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This article, posted in Dog Naturally's April edition,

gives you a good understanding of why you want to avoid it!

This is a horrible drug with many long lasting side affects,

yet soooooo many vets put our fur babies on it long term.

PLEASE stay away from this drug!

My personal experience with Apoquel:

After a serious hive attack (no idea on cause), my pup was rushed to the ER. Once stabilized, it was suggested that I take her to adermatologist due to the hives and her ongoing excessive itching. He wanted to put her on Apoquel daily forever. He also prescribed 2 other drugs, both with horrible side affects and one actually a danger to her overall health situation.

Before considering anything, I did my homework as I always do. I also spoke to my holistic vet back home in Florida (our ER adventure occurred out of state). The side effects were horrible and the risk for potential cancer super high. We decided to do a 1/2 dose for 7 days only to just get a grasp on this allergy situation she was in. I am sorry we did, as even that short term low dose caused several side affects. I am grateful thou, as without those side affects (excessive drinking, peeing, eating issues, lethargic), I never would had discovered the Adrenal tumor and atypical Cushings I am currently dealing with. If not discovered when I did, who knows what would had happened so a blessing in many ways. Always wonder if the Cushings was a result of the short course of Apoquel, as it was discovered shortly after.

I have always stayed away from the allergy drugs. This was a special situation and we carefully evaluated it. But was it worth it? No, on many levels. NEVER AGAIN! so many safer and natural alternatives.



By: Deva Khalsa VMD (As seen in Dog Naturally April 18, 2019)

Does your dog have allergies? If so, your conventional veterinarian may offer you a popular allergy drug called Apoquel®.

It’s touted as “a fast-acting and safe treatment for the control of acute and chronic canine pruritus.” Pruritus means itching … and if you’ve got an itchy dog you’re probably desperate to make your dog more comfortable and stop his constant scratching. Apoquel is said to ease your dog’s itching in as little as 4 to 24 hours. And dog owners report that it does relieve their dogs’ itching.

Sounds like something you might want to try, right?

Well, not so fast …

Before you expose your dog to the risks associated with this drug, read on. And if your dog is already on Apoquel you’ll probably want to stop the drug as soon as you can, once you find out how it demolishes essential parts of your dog’s internal disease fighting systems.

Allergies And The Immune System

An allergy is an exaggerated and inappropriate response of the immune system. Conventional medicine loves to suppress symptoms.

Suppressing can be defined as getting rid of the symptoms without helping the body to rid itself of the illness or disease. So if allergies are an improper response of the immune system, what are the kinds of drugs that have typically been used to suppress and destroy that same immune system?

The History Of Dog Allergy Drugs

First came prednisolone, prednisone and other steroids, which work by suppressing the functioning of the immune system.

Then, when allergic dogs stopped responding to steroids, veterinarians started using Atopica (cyclosporine). Cyclosporine was initially developed to prevent organ transplant rejections in humans. It works by suppressing the immune system so that the patient doesn’t reject the transplanted organ.

And then they started using it for dogs with allergies. Atopica has a devastating and destructive effect on the immune system. Read what I wrote about Atopica back in 2012.

Atopica is still harming dogs today. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has 17 pages of adverse events (starting on page 452) that have been reported for oral use of Atopica (cyclosporine) in dogs!

Here are just the top 12 from the first page!

Those are some pretty alarming numbers … and it’s ironic that the fifth side effect on the list is pruritus, which means itching – the very thing the drug is designed to stop! And now, there’s another scary allergy drug called Apoquel® (oclacitinib maleate) that suppresses your dog’s immune system in a different way.

Read on to learn what it does.

What is Apoquel And How Does It Work?

Apoquel affects kinases. Kinases are important signaling compounds that the body’s cells use to communicate with each other.

In the 1980s, an Australian chemist discovered some new ones, known as JAK1, JAK2, JAK3 and TKY2.

JAK initially stood for Just Another Kinase but was later renamed Janus Kinase.

JAKs are key elements in controlling both growth and development. These particular JAKs do the work of:

Policing the body against tumor formationControlling body growth and developmentForming white and red blood cellsProviding immunity with proper functioning of your dog’s antibody-producing cells (B cells) and the “policing” cells (T-cells)Regulating inflammatory response

Recognizing the epidemic of dogs with allergies, pharmaceutical companies saw the opportunity to create a drug would stop these JAKs in their tracks.

They sure succeeded.

Oclacitinib maleate, under the brand name Apoquel®, is a Janus kinase inhibitor. That means it stops JAKs from doing their job.

Life-Sustaining JAKs

Apoquel’s mechanism is to interrupt JAKs and prevent them from working.

Without JAKs your dog’s immune system, along with other systems, cannot function correctly.

Without JAKs your dog’s immune system, along with other systems, cannot function correctly.

JAK1 is vital for the constant surveillance within your dog’s body to find and destroy abnormal cells that have become cancerous before they form tumors.

JAK1 also is an imperative messenger necessary for destroying invading parasites, fungi, bacteria and viruses.

JAK2 is central to the production of bone marrow stem cells that then become red and white blood cells and platelets.

Your dog’s antibody system (B cells) and its killer-cell system (T cells) need JAK3 in order to work well.

These JAKs all talk to each other and share information to keep your dog’s body healthy. So you can see that by preventing JAKs from working, Apoquel seriously undermines your dog’s immune system.

What The Research Says

Of course there’s research done to see how dogs react to these drugs. The problem is that the researchers are determining the timelines based on previous studies.

This is what happens … the pharmaceutical company does a very quiet study and notes when problems occur. As an example, if liver problems pop up 12 weeks into the study or tumors start to form 16 weeks into the study, these are carefully logged.

After they know all this they prepare their formal public study and make sure the study ends before the problems show up. If the problems occurred at 12 weeks they publish a 10 week study.

Apoquel research is no different.

A study conducted by the manufacturer to test the drug’s safety and efficacy stated:

“There were no fatalities and no abnormal health events that necessitated hospitalization in either the study phase [day 0–7 (+3 days)] or the continuation phase [day 8–28 (±20 days)] of the study. Given that the majority of dogs in the placebo group withdrew after the completion of the study phase, the incidence of abnormal clinical signs was similar in both groups (Table 3).”

So, it seems from these comments and Table 3 showing adverse effects that the drug is fairly safe …

… but did you notice the duration of the study? That’s right – only 7 days!

There was a “continuation phase” after the 7 day study period, from 8 to 30 days. The researchers report:

“Six dogs (four oclacitinib and two placebo group) were withdrawn from the study during the continuation phase for abnormal health events. Abnormal health events were reported in 11 of 179 oclacitinib-treated dogs post-study. These were as follows: diarrhoea (four dogs; severe enough to warrant cessation of treatment in one dog); vomiting (four dogs); fever, lethargy and cystitis (one dog); an inflamed footpad and vomiting (one dog); and diarrhoea, vomiting and lethargy (one dog).”

So about 6% of dogs tested had abnormal health events. That doesn’t seem very high.

But that was only for 30 days!

If your dog takes this drug, he could be on it for years!

Years when his immune system will be compromised by the drug – because that’s how it works!

And although the manufacturer quotes a study that says it is safe for long term use, the study results say something different. Here are some of the serious side effects:

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.

Is it worth the risk? I don’t think so.

Does Age Matter?

The manufacturer has limited Apoquel for use only in dogs over 12 months old.

That’s because, when they conducted “margin of safety” studies on 6 and 12 month old dogs, they had to discontinue the study for 6-month old dogs when the dogs developed bacterial pneumonia and demodectic mange infections!

Here’s the warning on the company’s website:

Deva Khalsa VMD

Since beginning her holistically oriented veterinary practice over 25 years ago, Dr Deva Khalsa has been incorporating homeopathy, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and nutritional advice into her practice. She also offers her unique Allergy Elimination 4 Pet technique to naturally reboot your pet's inappropriate immune system responses. She's the author of Dr Khalsa's Natural Dog, now in its second edition. Visit her online at

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