Sometimes, working at my job is similar to being a kid in a candy store. All vet techs, to an extent, are nerds (some more nerdy than others, like yours truly). There are always new products coming out – new oral drugs, new oral supplements, new injectible drugs, etc. The medical field is constantly changing and getting better with technology, and hospitals have to change and grow with it.
I can’t speak for all vet techs, but I love when drug reps talk to us about new drugs. I love going to conferences and listening to others in the field talk about their experiences and thoughts on certain things. Basically, I love learning about all things animals.
But seriously, I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to new products at work.
For the most part, there are multiple drugs for everything – multiple broad-spectrum antibiotics, multiple antibiotics for targeted areas, multiple pain killers, etc. I love learning about them, learning about their studies, and why we choose the drug we choose to treat that particular dog.
But let’s be honest, most of that excitement to learn stems from the fact that I want to be knowledgeable about my options for what is available should I ever need to treat Buster for anything. We are all always thinking about our own dogs.
This week we had a drug rep come talk to us about a new drug for itching. And guess what? Buster has major allergies and itchies (that are *knock on wood* under control right now), but I still paid close attention.
In case any of you itchy-dog owners go to the vet for itchiness in the near future, I hope this post will help you out (because I am pretty sure your vet will at least mention this drug).
So what is this drug? Apoquel.
Apoquel is manufactured by Zoetis. Apoquel is “uniquely targeted to stop the itch and inflammation associated with allergic skin disease.”
If you have taken your itchy dog to the vet (especially if he become very itchy very fast – an acute case), your pup was probably prescribed steroids, an antihistamine, maybe an antibiotic, an omega 3 supplement, maybe a probiotic, and maybe a shampoo or spray or other topical treatment. All of those are short term solutions to fix the problem. Your vet likely would talk to you about underlying problems causing the itching (like allergies), but that is a different conversation.
The steroids mentioned above are a problem. No one likes steroids. No one likes the side effects that steroids cause both humans and animals. So, why do we keep prescribing them? Because they work.
Apoquel inhibits 2 enzymes (JAK 1 and JAK 3), but it spares JAK 2 (needed for good blood function and immunity); these two enzymes are specifically what starts the itching and inflammation process. It is considered an immunomodulator, not an immuosuppressant (like Atopica).
Apoquel can relieve itching in under 4 hours, whereas Atopica can take up to 2-4 weeks to see a difference in your pet’s itching. Apoquel is meant to be administered up to two times daily for 14 days and then once daily as needed for maintenance on the chronically itchy pups.
While this drug is right off the market and incredibly new, it has had tremendous studies. Over 240 dogs were given the loading dose and then the maintenance dose for over 1,000 days, with no serious side effects. The dogs on Apoquel were so much less itchy over such a shorter amount of time than the dogs in the study on steroids. It was also studied while the dogs were on other medications (antibiotics, glucosamine, dewormers, etc.), and there were no drug interactions.
This drug is definitely hot (at least in my area), so if you take your itchy dog the vet soon, I am sure they will mention this.
*Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Zoetis. I don’t even know any dogs on Apoquel right now. We don’t even have it in stock at my hospital yet. I just think it sounds like a good thing, and itchy dogs are one of the most common things we see. ALWAYS seek medical advice from your licensed veterinarian who knows your pet and examines him/her.