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Dog owners worried about drug that's making pets sick

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Updated: 11/26/2013 11:43 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --Two months ago, Skip Knowles and his girlfriend Kathy lost their dog Bogie, days after he was diagnosed with diabetes.

They contacted Action News after hearing reports that the medication Trifexis, which Bogie had been taking for five months, was being blamed by other pet owners for serious medical conditions in their pets.

Recently, more than 2,900 people have joined a Facebook group called "Trifexis Kills Dogs," where they have shared their stories of problems with the heartworm and flea medicine.

Kathy noticed problems after Bogie's first dose.

"His respiration became very shallow. He wouldn't move. You could move parts of him and he was like a limp rag," she said.

Their vet told them side effects were common, and that the drug maker, Elanco, warns of vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures.

For five more months, Bogie, and the Knowles' other dog Tootsie, continued taking Trifexis.

Action News pulled records from the FDA for Spinosad + Milbemycin Oxime, which are the ingredients in Trifexis and its sister brand, Comboguard. We found a long list of side effects have been reported since then, including 31 deaths.

An Elanco spokesperson said the company has dispensed more than 50 million doses of Trifexis since it hit the market in 2011.

Local veterinarian Susan Shelton tell us said the product is indeed in demand, and makes sense to many pet owners because it's a monthly chewable tablet that combines multiple medicines into one.

"It is a big seller. It is very popular, and that's a lot of bang for your buck," said Shelton.

But reports by other pet owners of side effects similar to what Bogie experienced before he died, still have the Knowles wondering if Trifexis played a part.

"It may or may not have, but how many dogs have to die or have adverse reactions before Elanco says, 'Alright, maybe we need to look into this a little bit?' This isn't about blame. This is about fixing something I believe that is causing a problem. I just want to know what they're doing to help other pet owners like us."

An Elanco spokesperson tells Action News the company continues to monitor every report and has not found any links between the product and death. An FDA spokesperson confirms it also continues to monitor reports frequently, as they do it does for any drug that has been on the market less than three years.

Elanco is also reaching out to vets like Shelton, with additional information to share with pet owners.
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