puppies (dogs under one year old) or old dogs.

Can You Stop Apoquel Suddenly?


Yes, unlike other drugs (like prednisone, betamethasone, etc) it can be stopped suddenly and you don’t need to wean off Apoquel in dogs. Symptoms reoccur after stopping Apoquel for dogs. Must consult with your pet’s doctor before pulling off Oclacitinib medication in your furry friend.

Does Apoquel Make Dogs Constipated?


Yes, this is possible. The side effects of Apoquel pills may include constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), ulcers, abdominal pain or cramps, etc. Apoquel rarely causes these kinds of adverse reactions in dogs and is highly recommended (and safe) prescription medicine for dogs. It treats swelling, itching, redness, rashes, hives, etc. really well and rarely causes side effects like Constipation.

Does Apoquel Kill Fleas?


NO! Apoquel doesn’t kill fleas. However, it could be used to treat swelling, inflammation, itching, irritations, redness, rashes on the skin, etc.

Does Apoquel Help with Sneezing?

Apoquel is a well-known and recommended treatment for certain skin disorders in dogs that are difficult to treat with antihistamines and steroids (for the long run). It works on specific cytokines (the immune system signals) that cause itching, swelling, redness, rashes, etc on the dermis and is indicated for atopic dermatitis (eczema).

The short answer to this question is, Not effectively. Apoquel is not indicated for the treatment of Sneezing in dogs.

Benadryl (generic name: Diphenhydramine) is the best available antihistamine treatment for sneezing in dogs. It’s available OTC (over the counter) without a vet prescription.

Is Apoquel Just for Dogs?


Yes, it is FDA approved only to relieve the allergy symptoms including itching, skin irritations, rashes, redness, swelling or inflammation, hives, etc. in dogs.

Humans, cats, and other living organisms are not allowed to take this drug. Some vets use this drug in felines (in controlled doses) to treat certain skin disorders as an extra-label medicine. But there are zero to no clinical studies that have been performed on the efficacy and outcomes of using Apoquel medication in cats. So the chances of side effects are huge and could be fatal (in some cases).

Does Apoquel Help with Itchy Ears?


Yes, Apoquel may help to reduce the itchiness of your dog’s ears, paws, and other parts of the body as it works on cytokines released by the body’s immune system and reduces swelling (inflammation), skin irritations, discomfort, redness, etc.

Your dog’s itchy ears could be an alarming sign of other health issues. Apoquel may suppress the symptoms but it’s a wise idea to diagnose the root cause (carefully) which may be an infection, dryness, wax, etc. Visit a pet’s clinic along with your furry pale and consult the condition with a professional medical physician.

Is Apoquel an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug)?


A big NO. Apoquel doesn’t belong to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It is an immune system modulator drug and is specifically formulated to treat itchy skin in dogs. It doesn’t treat pain but may reduce skin swelling or inflammation by inhibiting the JAK (Janus Kinase) 1 & 2.

Where Is Apoquel Manufactured?


The Apoquel manufacturer is Zoetis pharma which has a bunch of manufacturing plants in the United States of America and in Europe. Manufacturing information is labeled on the packing and you may easily locate where the product (Apoquel pills) has been manufactured.


How Is Apoquel Metabolized?


Apoquel metabolites in the liver and excretes from the body by the liver & kidneys. It has a specific metabolic pathway P450 in the body.

Apoquel Missed Dose – Myth


What should you do if you forgot to give your dog Apoquel? or Should You Give Apoquel Twice If you forgot your dog’s Apoquel dose? So these are the common questions that arise in your mind if your pet has missed the Apoquel dose.

No worries, you don’t need to give your pet Apoquel dose twice or double if your furry pale has missed the Apoquel dose. If you give the missed dose with a regular dose, it will be considered as a double dose which may cause side effects and may disturb your pet’s digestive system.

Apoquel Liquid


It is only available in oral tablet form and not recommended for puppies or dogs under one year (12 months) old. Also, no topical applications of Apoquel (creams, ointments, lotion, spray) are available to treat itchy skin in dogs.

Apoquel is available in 3.6mg, 5.4mg, and 16mg oral tablets form. It does treat signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs well and is highly recommended by veterinarians.

Apoquel Lawsuit

If you’re considering filing a lawsuit against Zoetis pharmaceuticals regarding their Product APOQUEL, you must read this section of the article. Some folks thought the Oclacitinib maleate may cause serious complications or diseases in their pets which is not TRUE.

Oclacitinib maleate, the active ingredient in Apoquel medication, doesn’t cause Cancer, Liver damage, Kidney disorder, UTIs, Respiratory tract problems, or Upset digestive system in dogs. But it may increase the worsen these conditions. That means if your dog has already a kidney, liver, or cancer disorder Apoquel Medication may increase the intensity of these disorders and may reduce the lifespan of your pet.

It’s completely a veterinarian’s responsibility to do his homework completely before prescribing this medication to a dog. Un-necessary or contra-indicated usage of this medicine may result in life-threatening or fatal outcomes.

Summary Table Apoquel: Key Benefits, Common Myths, and FAQs for Your Pet’s Health

TopicDescriptionMyth or Fact
Generic NameOclacitinib maleateFact
Primary UseTreatment of atopic dermatitis and other skin allergies in dogsFact
FDA ApprovalApoquel Approved for use in dogsFact
FormOral tablets (not available in injection form)Fact
Requires BloodworkEssential before prescribing to ensure safetyFact
ExpirationYes, has an expiration date (18 months to 2 years)Fact
Addiction RiskNot addictive, can be stopped and restarted as neededFact
Usage with AntihistaminesCan be used with antihistamines, but vet consultation is necessaryFact
Impact on Liver EnzymesDoes not elevate in healthy dogs, but may affect dogs with pre-existing liver conditionsFact & Myth
Main IngredientOclacitinib maleateFact
Human UseNot for human use, can cause side effectsFact
Effect on UrinationNot a diuretic, but if increased urination is observed, consultation with a vet is advisedFact
Aggression in DogsNot known to cause aggression directlyFact
SteroidNo, it’s an immunosuppressantFact
Use in Dogs Under 12 MonthsNot recommended due to immune system suppressionFact
Sudden DiscontinuationCan be stopped suddenly without weaning offFact
Constipation in DogsPossible side effectFact
Flea TreatmentDoes not kill fleasFact
Treatment for SneezingNot effective for treating sneezing in dogsFact
Species SpecificityApoquel Approved for use only in dogsFact

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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