Skip to main content

You may have seen us post previously about the dangers of the pet drug, Apoquel. Read on to learn about this harmful drug and a first-hand account from a local Barkery customer.

Understanding the itch relief drug that’s destroying your pet’s immune system

Hate watching your pet suffer from terrible itching? Maybe you’ve heard about Apoquel, the anti-itch cure-all for your dog’s allergies! Before you rush off and purchase this popular option, here are some crucial facts to know about the dangers of this medication.

Apoquel is often prescribed to treat dog’s allergies, specifically to relieve the itching associated with allergic reactions. Apoquel claims to be “safe fast relief” but vets and pet owners alike are spreading the word about the dangers of this popular treatment.


Here’s where Apoquel comes on the scene. Promising “safe fast relief” for you pet’s itching, what many pet owners fail to realize is that Apoquel is not dealing with the source of the issue but instead contributing to greater health damage. Apoquel is an immunosuppressive medication, which means that it restricts certain enzymes that aid in your pet’s immune system. It hinders the kinases that diagnose and address bacteria and viruses in the body. These kinases work to promote your pet’s immune system in a number of ways:

  • Guard against tumor formation
  • Control growth and development
  • Form red and white blood cells
  • Regulate inflammatory response

So essentially, in using Apoquel to reduce your pet’s allergy symptoms, you are actually undermining their immune system and exposing them to developing more serious health issues.


Healthy Chance

Despite warnings that have already gone out about the use of this dangerous drug, many pet owners remain unaware of the effects this medication brings. Meet Chance.

Chance was originally seen by two vets for severe allergies earlier this year. After some apparent improvement through other medications in June, Chance experienced no improvement and instead gradually worsened. Chance’s owners became concerned and switched vets. While the first vet said that Chance had received staph infection due to allergies not being treated correctly, the second vet put Chance on amoxicillin for two weeks. After seeing Chance’s sores worsening in July, the vet declared that he would need to quit the amoxicillin and instead be on Apoquel saying, “It would maybe be the only thing to help him.”

Chance after Apoquel

Chance was given Apoquel twice daily for two weeks. He was no worse off but there was also no improvement. The vet suggested they keep trying Apoquel; after another ten days, Chance’s symptoms were elevated. Chance began to experience inflammation in his facial tissue, bleeding around his eyelids and mouth, and hearing loss. He had swollen jowls, lymph nodes the size of baseballs, warts and had a difficult time breathing and had several sores.

Chance’s owner took him off of Apoquel mid-August and immediately noticed improvements: his lymph nodes returned to normal size; however, his sores were still present, and he began having tremors, nasal wheezing and difficulty eating.

With help from the Barkery, Chance started a raw diet with Colostrum and 5 Defenders plus added Turkey Tail; once he was weaned off Apoquel, he started to act like his normal self. Eating again and back to begging at the dinner table, the swelling in his eyes and jaw were also going down and his hearing returned. Chance’s owner took him to a specialist to get a better diagnosis of his sores and was then told he had already developed some type of Lymphoma cancer. Unfortunately, she lost Chance late September.

Sadly, Chance is not the only victim to Apoquel.  Deva Khalsa VMD’s  article in Dogs Naturally Magazine about why she would never give her dog Apoquel sheds some light on other sad situations: dogs have been euthanized for cancers and for fluid-filled abdomen and chest issues; other dogs have developed mast cell tumors, lymphoma, apocrine gland adenocarcinoma, and painful oral cancer.

Apoquel is out to relieve the symptoms of allergies but the drug does not deal with the root issues; not only that but the drug shows a history of causing other – more extreme – poor health developments in dogs. Apoquel’s “safe fast relief” is a risky and damaging option for temporary relief.


For parasitical infections causing outbreaks of dermatitis, the goal is to get rid of the parasites in order to re-establish healthy skin. This same principle applies to other allergies as well; the key to treating allergies is not to seek to merely address the symptoms, but rather to target the issues at the source. Food intolerances can often be addressed by a diet change; a rotating diet in general may also help so that one certain ingredient isn’t being overloaded into your pet’s system. When it comes to environmental allergies, there are a couple of varying healthy options for your pet.

  1. Clean skin is healthy skin! Giving your dog a bath can be somewhat of a hassle at times; your local Barkery is here to help! Book an appointment now!
  2. Oatmeal Baths or Coconut Oil. Your pet’s skin also needs to stay moisturized. There are even dog lotions on the market!
  3. Other pet owners invest in home air purifiers to help reduce the effects of seasonal allergies.

Whether your pet is in need of an oatmeal shampoo or a change in diet, your local Barkery is more than happy to help you research alternative options to Apoquel!