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Features Apoquel Cyclosporine
Available forms Tablet Capsule, ophthalmic ointment or oral liquid for cats
Primary usage Immune modulating medication for relieving itching and inflammation caused by allergic skin diseases or atopy in dogs Suppresses the immune system to help treat diseases involving the blood or skin—including allergic reactions
Other uses None
  • Treating immune system disorders and other conditions such as anal fistulas in dogs, asthma in cats and airborne environmental allergies in both
  • Helping integrate organ transplants into the new host body
Active ingredient Oclacitinib Cyclosporine
Efficacy time Starts to relieve itching within 4 hours; effectively controls itching within 24 hours
  • Effects are not immediate; it may take days to weeks to achieve maximum efficacy
  • Gradual improvement over this period is expected
Appropriate for Dogs at least 12 months of age and 6.6 lbs. Cats and dogs at least 6 months of age and weighing at least 4 lbs.
How does it work? Suppresses enzymes that cause allergic reactions, including itching and skin inflammation Suppresses the action of certain cells in the immune system, lowering immune response
Prescription required Yes Yes
Daily dosage The recommended dosage ranges from 0.18 mg to 0.27 mg per pound; administer the tablets twice a day for 14 days and once a day after that to prevent future infections The recommended dose of cyclosporine varies for cats and dogs and is based on weight
Directions for use
  • Typically given orally twice a day for two weeks; for extended use, it is typically given once a day after the initial two-week period
  • Follow your veterinarian’s dosage guidelines; dosage varies by size, weight and species
  • This medication should only be given to the pet for whom it was prescribed
  • Given by mouth in the form of a capsule for dogs and a liquid suspension for cats
  • Cats should take the medication with food
  • Dogs should be given capsules on an empty stomach; wait 1–2 hours before feeding your dog
Give medication with food? Can be given with or without food
  • Tablets for dogs must be administered orally on an empty stomach; dogs should wait one to two hours after taking the medication before eating
  • Liquid suspension for cats should be provided with food
Recommended for breeding, pregnant or lactating dogs? No No
Recommended for cats No Yes
Adverse drug interactions
  • No; be sure to consult your veterinarian regarding other medications before administering
  • Long-term use of corticosteroids while on this medication is not recommended
Consult your veterinarian if your pet takes allopurinol, digoxin, etoposide, cimetidine, amiodarone, testosterone, ketoconazole, itraconazole, erythromycin, diltiazem, corticosteroids, metoclopramide, trimethoprim, rifampin, methotrexate, phenobarbital, phenytoin, terbinafine, St. John’s wort, probucol, omeprazole, aminoglycosides, amphotericin, amphotericin B, NSAIDS or modified live vaccines
Brand vs. generic Brand; there is no true Apoquel generic option Generic; the brand equivalent would be Atopica
Treats atopic dermatitis Yes Yes
Reduces itching Yes Yes
Reduces dark patches Yes Yes
Reduces inflammation Yes Yes
Treats skin allergies Yes Yes
Minimum age 12 months 6 months
How does it work? Highly recommended Highly recommended
Speed of results Suppresses enzymes that cause allergic reactions, including itching and skin inflammation Suppresses the action of certain cells in the immune system, lowering immune response
How does it work?
  • Significant recovery and diminished symptoms after regular administration for a week
  • In some cases, pets show improvement in just a day
Around 4 weeks to reduce symptoms of atopic dermatitis, with gradual improvement expected over this period
Side Effects
  • Few side effects noted, but can include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, sluggishness, lethargy, loose bowels, anorexia and increased cholesterol; these can be reduced by giving Apoquel with food
  • Less common side effects include increased susceptibility to infections, including urinary tract infections, respiratory infections and skin infections
Vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, anorexia, UTIs, swollen lymph nodes and higher susceptibility to sickness and infection
Monitoring Bloodwork monitoring may be recommended Monitor for side effects
FAQs about Apoquel vs. Cyclosporine

While technically there is no true generic alternative, there are other Apoquel alternatives, such as cyclosporine, that work similarly. Some corticosteroids have been proven to reduce skin inflammation and itchiness in the same way but typically include more bothersome side effects than Apoquel. Similarly, antihistamines can also reduce the annoying symptoms of skin allergies but aren’t as powerful as Apoquel’s ingredients.

There is no Apoquel generic alternative because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve one. While both Apoquel for dogs and cyclosporine suppress the immune system to alleviate allergy symptoms, Apoquel typically begins working faster and has a lower risk of gastrointestinal upsets. 

Veterinarians typically prescribe Apoquel for dog allergies. This is primarily focused on skin allergies and infections such as atopic dermatitis but can also help reduce inflammation caused by the allergens’ effects on the blood. 

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Reviewed by Dr. Whitney Miller, DVM, MBA, DACVPM 

As Petco’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Miller is the lead veterinary subject matter expert, overseeing the company’s standards of excellence in animal care and welfare, growth in pet services and much more. Dr. Miller leads Petco’s medical team, supporting over 200 full-service hospitals and mobile vaccination clinics operating in over 1,000 Petco Pet Care Centers nationwide.