Your dog is itchy, he/she is uncomfortable. You want to fix it and your vet says apoquel is the answer.
It is definitely not the answer. Read on.
Apoquel or oclacitinib is an "immune modulator" and an anti-allergy medication often prescribed to alleviate the dreaded itchies. Zoetis, the manufacture of Apoquel, states that the drug has been "prescribed for over 12 million dogs and counting."
12 million dogs is a huge amount. Perhaps instead of throwing medication at the symptoms and suppressing the root cause, vets should think about why so many dogs are itchy in the first place? I would absolutely attribute the increase in allergies and disease in general to too many vaccines and poor diet.
Board certified dermatology vets will attribute the itchies 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 aka the itchies are our dogs' immune system telling us that there is inflammation that needs to be healed (and apoquel definitely will not do that). When inflammation is present, the immune system will do its' thing and actually try to heal itself because nature, by design, is awesome. 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 and or the itchies are chronic, the body needs help to heal itself. Here is where a homeopathic detox and healthy diet come in and Apoquel or steroids should absolutely not.
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 the itchies initially by suppressing the symptoms and not addressing the root cause, ultimately creating more long-term illness. Even crazier, Apoquel even states on their website 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, worth $4.34 billion in 2012 before Apoquel even hit the market, is owned by Zoetis (Source: VitalAnimal), a subsidiary of Pfizer and collaborator of MARS inc., who basically have a monopoly on the dog food industry. Further, Zoetis reported a full year revenue of $7,400 - $7,550 billion (Source BusinessWire).
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.
(Image Sources Mars Petcare and Pfizer Canada)
The silver lining here is that there are healthier and safer alternatives to apoquel, which is homeopathy. 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.
So what do you do when your dog has the itchies?
- Do not give Apoquel or stop giving it immediately
- Ask your vet questions
- Do your own research
- Check out Bobzilla's "Healthy, Happy Life Made Simple" Quiz
- Home cook or feed raw
- Work with an integrative vet