Apoquel for horses

I have a horse who is very, very itchy, particularly in the warmer months. I’ve tried just about every thing possible and nothing really alleviates her symptoms and stops the itching other than dex, and I can’t really have her on dex 7-9 months out of the year.

My vet told me that there were trials done using Apoquel for horses and results were very promising. She has set me up with some to try in the spring. It’s obviously a new study, so there is little information about long term uses or side effects in horses. But i was curious if anyone here has a horse or knows someone who has used apoquel. I believe it was only ‘cleared’ for equine use in 2019, so there may not be many who have used it, but seemed worth asking.

I’d also be curious for those who have used apoquel for dogs if there were any side effects. Obviously, a dog and a horse are not at all the same, but i am trying to learn as much as I can about how the drug functions before deciding whether to try her on it in the spring.

In dogs, it can fuel cancer. Our dog had a skin cancer which made her itchy, but apoquel was not recommended

1 Like

My dog gets apoquel during the spring and summer. Really helps. No side effects that I have noticed. Just remember that it does tamp down the immune system (perhaps part fo the cancer comment above?)

We used it with our dog one summer and it definitely helped. In the late fall, we discontinued it as suggested by the vet after the first snow. She had her first episode of immune mediated thrombocytopenia a few weeks later. Coincidence? ? We never knew, but the rest of her life was one variety or another of autoimmune hell. I will be very cautious about using that drug with another dog in the future.

1 Like

What is the dosing and cost for a horse? My friend spends $70/month for her 70 lb German Shepherd dog. Hoping the cost isn’t prohibitive.


It is not cheap for a horse. I don’t know exact costs yet, but can find out. I was told that it was shown effective with horses at 1x every other day after an initial loading period, so that might help some with the price tag.

I was one of the veterinarians involved in early field trials for Apoquel in horses. It is absolutely miraculous for these itchy miserable horses. We do a loading dose for 7 days, then every other day for 7 doses (so 14 days) then work to figure out how far apart we can go with our daily dose. I haven’t had much success dropping the number of pills per day, but have done well spacing the doses out to every three to four days, but I’m in Florida so the allergy pressures are incredibly high. The cancer risk is theoretical for this drug, but the theory is scientifically valid. We just don’t have enough data in horses (or dog and cats) to call it real. A certain number of animals will get cancer or IHMA or other immune mediated diseases every day. Some of those will have had a drug in their recent past. It takes large numbers of cases before a correlation can be definitively called, unfortunately. That being said, seeing these itchy, allergic horses go from absolutely miserable, to happy is worth it for me.


I hadn’t heard of it being used in horses. Interesting! It is a miracle for many dogs, though the drug is not cheap! My biggest concern that it would just be prohibitively expensive to dose a horse appropriately.

My dog was on it for 30 days (I have the dog who is allergic to grass lol). Never noticed any bad side effects.

It’s been amazing for my seasonally itchy Corgi. He’s on it Sept til after first snow. I load for 7 days full dose and maintain him 1/2 dose. Works for him.

Last winter he had a transient (thankfully) odd squint of one eye for about 6 weeks. For three of those weeks he had an ipsilateral droop of his mouth. Started about a month after finishing his seasonal Apoquel. All his blood work was normal. Local vet and vet at Penn thought just a coincidence. I used it again this fall and knock wood no recurrence.

Good luck with your horse. Itching is awful.

There’s not really been any studies truly validating this. Any time we muck with the immune system it is possible but many of these dogs’ immune systems are already sensitized due to the nature of being allergic.

1 Like

Thanks, Newberry, this is very useful information to have, especially around dosing. I’m also in the south, so plenty hot, wet, and buggy. I’m hoping that if I start early enough in the season I might be able to to still get away with spread out doses, so she’s getting the lost amount needed.

It is tricky to weigh out the pros and cons of drugs. For example, Dex does help my mare a LOT with the itching and discomfort. But long term dex has risks that I am not willing to take. So, now I am trying to figure out if Apoquel makes more sense.

1 Like

I wonder if it would help recurrent uveitis as they believe there is a immune system link? Probably too expensive to experiment with.

It really only works for itching. It doesn’t shut down the immune system like dexamethasone does. It just turns the itch receptor off.

Well, I’m reviving my own old thread to see if in the past couple years more people have tried apoquel with their horses.

I didn’t end up using my apoquel back in 2020 because the magical boett sweet itch blanket made skin allergies very mangeable–hurrah! But a few weeks ago my horse (same horse), suddenly developed respiratory allergies.

She’s been on Zyrtec and Dex with some relief but she’s not doing great. Vet was out this morning to do an allergy test and suggested we try apoquel. I’d only ever heard of it being used for skin allergies in both horses and dogs, but she said she’s seen it work well for respiratory allergies as well. Curious to learn more about people’s experiences with it .

Not on my horses but my dog gets it late spring through fall. It makes a huge difference. I haven’t seen any side effects and I know my vet uses it on her own dog too.
I will say that it almost doubled in price the last month he was on it last year and was quite salty for a large dog-
We did some diet and supplement changes over the winter so I’m hoping maybe he won’t have to be on it or at least will spend less time on it this year

My Corgi takes it for 45-60 days for fall seasonal allergies. It’s life changing. By the first hard freeze I can stop it. My vet recommended a trial for my mini donkey last spring when the traditional treatments weren’t holding and we didn’t want to do more than 3-5 days of Dex. Thankfully the short burst of Dex got him through. If you can afford it I’d try it.

Used it for several years on my dog who had skin, ear, and eye allergies. Worked wonderfully. Kept him from chewing his feet to nubs and lessened the brown ear gunk a little. Did not appear to have any side effects. Not cheap $70-80/month for an 80 lb dog.


In my former life as an equine vet, we used it somewhat regularly in foals with interstitial pneumonia. It did seem to help. So yes, there is some reported use in horses with allergic respiratory disease.

Hope this helps.


Thank you @Ben_and_Me that is helpful to know.

I started my horse on Apoquel Saturday and there seems to be some clear improvement today compared to how she has been–her respiratory rate at rest is much closer to normal. She is still on dex, but the plan is to begin tapering her off.

1 Like