Kelly’s dog is on Apoquel, and her other dog has lymphoma. As so many of us do, Kelly is asking lots of questions about how to prevent cancer from developing in the first place. Is her dog on Apoquel in danger of getting cancer later? Dr. Nancy Reese weighs in on this week’s episode of Dog Cancer Answers.
The short answer is that there is no good evidence at this point that long-term use of Apoquel causes cancer — but she would exercise caution in giving Apoquel to a dog that has been diagnosed with cancer.
You see, Apoquel targets one specific set of enzymes that are involved in the itch cycle. Those enzymes also happen to be involved in other cell processes, including immune cells … so it could be dampening the immune response. Obviously, dogs with cancer already have immune suppression … so you wouldn’t want to give something that causes more of that.
So in the end, Dr. Nancy thinks that Apoquel, which is excellent for dogs with allergies, is not something she would give to a dog with cancer. So, Kelly, your dog with lymphoma shouldn’t get Apoquel (so it’s good she doesn’t need it) and your dog with allergies can keep taking it until you figure out if something else works for that severe skin allergy.
Kelly also wanted to hear about other drugs or diets for dogs with allergies, and Dr. Nancy obliges.
It’s a great episode to listen to if your dog has allergies or if you are considering using Apoquel. Here’s the video for this episode:
You can read the transcript on the episode page on the Dog Cancer Answers website.
Also, please check out this article published in September 2020 in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association about the incidence of cancer in dogs treated for 6 or more months with Apoquel: Age- and breed-matched retrospective cohort study of malignancies and benign skin masses in 660 dogs with allergic dermatitis treated long-term with versus without oclacitinib | Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association | Vol 257 , No 5 (avma.org)
PS: Feel free to share this article or the podcast itself with your veterinarian and their staff.
Molly Jacobson is a writer and also the editor of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide, published by Maui Media. A lifelong dog lover and self-professed dog health nerd, she is all too familiar with dog cancer. She has been supporting readers of this blog since the beginning. Molly earned a BA from Tufts University, and after a career in bookselling and book publishing attended The Swedish Institute to become a licensed massage therapist in New York State, licensed by the medical board. Her fascination with health is both personal and global, and she is most proud of how this site and the associated publications have revolutionized not only our approach to dog health, but our own health.