Apoquel is Not the Answer
Even if your dog is itchy or uncomfortable, Apoquel is not the answer, despite what your vet may recommend.
Apoquel or oclacitinib is an "immune modulator" and an anti-allergy medication often prescribed to alleviate itchiness. Zoetis, the manufacture of Apoquel, states that the drug has been "prescribed for over 12 million dogs and counting."
12 million dogs and counting is a huge amount. I have to wonder why so many dogs are so itchy or uncomfortable. Were 12 million dogs and counting itchy 50 years ago? The answer is no.
So, what has changed in the last 50 years? Diet. Too many vaccines. Environmental toxins. Those are the changes. Instead of treating the root cause, vets will throw medication at the problem, which temporarily mask the symptoms, but ultimately create more sickness down the road.
Board certified dermatology vets will attribute itchies and allergies to a host of diseases including:
- Flea allergy dermatitis
- Atopic dermatitis
- Food allergy dermatitis
- Contact dermatitis
- Sarcoptic Mange
- Demodectic Mange
Unfortunately, most vets won't actually figure out why this dermatitis is happening in the first place.
All of these diseases are our dogs' immune system telling us that there is inflammation that needs to be healed. Apoquel will definitely not do that because Apoquel is not the answer. When inflammation is present, the immune system will do its' thing and actually try to heal itself because that is what immune systems are for. In fact, infectious disease, trauma, bites and stings, lacerations, all of these heal with inflammation (Read more on that here). However, when inflammation is chronic, the body gets stuck and needs help to heal itself. Apoquel will not help the body get unstuck because apoquel is no the answer.
Apoquel will literally stop inflammation, but will do so by destroying your dog's innate disease-fighting capacities by interfering with enzymes called kinases or JAKs, which are absolutely needed in
- Policing the body against tumor formation
- Controlling body growth and development
- Forming white and red blood cells
- Ensuring antibody-producing B cells and “policing” T-cells are functioning well
- Regulating inflammatory response
(Source: Dogs Naturally Magazine)
So, Apoquel will absolutely stop itchiness initially by suppressing the symptoms and not addressing the root cause, but this suppression will create more long-term illness. Apoquel's website even states that "APOQUEL may increase the chances of developing serious infections, and may cause existing parasitic skin infestations or pre-existing cancers to get worse." (Source: ApoquelDogs)
I think it's important to note that Apoquel, was worth $4.34 billion in 2012 before Apoquel even hit the market It is owned by a pharma company callsed, Zoetis (Source: VitalAnimal), a subsidiary of Pfizer and MARS inc. partner, who basically have a monopoly on the dog food industry. These companies do not care about the health of your dog. They care about profit. Speaking of profit, Zoetis in 2023 has a net worth of $85.52 billion. In 2018, Zoetiss made $434 million from just Apoquel alone.
If the makers of Apoquel, Zoetis, are aware that it could cause cancer, infections and all kinds of complications, then why keep it on the market? The answer is money. Sadly, this is yet another reminder that the veterinary business is in the business of keeping animals alive, not curing animals or keeping them healthy. The schools are funded by the dog food maker, the school is funded by the dog food guy, the dog food guy is also owned by the vaccine guy and the vaccine guy makes the laws on what makes what legal and what is approved.
The silver lining here is that there are healthier and safer alternatives to apoquel. According to this study, 20 dogs with atopic dermatitis, aka the itchies and "were treated by a veterinary homeopath with individualised remedies prescribed on the basis of the dog’s cutaneous signs and constitutional characteristics." The control group was given the placebo and the experimental group was given the homeopathic remedies. The study concluded that the dog owners "correctly distinguished between the placebo and homeopathic remedies, and reported reductions in the pruritus score of 0, 0.2 and 0.8 following placebo treatment and 4.3, 2.4 and 3.0, respectively, following the remedy." Homeopathy works and is gentle and will not cause any side effects. Apoquel is not the answer.
Additionally, if your dog is itchy and you feed kibble, change their diet immediately. Switch to a home-cooked diet or feed raw. This will naturally help your dog heal from excess inflammation by optimizing their digestive and gut health. You can read more about a home-cooked diet here and a raw diet here.
Ultimately, Apoquel is not the answer. Figuring out why your dog is itchy in the first place is. If you need some guidance on how to start helping your dog, please check out Bobzilla's Happy, Healthy Life Made Simple.
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