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Did you know that allergy and itch issues are the #1 reason pets are seen at the vet?

It’s true. And if you happen to be a pet owner that has a four-legged friend that suffers from allergies, itching and inflammation, you’re all too familiar with the endless vet trips, creams, medications, etc. that go hand-in-hand with this unfortunate problem. And how many times have you resorted to Benadryl? Your pet has likely also been given one of the following diagnoses for the cause:

  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Food allergy dermatitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Sarcoptic mange
  • Demodectic mange

And in 2014, Apoquel comes onto the scene and is initially touted as a miracle drug for itchy dogs. Hooray! But not so fast – isn’t it true that anything deemed a cure-all is usually proven otherwise over time?

How it Works (and Doesn’t)

The immune system is vital to our, and our pets, survival. When we experience an immune event, AKA “cascade”, a series of chemical messages and events occur that help us recover and get back to healthy, much like when we have a virus and our immune system goes to work to help us bounce back. Cytokines are one of the groups of immune messengers at play. These small molecules signal cells to address infection, activate chemicals, etc. In short, they help us heal.

Side Effects

Now, guess what happens to be an immunosuppressant? You called it: Apoquel. Apoquel essentially shuts cytokines down. Now apply this knowledge to your itchy pet. If you’ve given your dog Apoquel, have you noticed any of the following issues?

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • New cutaneous lumps
  • New subcutaneous lumps
  • Increased lipase and cholesterol
  • Pneumonia
  • UTIs
  • Skin infections
  • Ear infections
  • Histiocytomas
  • Increased aggression
  • Development of polydipsia

Here are some of the long-term serious issues that have been reported due to use of the drug, taken from Dogs Naturally Magazine:

  • One dog was euthanized after developing abdominal ascites and pleural effusion of unknown etiology after 450 days of APOQUEL administration.
  • Six dogs were euthanized because of suspected malignant neoplasms.
  • Two dogs each developed a Grade II mast cell tumor after 52 and 91 days.
  • One dog developed low grade B-cell lymphoma after 392 days.
  • Two dogs each developed an apocrine gland adenocarcinoma (one dermal, one anal sac) after approximately 210 and 320 days.
  • One dog developed a low-grade oral spindle cell sarcoma after 320 days.

So Now What?

So, how can you give your itchy pup some relief?


Food allergies don’t end with humans. Sometimes simply changing your dog’s food can make a world of difference for their allergies. Check out our Pet Wellness Assessment Kit to pinpoint your pet’s food intolerances or ask any Barkery team member for advice on what might help make a difference for your dog when stop in!

Bathing Regularly

Regular baths will help to reduce symptoms associated with allergies. And of course, we can definitely help you with this at the Barkery!

Flea Protection

A single flea bite can cause an allergic reaction that will drive your pup insane! We highly recommend trying a natural flea allergy remedy as conventional flea medication has a slew of potential adverse reactions for your pup. Check out our online store for some more natural treatment options.


Animal gut health is also crucial to keeping your pup happy – and hopefully itch-free. Check out our supplement options here.


CBD oil supports pups with sensitive skin – helping them maintain calmer skin. We offer a wide range of CBD oils for dogs – stop in to browse our selection and find out which one will work best!

Now that you’re up to speed on treating your pup’s itchiness with natural remedies instead of a medicine with a dark side, time to get your pup some relief!