There is a new and exciting drug available for skin disease in dogs.
Apoquel is a completely new compound that acts to block the receptors in the skin that trigger inflammation and itch. The drugs we have relied on previously - mainly prednisone and cyclosporine - both stop itching by suppressing the immune system in its entirety. Apoquel is much more specific - the receptors it targets are responsible for sending ‘text messages' to other cells telling them to release inflammatory compounds into the surrounding skin. Apoquel blocks text messages at the source - like a parental lock for skin inflammation!
The benefits of Apoquel are:
- Fewer side effects than prednisone, which can cause increased hunger, thirst, and urination, a predisposition to diabetes and infection, adrenal gland suppression and Cushing's disease.
- Excellent control of allergy-induced itch, even in food allergic dogs, whose itch is not well controlled by prednisone.
- Apoquel is safe to use with most other common medicines, flea/worm treatments and vaccinations. It also doesn't require a tapering dose as prednisone does.
As with nearly all the drugs we use, Apoquel is not perfect and there are some possible side-effects that were reported in low numbers in the clinical trials. Transient tummy upsets may occur; there may be an increase in papillomas (a benign warty skin growth) and if your pet does have a pre-existing cancer then Apoquel is not recommended. Despite this the drug is extremely popular in America, where they have been using up all the supplies for the last three years - hence only now is it finally available in New Zealand!
So if you have a beloved dog who is struggling with itch, come and have a chat - this may be the drug for you!