We're here to help during this unprecedented time. Click here to access the Fear Free COVID-19 resource page. Visit the Fear Free COVID-19 resource page

Fear Free At-Home Care of the Dermatology Patient: Meet Louie

Dana Liska, DVM, DACVD, and Michele Rosenbaum, VMD, DACVD

Meet Louie, a 10-year-old Golden Retriever. Louie has been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis and his owners have gone home with a treatment plan from his veterinarian. What Fear Free approaches can we recommend that will make at-home care easier for Louie and his owners, John and Robin?

The first is to work with your pet parents to help them decide which dermatology therapies are best for their pet’s and their own needs and lifestyle. An anchor treatment is a single, sustainable therapy that provides satisfactory long-term control, helping to reduce caregiver burden, anxiety and stress. Owners can use an Itch Tracker at home to monitor their pet’s response to treatment. Find it at www.Scienceof StrongerBonds.com under Dermatology Resources.

Louie was put on an oral medication, APOQUEL(R) (oclacitinib tablet), for his allergic itching and inflammation. To give oral medications to pets in a Fear Free manner, have owners condition them to take a small treat first, then a second treat with the medication, finally receiving a third treat as a reward.

APOQUEL reduced allergic itch and dermatitis as effectively as steroids in an Australian head-to-head clinical study.1 It is given as an oral tablet and controls itch and inflammation in dogs with allergic and atopic dermatitis. APOQUEL has a rapid onset of efficacy starting within four hours,1 and controls itch in 24 hours.2 This makes it ideal to give to your patient first-line to get the itch under control quickly, for stop and start itch control during the diagnostic work-up, and for summer itch flares. The most common side effects of APOQUEL in a short-term clinical study were vomiting and diarrhea.2

You may be able to further reduce your itchy allergic dog and pet parent’s stress by giving a CYTOPOINT(R) injection in the office to avoid problems around medication time. CYTOPOINT is an excellent choice of therapy to reduce the burden of care for busy owners, difficult to medicate dogs, dogs with serious infections, and for early onset allergy patients under 12 months old.

Anxiety and distress about the many treatments required to manage their pet’s chronic disease (like allergic dermatitis) on the part of the owners results in more phone calls and emails to the veterinarian and staff, increasing stress in the practice.3 A recent multi-center study of 68 dogs with atopic dermatitis treated with Cytopoint showed that as soon as day seven, dogs’ itch scores decreased by 57 percent. This decrease in their pet’s itch score was directly correlated with a more than doubling of owner quality of life scores within seven days, showing how owners’ lives are better when their pets are less itchy, especially if this treatment does not increase owner burden of care.4

Dogs with recurrent skin infections like Louie often benefit from regular bathing and topical therapy. Adhesive slow-feeder plates applied to the wall of the tub can make bathing less stressful and provide food-based restraint and distraction. When the mat is smeared with peanut butter or squeeze cheese, Louie can be kept still while licking the wall as his owner bathes him.


Applying ear medications multiple times a day is often very difficult for owners and causes stress and anxiety for many dogs. Long lasting commercial otopacks or thermal-activated ear hydrogels can help reduce the FAS of frequently applying ear medications.

When treating the itchy allergic dog, always provide itch relief first to help reduce stress for the pet and their owner and to maintain their special bond. Choose the treatment that best fits the pet owner and dog’s preferences and life style.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION FOR APOQUEL: APOQUEL. Do not use APOQUEL in dogs less than 12 months of age or those with serious infections. APOQUEL may increase the chances of developing serious infections and may cause existing parasitic skin infestations or pre-existing cancers to get worse. APOQUEL has not been tested in dogs receiving some medications including some commonly used to treat skin conditions such as corticosteroids and cyclosporines. Do not use in breeding, pregnant, or lactating dogs. Most common side effects are vomiting and diarrhea. APOQUEL has been used safely with many common medications including parasiticides, antibiotics and vaccines.

See full Prescribing Information at https://www.apoqueldogs.com/Assets/pdfs/apoquel_pi.pdf

Apoquel Indications. Control of pruritus (itching) associated with allergic dermatitis and control of atopic dermatitis in dogs at least 12 months of age.

Cytopoint Indications. CYTOPOINT has been shown to be effective for the treatment of dogs against allergic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis.


  1. Gadeyne C, et al. Efficacy of oclacitinib (APOQUEL®) compared with prednisolone for the control of pruritus and clinical signs associated with allergic dermatitis in client-owned dogs in Australia. Vet Dermatol. 2014 Dec;25(6):512-8.
  2. Cosgrove SB, et al. Efficacy and safety of oclacitinib for the control of pruritus and associated skin lesions in dogs with canine allergic dermatitis. Vet Dermatol. 2013 Oct;24(5):479-e114.
  3. Spitznagel MB et al. Assessment of caregiver burden and associations with psychosocial function, veterinary service use, and factors related to treatment plan adherence among owners of dogs and cats. JAVMA 2019;254(1):124-132.
  4. Data on file. Study Report 17SORDER-01-01, Zoetis Inc.

This article was reviewed/edited by board-certified veterinary behaviorist Dr. Kenneth Martin and/or veterinary technician specialist in behavior Debbie Martin, LVT.

Sponsored by our friends at Zoetis Petcare. APQ-01013

Happy Paws Magazine

Spring/Summer 2020 Issue Available Now!