Apoquel vs. CBD for Dogs: What You Need to Know

As annoying as allergies are for humans, they can be just as irritating for our beloved canine companions. From excessive itching and rashes to other skin issues like redness and swelling, dogs are just as susceptible to allergy issues as we are, especially during the warmer seasons when plants are in bloom and releasing excessive amounts of pollen into the air. Allergies can lead dogs to continually scratch, bite, and lick at their skin, often resulting in more inflammation, redness, and sometimes even hair loss if their symptoms are bad enough. 

As a loving dog owner, you’re likely wondering what you can do to help your precious pup start feeling better. Our goal at Dope Dog is to help you understand your options and ensure you select the best one for your dog. Because of this, we’re here to help explain the two primary solutions and how they compare to one another; Apoquel and CBD. Please continue for more information and learn about which option is likely to bring your dog the most relief.

Related: Comparing CBD Isolate And Full Spectrum CBD

What is Apoquel, and What is it Used for in Dogs?

If your dog is currently suffering from allergies and the range of uncomfortable, irritating symptoms that they can trigger, then you’ve likely made an appointment with your veterinarian to try and find a solution, or you at least plan to make one very soon. In either case, there’s a high likelihood that your vet has (or will) prescribed your dog a drug called Apoquel.

Apoquel is the given brand name for the drug oclacitinib, a commonly used medication prescribed to help alleviate a condition called Pruritus, or itchiness, in dogs, which is the most frequently seen symptom related to doggy allergies. It’s a widespread prescription given to dogs diagnosed with atopic dermatitis, a chronic inflammatory skin disease typically triggered by or associated with allergies. Over the past several years, Apoquel has gained significant favor among veterinarians.

How Does Apoquel Work?

This is where everything starts to take a big turn for the problematic, and where pet owners start to realize that Apoquel isn’t the magical wonder drug that many like to claim it to be. You see, Apoquel doesn’t treat allergies altogether or remove the source of allergic reactions. Instead, it works by actively suppressing your dog’s immune system to help mute the symptoms of allergic reactions.

Apoquel is a drug commonly referred to as a Janus Kinase or JAK inhibitor. JAK is a type of signaling compound in the body used to facilitate communication between cells and direct immune function. Some of the primary functions of JAKs are;

  • Forming white and red blood cells
  • Destroying tumors or preventing their growth
  • Signaling the growth of new cells
  • Controlling inflammation
  • Ensuring proper immune cell functioning

By turning off JAK receptors, Apoquel essentially powers down the immune system, the body’s natural defense against illness and chronic diseases. When you get down to the clinical basics of how the drug works, you can quickly start to understand how it can lead to serious trouble down the road, especially if prescribed to a dog over an extended period.

The longer their immune system is dampened, the more likely a dog is to develop severe complications.

It should also be noted that using Apoquel involves a very rigid administration schedule to be consistently effective. The drug can only help control your dog’s allergy symptoms for between 12-24 hours at a time before it needs to be readministered.

Related: Hemp Oil Vs. CBD Oil For Dogs

What are the Benefits And Drawbacks of Giving Your Dog Apoquel?

A small white dog getting his belly rubbed.

As stated above, Apoquel is a highly favored drug among vets for treating doggy allergies. Make no mistake; it does provide some benefits since it can help relieve the severity of allergy symptoms. However, it also carries a wide range of critical drawbacks in the form of various- sometimes severe- side effects due to its role in suppressing a dog’s immune system. To study the potential of these side effects, the manufacturers of Apoquel performed and released the results of a long-term study in which 247 dogs used the medication for two years.

The most common side effects of the drug included;

  • Vomiting, diarrhea, and other chronic GI issues
  • Bacterial urinary tract infections (UTIs) or Cystitis
  • Bacterial infections in the ear canal or Otitis
  • Bacterial infections in the skin or Pyoderma
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Lethargy
  • Anemia
  • Weight gain
  • Pneumonia

There was also evidence to strongly indicate that other side effects of Apoquel’s suppression of the immune system were the development of lumps, bumps, tumors, and several other cancerous growths. Without the help of a fully-functioning immune system, dogs were put at a much higher risk for cellular mutations and other cancerous conditions, including; 

  • Mast Cell Tumors Grade 1 & 2
  • Low-grade b-cell lymphoma
  • Apocrine gland adenocarcinoma
  • Dermal pigmented viral plaques
  • Primary malignant bone Neoplasia
  • Spindle cell sarcoma
  • Splenic neoplasm
  • Intracranial neoplasm
  • Anal sac adenocarcinoma
  • Frontal sinus neoplasm

Many study participants also developed numerous masses that were not diagnosed.

As a result of these terrible side effects noted above, several dog owners and veterinary medical professionals have recently called out for the need for other, more holistic treatment options to replace Apoquel. According to many, CBD is a quality solution.

Are you currently searching for a source of superior quality CBD dog treats and tinctures to help your fuzzy buddy find relief from their aches and pains? Dope Dog is proud to offer loving dog owners access to a wide selection of expertly made CBD pet products that will give them the relief they need to take on the day.

What is CBD, and What Can it do for Your Dog?

CBD, also called Cannabidiol, is one of the most commonly known natural compounds found in hemp plants. It’s typically extracted and immediately made into CBD oil, which can then be used in various products for both humans and dogs to provide a wide array of medical benefits. Our experts at Dope Dog, for example, have created a variety of top-quality CBD dog treats and specially formulated CBD dog shampoo. 

The treats can help with everything from anxiety and pain relief to increasing a dog’s range of motion for those experiencing mobility issues. The shampoo can help soothe a dog’s irritated or inflamed skin while nourishing its coat. However, these are just broad characteristics of what CBD and CBD dog products can do. Let’s get into a deeper explanation of the benefits it can provide, especially when it comes to relieving your dog’s allergies compared to Apoquel.

How Does CBD Work?

All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) to process cannabinoids- the active ingredients in hemp. The body also creates cannabinoids naturally. Receptors within the ECS regulate several vital functions throughout the body, including in the brain, organs, and immune and nervous systems.

Allergies can impact the function of the ECS by triggering an unnecessary response from the immune system, causing the symptoms discussed at the beginning of this article. CBD can help reduce those symptoms by actively stabilizing the ECS. However, that’s far from the only advantage it can provide for the body.

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of CBD?

There is a wide range of benefits that CBD can provide to humans and dogs alike, especially when it comes to relieving symptoms related to allergies and atopic dermatitis. For example, CBD is well known to;

  • Reduce inflammation and decrease skin itchiness, making it highly effective for allergic skin reactions.
  • Work with the immune system to ease pain caused by swelling and soreness from allergic reactions and other issues.
  • Help reduce a dog’s stress and anxiety, which can reduce their need to bite, lick, or scratch their skin.

The significant advantage of CBD is that it is entirely safe for dogs. Several studies- such as this one from 2018- have not noted any significant side effects or correlating health issues related to either short or long-term use, which is exponentially better than what can be said for Apoquel. The limited range of side effects that have been noted in some research was minimal and only included drowsiness and increased thirst when dogs were given an appropriate dosage for their particular size. 

However, giving your dog too much CBD may result in other issues similar to the ones humans experience from taking in too much CBD, including dizziness, lowered blood pressure, upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea. Because of this, it’s always essential to make sure you follow the dosage recommendations provided by CBD pet product manufacturers. If you buy from reputable suppliers- like Dope Dog- detailed instructions should be included on every package. That said, these side effects are considered relatively minor compared to those caused by Apoquel. 

Is CBD an Adiquate Alternative for Apoquel?

A black and white dog looking at the camera.

When you get right down to the basics of how Apoquel and CBD operate, the benefits they can provide your dog, and the side effects they have the potential to trigger, CBD is a clear-cut winner. Especially in the eyes of concerned pet parents who only want the best for their four-legged friends. 

CBD can help get to the primary source of issues related to allergies to correct the problem, rather than cover up the symptoms like Apoquel. It provides a safe, supportive, and effective treatment for doggy allergies, and its healing properties are also shown to produce the opposite effects as the side effects triggered by Apoquel. CBD also doesn’t cause the same level of side effects as Apoquel and is not connected to the development of cancer. In fact, many dog owners specifically rely on CBD products to help relieve the pain caused by cancer in their chronically ill pets.

It should also be clearly noted that many vets across the country have come out to support the safe use of CBD to treat various conditions that dogs relatively face. The primary reason that they keep prescribing Apoquel and don’t provide CBD is that they are not yet legally allowed to officially recommend CBD products for their patients under current federal regulations.

Related: Benefits Of Cannabis Tincture For Dogs

Switching From Apoquel to CBD

If you’ve read this far, then you’re likely convinced that it’s time to make the switch from prescribed Apoquel to the more holistic option of CBD to treat your dog’s allergy-related issues. We commend you for deciding to try and support your pet’s health in the best way possible and would like to offer some tips to follow when making the switch.

First, make sure you have a conversation with your veterinarian, who can guide you through the process of steadily taking your dog off of their prescribed Apoquel. Do not, under any circumstances, just stop giving them their medication without getting the okay from your vet, as doing so could cause issues.

Next, you’ll want to locate a quality source of CBD pet products to give to your precious pup. Our experts at Dope Dog highly recommend our specially formulated CBD dog treats, oil tinctures, and shampoo. Each of our products contains only the best quality CBD that’s tested by third-party businesses to ensure its purity and lack of THC.

Choose Dope Dog as Your Source of Top-Quality CBD Pet Products

Now that you’ve decided to make the switch to CBD, you’ll want to make sure you’re providing your pup with only the best CBD products available on the market! Please consider browsing through our wide selection of specialized CBD pet products at Dope Dog today to see which ones will meet the needs of your fuzzy friend. Also, please consider reading through some of our other expertly written doggy resources. Whether you’re looking for specialized pet care guides, more CBD information for pets, or deliciously nutritious recipes you can make for your dog, we have everything you need and then some!

With so many different CBD dog products currently available on the market, it can be difficult finding the right brand to choose from. Thankfully, Dope Dog provides caring owners access to some of the best quality CBD doggy treats and tinctures out there, so consider trying them out today to see the benefits they can make for your precious pup!

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