Tuesday, July 3, 2012

ProHeart 6 Tragedy: Jack's Story

Jasmine had her share of negative drug reactions. I always think long and hard before introducing any new drug, and I do my best to stay away from putting things into her system that don't really belong there. When I do have to give her any, I research the heck out of it.

I didn't become this discriminate until after Jasmine's NSAIDs disaster, though.

Should you, an owner, have to turn every stone?

Jack was a happy, healthy 6 years old Chow-lab mix. He is now dead. What happened?

When Jack went for his annual check-up, it was a very routine visit. He was checked for heartworm and parasites, weighed and examined. He was deemed normal and healthy.

On the same day, he also received his rabies vaccination and a new injectable heartworm preventive, recommended by his vet, ProHeart 6. Very convenient, it only needs to be administered every six months.

Good deal, right?

After a week or so, Jack started acting strangely. Didn't want to go for walks and didn't want to play. Didn't want to eat. Something was going on and Jack was taken to his vet.

Jack's vet discovered that Jack was running a fever but couldn't find anything else wrong with him. Jack was given a shot of steroids and some antibiotics, in case he had an infection. For a while it looked like that was helping.

Things looked fairly good until his owners returned home for a beach to find Jack dead in a pool of blood and vomit. 

Why would Jack, previously healthy and happy, suddenly die like that? Did he eat something bad? But GI problem was ruled out...

What has changed?

His heartworm preventive.

Jack's owners went to research the product. Pfizer's website lists side effects such as lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, and … death.

Jack exhibited exactly all those symptoms, in that order.

It seems the drug was originally pulled off the market in 2004 because of a high rate of adverse reactions.

“Proheart caused more deaths in one year than all the oral heartworm preventives combined did in ten years. When the FDA notified Pfizer that their drug was causing a problem, the manufacturer claimed it was due to the vaccines being given at the same time."
Source: The Senior Dogs Project

In 2008 Pfizer was allowed to re-market the drug if they agreed to add additional warning labels and agreed to mandate that owners be given a drug fact sheet and sign an informed consent...

“ProHeart 6 dog owners must be advised of the risks of ProHeart 6 and sign an Owner Consent Form prior to the first administration.”
Source: Pfizer

Doesn't that just make you wanna run out and get one for your dog?

Jack's owners were never given any fact sheet, nor they were advised of any risks. They also didn't know that ProHeart 6 should not be administered at the same time as vaccinations.

When Jack was showing adverse effects, nobody mentioned that it could have something to do with the preventive he received. Was that considered, Jack might have recovered.

Is it conclusive that that is what killed Jack?

Perhaps not. But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck …

Measure twice and medicate once.”

Do educate yourself about any product that should be used on your dog, be it preventives, vaccinations or medications.

Original story:
Justice for Jack: Dog Owners Beware

“My babys name was Brandi and she was a full bred american pit bull terrior. She was called up to heaven at only two years old after getting this horrible shot.”

“I lost a perfectly healthy 6 yr old shih tzu after Proheart 6 shot.”

Source: Pets.ca


  1. Geez, you'd think that the vets would have read the handout and NOT given Jack the ProHeart at the same time as his routine vaccinations....

    1. You would ... sadly, one cannot take a vet's competence for granted; as it just isn't always there.

  2. Thank you for posting this. My heart aches for the people who lost their pups, and my BP rises when I think of the vets and staff who are not properly educating their clients. I think it falls upon us as pet owners to be our pets advocate and become the educated client that questions and researches along the way, the care their pets receive...

    1. Hi Teri.

      Yes, it does [fall upon us]; as we cannot rely on anybody else to do it for us.