This will be my final post on this topic, as it is time for my family to move on. We still don’t have the conclusive answers we wish we had, but we feel better knowing that we diligently pursued answers for Jack. Our hearts will continue to heal, and one day, we will adopt another dog to love.
June 8, 2012: We received a condolence card from our vet. It did not address any of our concerns, but it expressed sympathy for our loss.
July 11, 2012: We received a check from Pfizer in the amount of $69.50 to reimburse us for the money we spent to have Jack cremated. (He was not cremated, as Pfizer took possession of his body to do the necropsy.)
July 24, 2012: Necropsy Results
Pfizer called and spoke with my husband regarding the results of the necropsy. Their findings were inconclusive. Jack had a small heartworm in his heart, but no damage to the heart. His toxicology revealed that he had slightly elevated levels of vitamin A and zinc. That was it. There was no obvious cause of death. Pfizer stated to my husband that they do not believe ProHeart 6 caused his death, especially since so much time passed between when he first received the medicine and when he died. (Total time from when he received the shot to his death was 5 weeks.)
I also spoke with a vet from the Alabama State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (ASBVME) today. He basically stated the same thing that Pfizer said regarding the drug.
He said it is unlikely that the drug caused Jack’s death since 5 weeks had passed since he had been given the drug.
He also said that he had spoken with the vet who administered ProHeart 6 to Jack. The vet admitted that she did not give us an informed consent form to sign. She apparently did not know such a form was required by the FDA. The ASBVM let her know that obtaining the consent form for ProHeart 6 is a federal requirement (required by the FDA). I have some opinions on her lack of knowledge, but I won’t speculate further on that topic. I was assured by the ASBVME that the vet in question, and the other vets in her office, were brought up to speed on the federal requirements of that drug.
Answers to FAQs and Other Updates: Our other dog, a rottweiler mix rescue named Katrina, is healthy and doing well. Our son still asks occasionally when we are going to go pick up Jack, if he can take Jack on a walk, or if he can go outside and throw the ball with Jack.
Of course, we will not be going back to our former veterinarian. We will be looking for a new vet who we feel is more up-to-date on current veterinary practices and is more communicative with pet owners.
Our Conclusions: The necropsy was inconclusive, so we cannot say what caused Jack’s death. I do still think that the timing and manner of his death are very suspicious. I also know that had the vet given us the “informed consent” document to sign prior to administrating ProHeart 6, we would not have consented, and we feel that Jack would probably still be alive.
While we personally feel that the timing of Jack’s death and the administration of this drug, combined with the symptoms of his death, make it possible that ProHeart 6 was a factor in his death, that theory is neither supported nor discredited by the findings of his necropsy. We cannot say it is anything more than a possibility.
Also, it is worth noting (in the spirit of full disclosure and honesty) that most dogs who have an adverse reaction to ProHeart 6 die much sooner/quicker than Jack did. (The total time from drug administration to death for Jack was 5 weeks.)
Our Purpose: My purpose in sharing our story with you is to encourage you to have candid conversations with your veterinarian, just as you word your doctor or pediatrician.
We do believe that heartworm preventative medications are important for our animals. We are not advocating that you skip this important medication. We just encourage you to discuss the different options available (oral, topical, injectable) with your vet.
Although we will not use ProHeart 6 again, we will continue to give our dog a heartworm preventative. We will also follow the state requirement of giving our dogs the rabies vaccine once every 3 years. Please check with your local authorities to see what medications you are required to give your dog, and please find a vet you trust and discuss each aspect of your animal’s care thoroughly before making any decisions.
***While the majority of comments have been supportive, some have not. You are entitled to your opinion, but please note that I will not publish comments that contain threatening or vulgar language. Nor will I publish comments that are anonymous. ***