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9 Safe Apoquel Alternatives


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9 Safe Apoquel Alternatives

By: Deva Khalsa VMD -
Reading Time: 14 minutes

Allergies in dogs have truly reached epidemic proportions. Most veterinarians keep over-vaccinating dogs (read on to find out why this is a problem) … and conventional allergy treatments only work to suppress the natural functioning of the immune system.

Because of this, the genetic tendency for allergies appears to be increasing. Generation after generation it gets worse for our dogs. Allergies have become so much worse; even some of the drugs that used to help, like steroids, don’t work well any more. We’ll talk more about steroids later.

What is that over-vaccination and the suppression of the immune system going to do in the future? The epidemic of allergies we see right now is due to these factors, and the situation is only getting worse. It’s high time that we make a brave attempt to alter this course of events.

We need some Apoquel® alternatives. And luckily, I’ve got them. But first…

Is It Really An Allergy?
An allergy is due to a misbehaving immune system. The immune system is reacting to something it shouldn’t be reacting to. Think of a person with peanut allergies. All his friends may be eating all kinds of peanut candies and peanut butter sandwiches, but he can’t touch them. Is the problem the peanuts or the immune system? That’s right, it’s the immune system. So how do conventional treatments handle this misbehaving immune system? By abolishing it. No matter what drug I mention below, it’s an immune system extinguisher.

Interestingly, food sensitivities and intolerances are actually 15 times more prevalent than bona-fide allergies. In fact, reactions to food lie at the base of the pyramid in the whole scheme of allergies. The environmental factors act as the straw that break the camel’s back.

Throwing A Wrench In The Works
Here’s the rub, as far as food sensitivities and intolerances go. The reaction takes from a week to a month to manifest itself. So you can feed your dog, let’s say lamb, and get no response between days 1 to 14 of feeding it. So you assume that lamb is just fine. When you finally do get a response on day 21, you have no idea what actually caused it.

The standard allergy tests that most vets use to find out what your dog is allergic to are only 15% accurate for foods. What that really means is that these tests are 85% inaccurate and you can’t trust them at all as far as foods go. The good news is that these tests are 85% accurate for environmental allergens. Yet if foods are the base of the allergic response, we really have to find out what foods are the culprits.

Testing For Allergies At Home
The NutriScan food sensitivity test is a saliva test done by Hemopet. You can visit the website and send the sample in yourself. It’s a reliable test for food sensitivities and intolerances. (Remember, this is what’s really happening.) The thing is, you may find your dog is allergic to an amazing number of foods and be at a loss about what to feed.

I recommend you repeat the test every 6 months as the foods your pet reacts to will change with time.

Find three different meals that agree with your dog and rotate on a three-day basis. This will prevent him from developing an allergy to the food.

There’s another problem with finding out exactly what’s causing the allergies. Foods have compounds in them called phenolics. Phenolics create the taste and smell in foods and other substances. They’re in vegetables, fruits, meats, poultry, fish and potatoes. One particularly notorious phenolic is named gallic acid and it’s in 70% of foods. The issue: tests don’t check for phenolic sensitivity.

Often owners of dogs with “allergies” finally find a food that agrees with their best friend. Joyfully, we run and put Fido on the food and feed it every day. Why not? He loves it and either the itching or diarrhea or both are handled when he is eating it. Here’s the problem. Feeding the same food day after day will almost guarantee that an immune reaction will develop.

Here’s a perfect example: vets snap on talc-powdered latex examination gloves many times a day. As time passes we become allergic to the talc. Give it a little more time and we become allergic to the latex. Folks who never use examination gloves will not get this allergy.

That’s why the best way to go is to find three different meals that agree with your dog and rotate on a three-day basis. This will prevent him from developing an allergy to the food.

A Little History Of Conventional Allergy Drugs
It used to be that steroids, such as prednisone, were dispensed too excessively. Veterinarians had little choice about what to use for dogs with allergies. Steroids worked because they suppressed the immune system so well. But, dogs would wind up drinking and urinating too much and losing their fur when taking these steroids. That’s why dogs were weaned off as soon as they were comfortable again. Of course the fix was only temporary. Within weeks or months most doggies would have to go back on another round of steroids. Lots of dogs had seasonal allergies so they would go on prednisone in, let’s say, just the spring and fall seasons. At least they were only on these immune-suppressing drugs for short stints.

Feeding the same food day after day will almost guarantee that an immune reaction will start.

But then, steroids like prednisone and dexamethasone simply stopped working well. Dogs would take it and it did little for the itch.

Just about this time, a drug called Atopica (cyclosporine) became available. Some veterinarians began using Atopica instead of steroids. Yet, the side effects of Atopica were considerably worse.

Cyclosporine was developed in Switzerland in the 70s. It was designed to prevent the rejection of organs in transplant patients. In order to do this, it had to knock the immune system to smithereens. Dogs were getting cancer (one of the many side effects of cyclosporine) because they were on this drug.
That’s why, when Apoquel came onto the market, it seemed to be a dream come true. There was no excessive drinking as with steroids. There were no apparent serious side effects as with cyclosporine. Dogs simply stopped itching and were, once again, comfortable in their own skin. Veterinarians loved it, as it worked well in just about every case. The dogs loved it because they stopped itching. Pharmaceutical companies and vets loved it because people had to buy it and refill it each month … for the dog’s entire life.

Dogs weren’t taking it for some short period in the spring or fall when they had their allergies. Once they started Apoquel, the dog would seem to need it forever. Once again, Apoquel doesn’t cure, but merely suppresses the allergic symptoms.

Apoquel works because it slays the kinases, which serve as the communicators in the body.

Unlike steroids, it’s very difficult to get dogs off Apoquel. When I treat a dog to eliminate her allergies, I reprogram her immune system. I occasionally have to put the patient on prednisone for a very short period. This is because the capacity for internal communication in the body is compromised. Apoquel destroys the communication system. There has to be an immune system in place in order to correct it.

How Does Apoquel Work?
Exactly how is Apoquel getting the immune suppression job done?

Apoquel works because it slays the kinases, which serve as the communicators in the body. Kinases coordinate absolutely everything in the body with one communicating to the other. Think of it just like a big happy Italian family. Kinases never stop communicating. One talks to another and that one talks to 100 more kinases and the body’s functions get organized.

Kinases are the repair and regeneration mechanism of the body. They are the communicators and communicate between cells.

They have enormous diversity. They play a critical role in cellular communication and signaling.

Kinases send signals and perform regulatory complex processes in cells.

Dogs who get Apoquel become dependent on it. Allergies are often even more severe when the owner tries to wean their dog off it.

Kinases actually activate stem cells. Stem cells are our dogs’ internal repair system. They divide essentially without limit to replenish other cells. Each new cell either remains a stem cell or becomes another type of cell with a specialized function. These could be muscle cells, red blood cells or brain cells.

Kinsases are used extensively to transmit signals and control complex processes in cells. Up to 518 different kinases have been identified in humans.

Mutations in kinases that lead to a loss-of-function can cause cancer and disease.

The bottom line is that APOQUEL stops important kinases from functioning in your pet’s body. Apoquel obliterates several very important kinases to knock the immune system to smithereens.

And this particular allergy fix is addictive. Dogs who get Apoquel become dependent on it. Allergies are often even more severe when the owner tries to wean their dog off it. It’s a winning situation for the pharmaceutical companies as they get to sell this drug for a dog’s lifetime …
… until they develop cancer. One of the kinases Apoquel snuffs out is the one that searches for cancer cells.

Note: The drug Cytopoint was developed because it neutralizes only one kinase. That said, the communication between kinases is interdependent on many different kinases communicating. So the safety of Cytopoint remains in question.
Preventing Allergies In The Future
When there were fewer vets on the planet, vaccines were given to puppies and not repeated on a yearly basis. Vets had plenty of business and didn’t need to send out annual reminder cards. These old-fashioned vets were doing it right. One puppy shot for distemper and parvovirus after 18 weeks is GOOD FOR LIFE.

Of course now your vet will probably try to convince you to pay out for other vaccines. Leptospirosis, Lyme, kennel cough and canine flu vaccines – this list goes on. Just don’t buy into the hype. The first three are bacteria. Vaccines against bacteria have to be given at least 2 to 3 times a year to be effective. And the kennel cough vaccine? It doesn’t even prevent the disease: it simply lessens the severity.

The thing is, these unnecessary vaccinations and the suppressive treatments have an effect. Dogs with allergies are being treated with drugs that suppress the immune system … drugs that screw up the inter-body communication. What kind of offspring will these dogs give birth to?

Dogs have 10 times more mast cells on their skin than people do. If we were built like a dog, we’d be itching our behinds and inner thighs during ragweed season.

How many allergic dogs will we have in the next 10 years? Will the percentage double? I personally think it will go up, not twice, but at least 10 times.

So what’s the first thing I want you to know about allergies? You shouldn’t, and I cannot stress this enough, over-vaccinate. Minimize toxins and minimize vaccines. I’ve specialized in treating dogs with allergies for 40 years. And I create a non-allergic dog using natural methods. But I’ve seen allergies return right after dogs are vaccinated again. Dog gets better. Dog isn’t itching for years. Dog gets vaccinated and it all starts up again.

Preparation For Dogs On Apoquel
As Benjamin Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This certainly applies to doggy allergies.

If you’re reading this blog, your dog may be on Apoquel already. I’ve got to warn you about what happens when you stop the Apoquel. Oftentimes, the itching that established the need for Apoquel will now be much worse. With steroids (prednisone), you’d just stop them and then it would take a while for the itching to come back.

It’s not so with Apoquel. The itching often comes back with a vengeance. I suggest that you have a natural substance at the ready (you’ll find these below). Don’t stop and wait to see what happens. You will, most likely, need something within a day or so of stopping the drug.

Allergies Can Be Complicated By Other Issues
Allergies do not, only or always, exist as an island in themselves.

Other problems can occur, either alone or in addition to allergies. And these problems can cause itching.
Something like sarcoptic mange (scabies) can look just like allergies. This is particularly true if the owner is doting and cares very well for the dog. In veterinary school, we’re taught the classical picture of scabies is a dog with crusts on the edges of his ears. I can say, with certainty, that I almost never see a case of scabies that looks like that. What I see are dogs who stop and itch when they’re doing something interesting. Sometimes the owners can have red bumps, particularly if they sleep with a dog who has it. It’s hard to diagnose with routine skin scrapings as the mite lives really deep in the skin. The best way to know if your dog has scabies is to treat it with Ivermectin. After the second dose (not the first) the itching will dramatically decrease. If your breed cannot tolerate Ivermectin you can use Revolution to treat it.

Dogs with allergies are being treated with drugs that suppress the immune system … drugs that screw up the inter-body communication.

Another complication is malasezzia. Malassezia is a yeast that normally lives on a dog’s skin and when it overgrows – boy is it itchy! I cannot stress this enough. Some dogs just have the yeast and treating it with an enzyme shampoo will help. But dogs with allergies tend to get inflamed skin and so the yeast has a super opportunity to overgrow. The itching of the allergy and of the yeast both combine to create a very, very itchy dog.

There’s still more. Dogs with allergies can often get a secondary bacterial infection, so you have to watch for that. A secondary bacterial infection is not uncommon in dogs on Apoquel. Demodex infections – a mite that grows in immune compromised dogs – also occurs.

In some cases, you’re treating for a myriad of problems at once. Allergies, insensitivities, intolerances, malasezzia yeast and secondary bacterial infection can all be common.

What can we do for dogs with allergies? Are there any alternatives to Apoquel? The answer to that question is a resounding yes.

Apoquel Alternatives
There are important Apoquel alternatives out there. I always prefer an allergy elimination therapy. Who wants to give natural itch relieving products, change dog food constantly, or read labels with a magnifying glass? You can change foods till the cows come home but you can’t avoid every blade of grass and every pollen or mold. Allergy elimination therapy is a simpler solution.

Stuff to do to avoid the allergic reactions:

  1. Feed a rotating diet. Use a novel protein, which is a protein that your dog has never had before. Use novel ingredients.
  2. Try feeding rabbit based food as rabbit has one rare phenolic and contains no gallic acid.
  3. Get an air purifier for your home.
  4. Nip the itch in the bud with a topical product that works to calm the area in which it starts.
  5. Test Vitamin D3 levels. 75% of dogs fed commercial food are D3 deficient. Vitamin D levels have found to be very important when it comes to allergies.
Here are some things you can use help the itch.

Remember – many allergic dogs are allergic seasonally. You can give these products during the common allergy seasons in dogs, the spring and fall. Another important point is that it’s difficult to get dogs off of Apoquel, so you need something on hand.

Chinese Herbs: Zhu Dan Tablets from Seven Forests can help with the itch. Give:

  • ½ pill to 1 pill twice a day for a smaller dog
  • 1 pill two to three times a day for a medium dog
  • 2 pills two or three times a day for a large dog
I recommend giving these with a meal.

Histoplex by Biotics Research. Give:

  • A small dog can get ½ pill twice a day
  • Medium dog 1 pill twice a day
  • A large dog can have up to 3 pills twice a day while 2 pills twice a day usually suffices.
Betathyme – a naturally formed steroid that can help to stop that itch. Follow the directions on the label.

Atronex by Standard Process – is a very nice product that helps to curb the itch. Like Betathyme, follow the directions on the label.


Topical Solutions
Dogs have ten times more mast cells on their skin than people do. If we were built like a dog, we’d be itching our behinds and inner thighs during ragweed season. And, just like with people, your dog’s itching makes things worse. Itching increases the intensity of the itching because it activates more mast cells. When your mother told you that the more you itched that mosquito bite, the more it would itch, she was spot on!

What I’m trying to say with all this is that if you can nip the first itchy spot in the bud, you’re way ahead of the game. Itching begets itching and if we can handle the first set of itches we may be able to win the battle.

  • Derma Drops by Spa Diggety Dog – get these on the spot fast
  • Zymox spray on or crème formula for hotspots
  • Baking Soda – make a poultice and slurry it on the area
  • NuStock – a dependable product to nip itching in the bud
Allergy Elimination

While topical solutions win the battle, allergy elimination wins the war. That’s because it can correct the immune system’s perception of the item as an allergen. This turns the allergic dog into the non-allergic dog.

Allergy Elimination techniques began with Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique (NAET). Forty years of experience taught me that pet owners may easily do a similar program in the comfort of their own home.

My years of experience have allowed me to untangle and decode the basic items that pets need to be treated for. Allergy elimination techniques will naturally reboot, harmonize and revitalize your pet’s inappropriate immune system responses. It corrects the immune system so it behaves correctly and doesn’t overreact.

Some pets will need a direct consultation to assess and go over long term skin problems. For dogs with a less complicated history, they can often be helped with an at home kit.

For dogs with allergies and the owners watching them itch, Apoquel looked like a miracle. Unfortunately, it turned out to be anything but. The negative effects of this drug (as well as the others used to treat allergies) are now well known. Thankfully these Apoquel alternatives are things you can try to mitigate the risks and keep your dog safe and allergy free.

Deva Khalsa VMD

Since beginning her holistically oriented veterinary practice over 25 years ago, Dr Deva Khalsa has been incorporating homeopathy, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and nutritional advice into her practice. She also offers her unique Allergy Elimination 4 Pet technique to naturally reboot your pet's inappropriate immune system responses. She's the author of Dr Khalsa's Natural Dog, now in its second edition. Visit her online at doctordeva.com


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By Dr. Judy Morgan

Shocking Drug Statistic

Shocking Drug Statistic
by Judy Morgan February 17, 2020
I recently read in the AVMA journal that Apoquel has become the top-selling product in the U.S. animal health industry, according to data from the Executive Animal Health Study Center based in Belgium. It has surpassed the flea and tick preventives at different points during the last couple of years, the first time that a therapeutic agent has surpassed the flea and tick preventives that had dominated forever.

I have been outspoken against the use of chemical flea and tick prevention products, as well as the use of immunosuppressive drugs such as Apoquel and steroids for many years. The reason these drugs are so popular is very clear once we realize the top reasons dogs and cats are presented to veterinarians for treatment are itching, ear infections, allergies, and skin disorders.

Side effects listed when using Apoquel include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, anorexia, increased thirst, and overwhelming bacterial and fungal infections, including pneumonia. From the package insert, we see approximately 6% of test dogs developed cancers:

After completing APOQUEL field studies, 239 dogs enrolled in an unmasked (no placebo control), continuation therapy study receiving APOQUEL for an unrestricted period of time. Mean time on this study was 372 days (range 1 to 610 days). Of these 239 dogs, one dog developed demodicosis (demodex mange) following 273 days of APOQUEL administration. One dog developed dermal pigmented viral plaques following 266 days of APOQUEL administration. One dog developed a moderately severe bronchopneumonia after 272 days of APOQUEL administration; this infection resolved with antimicrobial treatment and temporary discontinuation of APOQUEL. One dog was euthanized after developing abdominal ascites and pleural effusion of unknown etiology after 450 days of APOQUEL administration. Six dogs were euthanized because of suspected malignant neoplasms: including thoracic metastatic, abdominal metastatic, splenic, frontal sinus, and intracranial neoplasms, and transitional cell carcinoma after 17, 120, 175, 49, 141, and 286 days of APOQUEL administration, respectively. Two dogs each developed a Grade II mast cell tumor after 52 and 91 days of APOQUEL administration, respectively. One dog developed low grade B-cell lymphoma after 392 days of APOQUEL administration. Two dogs each developed an apocrine gland adenocarcinoma (one dermal, one anal sac) after approximately 210 and 320 days of APOQUEL administration, respectively. One dog developed a low grade oral spindle cell sarcoma after 320 days of APOQUEL administration.

Would you knowingly give your family member a drug to decrease itching if cancer was a possible (or probable) side effect? How many of you have used this drug without any warning from your veterinarian? While this drug has only been studied in dogs, it is now being used off-label for cats, as well.

Allergies, skin infections, and ear infections are related to immune system dysfunction, which commonly occurs secondary to gut dysbiosis (imbalance of good and bad bacteria within the bowel resulting in swelling of the cells lining the bowel and secondary leaky gut).

The basis of allergy treatment requires healing of the gut with an appropriate diet, repair of the immune system, and rebalancing bacterial growth within the body. Holistic veterinarians use herbs, diet, acupuncture, and chiropractic care to rebalance and repair the body.