8News Investigates: Owners Believe Popular Pet Pill Killed Dogs

Disturbing complaints from grieving pet owners as they believe a popular pet pill killed their dogs.

8News Investigator Kerri O’Brien has uncovered a couple of alarming cases here in our area.

“She passed away in our kitchen with our family,” said one pet owner to 8News.

Mary says she still misses her rottweiler Gracie. The Chesterfield pet owner believes Trifexis killed her otherwise healthy dog.

Trifexis is a heartworm and flea prevention pill, all in one. It’s made by Elanco, a division of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lily.

The drug manufacturer insists the pet pill is safe but some dog owners like Mary aren’t so sure and we’ve discovered the FDA is getting at least one complaint about this drug everyday.

“I was given a couple doses of Trifexis and after her second dose she became ill. She spiked a temperature of a 103 degrees and she started vomiting and refusing to come out of her crate,” said Mary.

She rushed Gracie to the vet but the doctor was stumped. Mary showed 8News paperwork from the vet and tests and blood work showed nothing.

“Her lungs were normal, no fluid, no weezing, her lymph nodes were all good,” says Mary.

Still, Gracie never got better. She was eventually diagnosed with an immune disease, IMHA. What caused it remains a mystery. A few months after that second dose of Trifexis, Gracie was dead.

“Gracie passed away February 17th,” says Mary. King George resident Chris Clendenin refuses to give dog Trifexis. She believes the heartworm medication killed two of her pets.

“He had collapsed, couldn’t breathe, was doing a lot of tremoring,” says Clendenin.

Bandit was given Trifexis after a routine check-up with the vet. Six days later, Clendenin has to put him down. His heart was failing.

“He had never had any heart issue, he had never had any diagnosed heart murmur,” nothing says Clendenin.

Clendenin began to suspect Trifexis after her second dog, Biscuit, became ill.

Clendenin tells us, “He started demonstrating all this copious drooling. He started having some neurological problems, head bobbing, stumbling.”

She started researching and came across the Facebook Page “Does Trifexis Kill Dogs?”

It has more than 5,000 likes On the page, pet owners share stories of loss and ill pets.

Clendinin, she had to eventually put Biscuit down too.

“He just kind of collapsed and could not lift himself up,” says Clendenin.

Through a Freedom of Information Act 8News has discovered Clendenin and Mary are not alone.

The FDA lists 965 complaints from pet owners who believe Trifexis killed their dogs.

The list of complaints also includes thousands of concerns about vomiting and lethargy. Still the FDA says there is no solid evidence linking the drug to the deaths.

But we are told the agency “continues to closely monitor” the complaints. The FDA also says it is reviewing the information “to determine if such actions as label changes need to be taken.” Currently, a box of Trifexis comes with a warning that it may cause vomiting in some dogs and to use caution with dogs with epilepsy.

Drugmaker Elanco insists the drug is safe. Referring to the FDA complaints Elanco tells 8News in statement “There is no certainty that the reported drug caused the adverse event. The adverse event may have been related to an underlying disease, using other drugs at the same time, or other non-drug related causes.”

Church Hill pet owner Derek Powell tells us his dog Sumner has never had an issue with Trifexis. “That’s the only medication that he has used,” says Powell.

Dr. Jason Hiser with Broad Street Veterinary Hospital in Richmond says Trifexis provides excellent heartworm prevention and none of his patients have ever reported serious problems with the drug.

Hiser says, “That’s probably one of the most common one’s that we use.”

8news asked if he gives it to his dog

“Every month. No problems, never seen a problem with it,” Hiser explained

Still for Clendenin and Mary there’s too many unanswered questions.

“I didn’t know anything about Trifexis when I gave it to her. It’s just not chance I would have taken had I known,” says Mary.

Pet owners are advised to talk to their vet about it. Dr. Hiser says don’t stop giving your dog some type of heartworm pill. Heartworm can be fatal if left untreated.

Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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