TAMPA, FL - Pet owner Kiley Shultz says her healthy, 12-year-old golden retriever Apollo got sick the day after his third monthly dose of a popular heartworm medication. Shultz is one of a growing number of pet owners who blame a popular flea and heartworm preventative for killing their dogs.
The Scripps sister station WFTS Investigative-Team combed through reports filed with the Food and Drug Administration. We found 965 complaints where owners blamed their dog's death on Trifexis in the last three and a half years.
Eamonn Kneeshaw is convinced there is a connection. His dog Harry could not stand up a day after taking his first dose of Trifexis. The 12-year-old died a couple of weeks later.
Veterinarian Dr. Arthur Simon said his practice prescribes around 2000 Trifexis doses a month. Dr. Simon says he’s yet to have a single patient complain of a death or serious reaction from the pill.
The drug’s maker, Elanco, maintains they’ve sold 70 million doses of Trifexis and have found no link between the pill and any dog deaths since it came on the market more than three years ago.
The FDA told us it continues to monitor "...all available information on Trifexis in order to determine if actions such as label changes need to be taken."
Scott Neily says his 3-month-old puppy Tucker was the picture of health until he took his first dose of Trifexis. Tucker died in Neily’s arms the day after taking the pill.
The necropsy report blames the puppy's death on heart failure but the cause remains a mystery. The summary states: "This puppy's death was attributed to severe cardiac disease, but unfortunately the cause of the condition was not determined at necropsy."
Dog owners we met with say they will continue to share their stories with the hope of warning others about Trifexis.
All of the pet owners we spoke with took their pets to a veterinarian but no tie to Trifexis was established.
According to its own label, the most common adverse reactions to Trifexis include vomiting, itching and decreased activity. If the problem persists after 1 to 2 days or your dog acts much different than normal you need to contact your vet.
Pet owners whose dogs have suffered severe adverse reactions are asked to report them to both the drug maker Elanco at 888-545-5973 and the FDA at 888-FDA-VETS.