Apoquel And Other Pet Medications Explained

By: Samantha Devine, DVM
Apoquel is a medication that helps block the immune factors that cause your dog to itch. Cytopoint is a similar medication and suitable for younger dogs

When you hear your veterinarian recommending medications for your dog, it might sound like a foreign language. After all, we don’t usually talk about nexgard or Apoquel in everyday conversation, unless you work in a veterinarian’s office. In addition, some medications have crossover to human medications, and then it gets really confusing. Sit back and read on to get some clarity on medications your veterinarian might prescribe for your pet.

Apoquel for Dogs

Apoquel might just be a modern medical marvel in the realm of pet medications. It stops the immune factors within your dog’s body that cause your dog to itch, blocking inflammatory cytokines that lead to itching and inflammation.

In addition to reducing your dog’s itch. It helps decrease the irritation and inflammation in your dog’s skin that can further make him itchy. Apoquel can also be used with many other medications or products such as vaccinations for your dog. So if you’ve got an itchy pup with a lameness problem. Your vet could prescribe a pain medication and a round of Apoquel.

Cytopoint is an injectable product that works similarly to Apoquel, by targeting the factors that cause you dog’s itching. The nice thing about it is that it can be used in dogs under a year. Which Apoquel is not labeled for, and it lasts for 4 to 8 weeks, with one injection.

Your veterinarian might try your dog with an antihistamine before you try Apoquel or Cytopoint, especially in younger dogs. These block the histamine cycle that occurs when your pet gets exposed to allergens. They’re especially used in cats. With products such as chlorpheniramine, because neither Apoquel or Cytopoint are labeled for use in cats.

The Animalista Dog Scratching

Pain Medicine for Dogs

There are a wide variety of pain medications used in dogs, but some are more restricted now because of the opioid crisis facing the country. The mainstay of pain medication in dogs is usually Rimadyl or Meloxicam, both of which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). There is a newer product, Galliprant, which is used for pets with osteoarthritis to help control their discomfort.

Another type of medication being used in pets is a crossover from people medicine, Gabapentin. This is a pain medication that has also been used as an anti-seizure medication. It tends to be very effective for nerve-based pain, such as chronic arthritis. It is often used in conjunction with an NSAID, as these medications work on slightly different pain pathways.

Other pain medications for your dog that are used less commonly are also used in human medicine, such as tramadol and fentanyl. Because of the high abuse potential and the fact that these are controlled drugs, they are not used very commonly.

Flea and Tick Medicine for Dogs

You’ll find a range of flea and tick prevention products on the market. Some are topical prevention products, such as Advantix and Frontline. You can also find collars, such as the Seresto collar for your pet to wear and help protect them from fleas and ticks.

A rapidly increasing trend in the pet products market is the use of oral preventions. Nexgard for dogs is one such product, while Simparica is another. By taking the tablet once per month, your dog is protected from a range of fleas and ticks, and you don’t have to worry about the messy application that comes with using a topical prevention.

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Antibiotics for Dogs

Another type of medication that gets prescribed regularly in veterinary medicine are antibiotics. These medicines are used to treat bacterial infections and may be used when a bacterial upper respiratory infection is suspected or in the case of a urinary tract infection, with bacteria seen on the urinalysis.

There are some antibiotics that are strictly used in veterinary medicine and aren’t used in human medicine, but these are rare. Instead, commonly prescribed antibiotics may be considered crossover medications that are used in human and pet medicine, including amoxicillin and cephalexin.

Stomach Medications for Dogs

Pets get cases of GI upset just like people do and suffer from issues causing vomiting and diarrhea. Just like for you, there are medications that can be used to treat these maladies. Cerenia is only labeled for use in pets, but ondansetron may be used in people and pets for cases of vomiting. With diarrhea, some medications like loperamide are used.

When your veterinarian is worried about needing a gastroprotectant, they may reach for a medication like omeprazole or famotidine. These are the same active ingredients that you’d find in your own medications, Prilosec and Pepcid, but you’ll only want to use them under the direction of your veterinarian.


There are lots of medications that can be used in pets, and some of them are the same as the medications used in people. The names can be confusing, and you may have a situation where multiple medications are prescribed to your pet, such as an itchy dog with a skin infection who needs Apoquel and antibiotics. In cases such as these, communicate with your veterinarian so that you understand what is being prescribed and why. It’s important that you understand your pet’s medications since you are the main advocate for their health care.


By: Samantha Devine, DVM

Contributing Professional

The Animalista professional contributors are comprised of licensed Veterinarians and certified Veterinary Technicians who have been vetted by our team and have either authored or reviewed this content for accuracy. 


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