APOQUEL SIDE EFFECTS: WHAT WE KNOW AS OF 11/2015
Veterinarians have been prescribing Apoquel for itch control for dogs for about two years. It is a very effective, relatively new drug. It was tested extensively before it was approved for use by the FDA, and the incidence of side effects was very low.
Plumbs is the drug formulary that most veterinarians use; Plumbs states the following about Apoquel:
Due to its recent approval and limited clinical use, oclacitinib’s adverse effect profile is not fully known. Most commonly gastrointestinal effects (vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia), polydipsia (increased thirst) or lethargy have been noted but other potentially serious adverse effects, including susceptibility to infections (e.g., pneumonia, demodicosis), neoplasia, and skin disorders are possible.
The Veterinary Information Network is a vast internet database of veterinary information that also features a message board that allows practitioners around the world to consult with each other and specialists. There are a number of posts on the message boards by practitioners asking if anyone is seeing any of the problems mentioned as possibilities is Plumbs.
The answer is always "no, nothing serious, and, for the not-serious problems, only rarely". These answers come from specialist dermatologists as well as general practitioners, and from veterinarians who have treated hundreds of patients with Apoquel.
So, could a dog possibly have a serious reaction to Apoquel? Yes, but it would be highly unusual, and no more likely than it would be with any well-known commonly-used medication that is considered very safe.
Apoquel remains in a patient's body for only a short time after it is administered. If we suspect that a dog has a symptom like loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or increased thirst due to Apoquel, discontinuing the medication should bring about a rapid resolution of the problem.
Which leads to one more perspective: Apoquel is typically used for long periods of time. Symptoms and problems like those listed in the Plumbs note above occur frequently in dogs, in general. It is very much more likely that these symptoms and problems are occurring spontaneously, or due to some other cause, rather than being due to Apoquel.