How Does CBD Hold Up Against Apoquel for Dog Allergies?

on June 21, 2021

When our pets are suffering we naturally feel bad for them. If they’re really scratching we do things like put them in a “cone of shame,” even though they look at us with those forlorn, puppy dog eyes. 

Just like humans, doggies get allergies. Though, unlike humans, they are more likely to manifest allergy symptoms on their skin. Humans get eczema and allergic rashes, but we might also get digestive upsets or asthma from allergies. With our pups, even food allergies will most commonly show up as skin irritation.

Fortunately, dog allergies can be treated or even eliminated.

Digging into the Cause of Dog Allergies

If only our four-legged friends could tell us exactly what’s going on with them!

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. But to ease dog allergies, it’s good to start with some basics:

  • Eliminate potential environmental triggers like scented cleaning products or perfumes in the air. Something as simple as the mopping detergent or your flea treatment could be aggravating Fido.
  • Check out the food and consider switching to a low-allergen food.
  • Observe your dog outside. Other environmental triggers could include plants, rolling in grass that has been treated with pesticides, or any other number of outdoor irritants.
  • Check for other medical conditions. Itching can also come from infection, parasites, or other illnesses.

Unfortunately, you cannot necessarily see immediate change when eliminating a potential allergen. As you likely also know, you cannot switch doggy food quickly or risk causing all kinds of digestive problems!

So, getting to the cause of dog allergies involves patience, keeping notes, and trying one thing at a time.

Side Effects of Apoquel for Dogs

Medical and veterinary treatments for dog allergies generally involve using steroids or immunosuppressants. Cyclosporine, a class of drugs used to prevent organ transplant rejection in humans, suppresses immune reaction and is used by some vets. The newest common immunosuppressant drug for dogs is Apoquel.

Apoquel is FDA-approved for the treatment of pruritus in dogs. Pruritus is the medical term for itching, and it’s generally used when itching gets severe enough to affect dog behavior and temperament. 

Apoquel is a brand name for the drug oclacitinib, made by a company called Zoetis. Zoetis also sponsored the research for Apoquel, so it’s not really a surprise that their conclusion is, “It works!”

How does Apoquel work? It’s a JAK (Janus Kinase) inhibitor, meaning it blocks communication between certain small proteins (cytokines) and receptors in the body. JAK signaling may play an important role in the function of bone marrow as well, so dogs on Apoquel generally get bloodwork done regularly to check for potential damage to organ function (like the liver) and/or deterioration in bone marrow health.

That’s one of the side effects of Apoquel: it may damage bone marrow (which is also where blood cells are made). Other side effects include:

  • UTIs
  • Increased cholesterol
  • Weight gain
  • Tumors
  • Other dermal masses (unspecified)
  • Anemia
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Pneumonia
  • Even new skin infections or ear infections

Suppressing the immune system has potential long-term consequences as well, such as increased likelihood of infection, decreased ability to fight infection, and/or other forms of inflammation. 

Due to these reasons, or just a general desire to treat the underlying cause of allergies naturally, many pet lovers turn to a completely different solution for skin issues: dog CBD.

Side Effects of CBD for Allergy Treatment

Using CBD for treatment of doggy ailments has grown in recent years. Studies are underway for the treatment of ailments such as seizures in dogs with CBD.

Many pet owners are also turning to CBD for the treatment of allergies. 

CBD works differently than other allergy treatments, in that it isn’t a medication that suppresses the natural immune response. Instead, the compounds in hemp/CBD naturally communicate with the body’s endocannabinoid system to help achieve homeostasis--a word which basically just means “a state of balance.”

Naturally-derived, full-spectrum CBD is thus extremely safe for both short and long-term use. Some dogs experience sleepiness, lowered blood pressure, dry mouth or other (generally mild) side effects, so it’s best to give your pup the lowest effective dosage.

Bad Dog CBD for Dog Allergies

Since full-spectrum CBD for dogs seems to overall boost health, it’s really the opposite of an immunosuppressant. 

At Bad Dog CBD, we curate our dog health products to be exactly what might most benefit your four-legged family members. We have dog-safe CBD tinctures, healthy coat treats and anti-itch shampoo with non-GMO, full-spectrum hemp products for your pup.

Click here to see our store.

Hip & Joint with CBD Tincture


Hip & Joint for Dogs Tincture