Your dog is itchy and scratching like crazy, and your vet prescribes your pet a little white pill that is believed to take those allergies away in just 4 HOURS!! They call this drug the APOQUEL. Apoquel is the latest drug to be in the spotlight. Pet owners will try and find the right prescription to make their pet more manageable especially with their annoying allergies, but will this drug be their new friend?

What exactly is apoquel? Why is it controversial? What are FDA’s investigation into this drug? Is this the best way to treat your dog’s allergies? Let’s find out!

What is Apoquel?

Apoquel is the commercial name for oclacitinib maleate. Oclacitinib is the main active ingredient in Apoquel. This medication has always been said to relieve itching by changing the way the immune system functions. When Apoquel enters the bloodstream, it blocks specific enzymes known as Janus kinases. They’re the real culprits when it comes to the itchiness and inflammation associated with atopic dermatitis. 

The amount of itchiness and inflammation decreases when these enzymes are inhibited. This can benefit dogs by preventing them from damaging their skin through itching or rubbing.

But why is Apoquel so controversial?

There is a statement in the Apoquel drug label saying that, “APOQUEL may increase susceptibility to infection, including demodicosis and exacerbate neoplastic conditions (see Adverse Reactions and Animal Safety).”  

There are several reviews saying that soon after their dogs have been taking apoquel, they started to have tumors and/or cancer or if their pet already had cancer, a doctor stated, “apoquel may be causing the cancer to manifest itself quickly,”

 The Journal Broadcast Group’s report warns that these tumors that Apoquel might be causing are nasty and cancerous. The report also says that this drug can potentially cause “life-threatening” side effects. Anyone out there who is taking this drug and has noticed some weird lumps or bumps on their pet should immediately tell their vet and then take their pet to see a specialist.

Let’s see what are some investigations of FDA with Apoquel.

So is Apoquel FDA approved?

Since Apoquel is used to treat allergy symptoms but we are quite unsure of its side effects, is there some other way we could help our dogs combat allergies?

 Well, YES!

 The best treatment for your dog’s allergies is understanding what really the culprit is and giving them the proper diet knowing the right foods to feed them.

So if you suspect any allergy symptoms in your dog, the first step you need to do is to take them to your vet or a pet consultant. For you to be fully aware of their allergy, you might need to do an allergy test. 


    • Not a typical allergy test

    • Tests for antibodies can also show immune responses that are classified as true allergies

    • Recognized by many as the most accurate method to measure your pet’s sensitivities

    • Will provide you with a list of the allergens that are potentially making your pet unhappy or triggering reactions.


    • Will identify non-life-threatening imbalances in the body that maybe causing symptoms such as upset stomach, constant scratching, hair loss, hot spots, paw biting.

    After you have known what your pet is allergic to, the next step is to figure out what food to feed them! So a FOOD REPORT is recommended.

    Back to the apoquel, even though it has been prescribed by many veterinarians, the FDA isn’t quite sure of the drug’s long-term side effects on dogs even though it is approved. We may conclude that Apoquel is just not for everybody, not for every pet. That’s why it’s important to research the drug that your vet prescribes for your pet.