Some dog owners express concern over drug

Some dog owners express concern over drug

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Over the past several weeks anxious pet owners have taken to the Internet to talk about a flea and heart worm drug prescribed by vets all over the country.

J.D. Bynum says his 1-year-old dog Dolly was acting strangely every time she took her monthly pill.

"We buy Dolly the most expensive food there is...and it's like I've been literally paying to hurt my dog," he said.

Whenever she took the pill she would lay down, look uncomfortable and then vomit. Once, she even vomited the pill back up and J.D. had to give her another one.

"If I could take it back I would," he said.

The drug is called Trifexis. And according to the drug's parent company Elanco, they have sold more than 50 million doses since Trifexis hit the market in 2011.

Pet owners have started to complain online. One Facebook page called "Trifexis Kills Dogs" has nearly 3,000 followers. Many of them have complaints like J.D.'s, or even worse, citing seizures and even death.

"Peaches is gone," said page administrator Louis Gallo over the phone, "the vet says every organ is destroyed. And I said could it be the Trifexis? And the vet said it could be. But they would not be official about it."

Gallo has since unpublished the page for a redesign. 

Elanco has released a video response to address some of the complaints.

"The product has been vigorously tested prior to approval by the FDA," says Elanco Vet Director Dr. Steve Connell, "I've been a veterinarian for 30 years. Elanco is a company whose sole purpose is to promote animal health so we offer our condolences under the circumstances where a pet has died whatever the reason might be."

According to the FDA, it has received nearly 2,500 complaints of vomiting since Trifexis hit the market through April 2013, the date from when the latest information is available.

It received more than 600 cases of lethargy and 31 reported cases of dog deaths, plus 6 more who had to be put down.

The FDA is clear to warn it can not prove the drug was the cause.

"There are definitely potential side effects that are associated with it," said Dr. Brett Boatsman with the Neel Veterinary Hospital.

Boatsman says with the combination pill it's the flea control drug "Comfortis" that causes the harsher side effects. He's seen a handful of dogs vomit from the pill, and he's even heard of neurological effects like swaying and seizures if the dog is prone to them. But he believes it stops there.

"I would have a hard time blaming Trifexis for any deaths," he said.

He and other vets who spoke with Fox 25, including Dolly's, do not believe the poison amount meant for parasites is enough to kill a dog.

"To cause death it would still be unlikely even with the whole box (of six pills)" Boatsman said.

Pet owner Sean Baker says for 6-year-old Gary the drug has been a big relief.

"He would always bring in fleas in the house. After I gave him this pill I never saw a flea again," Baker said.

He did his research before hand and saw the good and the bad reviews online.

"The day I gave it to him I watched him for hours," he said.

And he recommends all pet owners interested in using the drug do the same.

But J.D. and Dolly are not looking back. J.D. says Trifexis is not welcome in his home and has a stern warning for other pet lovers considering the pill.

"I know you think you're getting the best medication, but you're really not."

Vets who spoke with Fox 25 say any pet, like any human, can have an allergic reaction to a drug and go into shock and even die. Though that's small comfort for those who have lost their pets.

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