New Medication to Control Atopic Dermatitis in Dogs
One of the most frustrating conditions pet owners battle is allergies, more specifically atopy and allergic dermatitis. Atopy is a heritable condition in which the immune system reacts to environmental allergens. The most common symptom of atopy is itching. Dogs usually present first with seasonal allergies that progress over time to year-round allergies. These pets often undergo a yearly cycle of dermatitis, otitis, allergic rhinitis, and severe pruritus (itching) despite their owner’s best efforts to prevent and control the condition. Treatment of atopy is a multi-modal approach that often involves various combinations of antibiotics, antihistamines, essential fatty acids and steroids.
Zoetis has recently launched a new FDA-approved drug, Apoquel, for the fast control of itching and dermatitis in canine allergic dermatitis. Apoquel, targets the signals that cause itching and inflammation in the skin. These are similar to the effects of steroids with fewer, less severe side effects. By reducing itching and inflammation, we can reduce the amount of self-trauma and dermatitis involved with our atopy patients. At this time Zoetis says there is no labeled time limit for the use of Apoquel and their study dogs have been on the medication for up to two years at this point with minimal side effects. In addition, Apoquel can be used as part of the multi-modal approach with antibiotics, antihistamines and NSAIDS. Zoetis has not released any claims to the safety of using Apoquel with steroids, such as prednisone. Studies thus far have shown Apoquel to be fairly effective in reducing itching and inflammation with 66% of study participants after 4 weeks of treatment. Apoquel may not necessarily be the best choice for all patients, especially those with other chronic medical conditions.
While further studies over longer timeframes are certainly warranted, the news to this point is exciting. With the upcoming warmer weather, our atopic canine friends are gearing up for another dreaded bout of allergic dermatitis. It will certainly help to have another weapon in the arsenal to use against the dreaded itch. For more information about Apoquel, ask your veterinarian or visit www.apoquel.com.