Several pet owners blame popular preventative drug for dog deaths

In 2011, Kinzie, a dog who took Trifexis six weeks after it went on the market, died; the animal’s owner believes the drug killed his pet. (Photo credit: WSB-TV)

A popular flea, heartworm, and intestinal parasite medication often prescribed for dogs is at the center of a heated debate going on between some pet owners and the veterinary community.

Trifexis, a 3-in-1 monthly chewable tablet for dogs has been deemed safe by the FDA, but many dog owners say the drug is quite dangerous and in some cases, even fatal.

According to Atlanta’s WSB-TV, consumer complaints about the drug and dog deaths have skyrocketed by 40 percent in recent months, with one new complaint coming into the FDA every day.

“[The] FDA is aware of adverse event reports in connection with Trifexis and continues to closely monitor them,” the agency said in a statement.

One case under review by the FDA involves a Scottish Terrier named Fergus. The dog’s owner, Anita Bergen, says her pooch died after taking one Trifexis chew. Bergen believes that one pill caused Fergus to lose muscle control and go into liver failure. Ten-year-old Fergus never recovered, and two months later, Bergen had to make the tough decision to end her poor dog’s suffering.

“The initial reaction from taking that one pill was horrible. It’s just horrendous to watch an animal die such a horrible, painful, excruciating death,” Bergen remembers.

Bergen is one of the nearly 1,000 pet owners who have submitted death complaints to the FDA. She says while Trifexis acknowledges possible side effects ranging from vomiting to lethargy, the drug does not carry a death warning.

“I do feel deceived,” says Bergen. “I do not feel there was full disclosure.”

Elanco, the pet med company that produces Trifexis, denies any link between their product and pet deaths.

“Trifexis has been rigorously tested and approved as safe by the U.S. FDA, the European Medicines Agency and many other countries,” Elanco tells HLN. “There is no link established between Trifexis use and death.”

Veterinarians, by and large, also still believe Trifexis is a safe choice for dogs.

“Anytime there is a new or relatively new product out there, there is going to be some concerns about it — some complaints about it,” veterinarian Dr. Jerome Williams tells WBRC.

“We have used this product since it’s been on the market and most especially the flea component, which has been on the market much longer, and we have not seen an adverse reaction in the years we have used it,” he insists. “We feel quite confident that it is a sound, solid, safe products and we will continue to recommend it.”

But many pet owners are not convinced. Some have banded together to create a Facebook community called “Does Trifexis Kill Dogs?”, where dog owners can exchange information about the controversial drug. Others have created an online petition that calls for a mass recall of Trifexis. Close to 3,400 signatures have been collected so far.

Sources: “Does Trifexis Kill Dogs?”, WBRC, HLN, WSB-TV