What is in Apoquel? How it Works?

Dr. Isabella Martinez
7 Min Read

Is your furry companion constantly scratching, suffering from an allergic itch, or battling atopic dermatitis? If so, you’re not alone in your quest to find effective relief.

One medication you will frequently come across for managing these conditions is Apoquel (oclacitinib). It is a medication formulated to tackle the relentless itch that bothers our four-legged friends. Let’s find out how this medication works and its active ingredients.

Oclacitinib – Apoquel

Apoquel contains the active ingredient Oclacitinib. It is a Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor, which suppresses dogs’ immune response.

Specifically, Apoquel inhibits JAK-1 and JAK-3 signaling. This signaling normally occurs when certain cytokines bind to receptors on the immune system cell’s surface. They block the effects of inflammatory cytokines released from activated lymphocytes and a cytokine called IL-31 that is involved in itch sensation.

What is Apoquel for Dogs used for?

Apoquel helps to reduce itching and inflammation in dogs with conditions like atopic dermatitis. It’s important to note that Apoquel works differently from steroids, antihistamines, Cytopoint, or cyclosporine.

What are the active ingredients in Apoquel?

The active ingredient in Apoquel is oclacitinib, an immune suppressant drug belonging to the Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor class. Oclacitinib is the key component responsible for Apoquel’s therapeutic effects in managing allergic itch and atopic dermatitis in dogs. It inhibits JAK-1 and JAK-3 enzyme signaling to reduce inflammation and itchiness.

Apoquel formulation contains other non-active ingredients, or excipients, necessary for medication stability, absorption, and overall formulation. The specific Apoquel excipients vary depending on the formulation. It may also include other ingredients like lactose monohydrate, microcrystalline cellulose, colloidal silicon dioxide, croscarmellose sodium, and magnesium stearate. These excipients are carefully selected and regulated for Apoquel medication safety and efficacy.

Oclacitinib Mode of Action – How it Works?

Binding of Cytokines:

A cytokine (IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-13, or IL-31) binds with its cell surface receptor. This binding triggers a signaling pathway.

JAK Signaling:

This binding activates Janus Kinases (JAKs), specifically JAK-1 and JAK-3. These dog enzymes are involved in cell signal transduction.

Normal Cellular Response:

JAK signaling activates various transcription factors that enter the cell nucleus and regulate certain gene expression to reduce inflammation and immune responses.

Apoquel Inhibition:

The active ingredient in Apoquel, oclacitinib, is a JAK inhibitor. It selectively and reversibly inhibits JAK-1 and JAK-3 enzymes.

Suppression of Cytokine Effects:

Apoquel inhibits JAK-1 and JAK-3 signaling and prevents the downstream effects of cytokine binding. This includes blocking the release of inflammatory cytokines from activated lymphocytes and the itch-inducing cytokine IL-31.

Diminished Itching and Inflammation:

By reducing the effects of these cytokines, Apoquel helps alleviate itching and inflammation in dogs with conditions such as atopic dermatitis.

Oclacitinib – Apoquel-Specific Properties for Treatment in Dogs

The active ingredient in Apoquel, oclacitinib, exhibits specific properties and characteristics beyond its inhibitory effects on JAK signaling. Here are some additional properties of oclacitinib:

Selective Action:

Oclacitinib is designed to selectively inhibit JAK-1 and JAK-3 enzymes. It has a high affinity for these enzymes, allowing targeted inhibition while minimizing interference with other JAK isoforms or unrelated signaling pathways. This selectivity helps to reduce potential side effects associated with broader JAK inhibition.

Rapid Onset of Action:

One notable characteristic of oclacitinib is its rapid onset of action. In most cases, Apoquel diminishes itching within 24 hours of administration. This quick relief can significantly improve the comfort and quality of life for dogs suffering from allergic itch or atopic dermatitis.

Short Duration of Action:

While Apoquel provides rapid relief, it’s important to note that oclacitinib’s antipruritic (anti-itch) effects wear off relatively quickly, typically within 12-24 hours. Consequently, Apoquel is usually administered once daily to maintain its efficacy in managing itching and inflammation.

How Long Would It Take Before You See A Reaction From Apoquel?

Apoquel is known for its relatively rapid onset of action, and many dogs experience a noticeable response within a short period. In most cases, dogs treated with Apoquel start to see a reduction in itching within 24 hours of administration. This quick relief can significantly improve the comfort of dogs suffering from allergic itch or atopic dermatitis.

However, the specific medication response timing is different for every dog. Some dogs respond quickly within a few hours of medication, while others may take some days to show improvement. Additionally, the extent of the response also depends on the itching or inflammation severity.

Limited Gastrointestinal Upsets:

Apoquel has a low likelihood of gastrointestinal (GI) upsets, unlike other anti-allergic medications, such as cyclosporine. GI side effects, such as vomiting or diarrhea, are rare with Apoquel treatment.

Apoquel Oclacitinib FAQs

What works as well as Apoquel with no prescription?

There are no over-the-counter medications matching Apoquel’s effectiveness. You may use over-the-counter products (medicated shampoos or topical creams) for temporary mild itching or skin irritations relief in dogs.

What is the generic for Apoquel?

The generic name for Apoquel is oclacitinib.

What is apoquel oclacitinib 16mg?

Apoquel 16mg refers to the specific dosage strength of the medication. It contains 16mg of oclacitinib, the active ingredient, per tablet. The dosage and administration of Apoquel should always be determined by a veterinarian based on the individual needs and condition of the dog.

Conclusion 💭

Apoquel is a widely used medication for managing dogs’ allergic itch and atopic dermatitis. It works by targeting specific pathways involved in inflammatory responses and itch sensations. While no over-the-counter alternatives match its effectiveness, some products may offer temporary relief for mild symptoms. The generic name for Apoquel is oclacitinib, and a veterinarian should determine dosages. Regular monitoring and veterinary guidance are essential for the safe and optimal use of Apoquel or any other treatment for your dog’s needs.

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Dr. Isabella Martinez has been a trusted veterinarian in the heart of Miami for the past 19 years. Over the course of her illustrious career, she has treated a myriad of animals, from the tiniest of hamsters to the grandest of Great Danes. Her journey hasn't just been about treating illnesses or performing surgeries; it's been about connecting with the animals and understanding their stories. Miami, with its vibrant culture and diverse pet population, has provided Dr. Martinez with countless tales of joy, heartbreak, and wonder. Every pet has a story, and every owner has a bond with their furry friend that's unique and profound. Recognizing the wealth of experiences she's amassed and the lessons she's learned, Dr. Martinez decided to start a blog apoquel.org delves into her adventures as a Miami vet. Through her posts, readers get a glimpse of the challenges faced in the veterinary world, the breakthroughs in treatments, and the heartwarming moments that make the job worthwhile. "Apoquel" isn't just a blog; it's a testament to Dr. Martinez's dedication to her profession and her love for the animals she treats. Through her words, she hopes to inspire future veterinarians, educate pet owners, and share the magic that happens when humans and animals connect.
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