By Jennifer Reed

Itchiness, or pruritis, is a very common problem in dogs. It can be caused by a number of factors, including infections, parasites and allergies.

Four types of allergies most commonly affect dogs. These include flea allergies, food allergies, contact allergies and transdermal or inhalant allergies, also known as atopy or atopic dermatitis. Allergies are considered to be any of the common responses to pollens, flea bites and foods that result in itching.


Depending on the type of allergy, treatment typically includes a combination of anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids, antihistamines and immune-modifying medications (cyclosporine), medicated shampoos, topical sprays, parasite control and omega fatty acids.

Apoquel is not a steroid, cyclosporine or antihistamine. Instead, it belongs to a class of drugs called Janus kinase inhibitors, which target the signaling pathway that results in itching and inflammation. The first drug in its class to be approved for veterinary use, Apoquel is specifically designed to address the source of the itch, providing fast-acting relief and minimal side effects.

Apoquel works regardless of the type of allergy and can start to relive the itch in as little as four hours. It may be used long-term for chronic skin issues or short-term to treat flare-ups.

Treatment with Apoquel consists of administering two doses per day for up to 14 days. After 14 days, only one dose per day will be needed. Apoquel may be given with or without food.

Apoquel is safe for use in healthy dogs over one year of age. It is not approved for use in cats.

Because dogs can mask signs of infection, it is important to see your veterinarian every six months while he/she is taking Apoquel.

Is your dog allergic?

Symptoms of allergies include:

  • Excessive licking, chewing, biting or scratching

  • Excessive rolling, rubbing or scooting

  • Chewing or licking the feet

  • Hair loss

  •  Recurrent ear problems

  • Changes in the skin, like sores or darkened color

  • Redness of the skin

  • Odor

If your dog is itchy or you suspect he/she may be suffering from allergies, please schedule an exam and ask your veterinarian if Apoquel may be right for him/her.