By Dr. Gary A. Borgman, Kissimmee Animal Hospital, Inc.
When I was in veterinary school, many years ago, I was emphatically told by my professors that all dogs have fleas and all dogs itch. Unfortunately there was a lot of truth to that assertion but fortunately these statements no longer need to be true. External parasite control has advanced to a position whereby nearly all domestic dogs and cats can be virtually flea free! Since fleas have been the number one cause of itchy dogs and cats, especially in Florida, we now have various safe and very effective flea control products which greatly enhance the quality of life of our pets. Unfortunately, fleas are still very common among feral cats, many outdoor dogs and of course many wildlife species. Year round flea control measures are very important to prevent new infestations of fleas and ticks for pets that spend even a little time outside.
Fleas are no longer the primary cause of itching and secondary infections for those dogs and cats who are flea free. Still many dogs still itch. Atopy is a defective skin barrier against environmental factors, including pollen, dust mites, plant juices, etc resulting in biochemical reactions leading to itching, inflammation, and secondary infections. Sometimes it is necessary to administer a corticosteroid for quick relief. Unfortunately, corticosteroids have undesirable side effects. We now have a new product which is even more effective than injectable or oral corticosteroids and it is safe with no side effects!
Apoquel was introduced in January 2014. Apoquel has been thoroughly tested and it is truly a blessing for those patients who need it. It is an oral medication given twice a day for two weeks and then once a day. Concurrently, any skin infections are treated with oral medications. Apoquel is safe for long term use.
One very common dermatology presentation to veterinarians is acute moist dermatitis or “hot spots” which literally can and do occur in a matter of a few hours and are exacerbated by patient self trauma. Hot spots are very responsive to a steroid injection but now Apoquel will be a better choice for short term use because of lack of side effects.
Apoquel has not been approved for cats or use in dogs less than one year of age at this time.
The veterinarians and staff at Kissimmee Animal Hospital (Tel 407-846-3912) and Poinciana Pet Clinic (Tel 407-518-0888) are available to answer any questions you may have about treating itchy dogs with Apoquel or about any other pet health issues. We are here to help and to serve.