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Regret at the Vet
A beloved family pet died because they didn't ask questions
Justice for Jack ProHeart6 warning
Jack, a six-year-old Lab mix, died after receiving a ProHeart6 injection.

Like most dog owners who trust their vet, Ashley Sassaman didn't hesitate to follow her vet's suggestion that her two dogs, Jack and Katrina, be given a new heartworm preventative, ProHeart6, at their last wellness check up. The convenience of a shot every six months instead of remembering to give monthly medication was a big selling point for the working mom. A week after the shot, Jack grew lethargic. He no longer wanted to play fetch or go for walks. The family brought him back to the vet, but she couldn't find an explanation for the behavior change. Three weeks after the shot, they found Jack dead at home. Ashley began to ask questions - ones that she wishes she had asked before Jack received the shot - and discovered that the FDA had briefly taken ProHeart6 off the market due to adverse reactions, including death. Also, Pfizer, the company that made ProHeart6, advised vets that they should discuss possible side effects with the dog's owners, and have them sign an "Owner Consent Form" before the first injection, a protocol that Ashey's vet did not follow. Ashley has since changed vets and Pfizer offered to pay for Jack's necropsy. It is her hope that sharing Jack's story will encourage other dog lovers to ask questions and do research in order to keep their dogs healthy and safe.    


Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

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Submitted by Janet | June 4 2012 |

Very timely information! Thank you so much for writing this! It's very hard to keep up with all the latest and greatest and newest stuff in dog healthcare. If you haven't already check something out on your own and you're in the vet's office and you're vet suggests something it's hard to do your homework at that point. You just trust your vet.

Submitted by Kay | June 4 2012 |

Good old Pfizer...they almost killed my Lab in 2002 when Rimadyl first came on the market. They don't test well enough in my opinion. btw, pfizer paid all our vet bills to get my dog well again (LIVER FAILURE)

Submitted by hikerdeb | June 12 2012 |

My first Sheltie, Sunny, almost died of liver failure due to Rimadyl when she was 7 years old. She was in the ICU for nine days, was sick for a month, and lost 25 percent of her body weight. But fortunately the liver can sometimes regenerate itself. She did make a complete recovery and lived for another seven years. But I will NEVER give any of my dogs Rimadyl ever again. And anytime the vet suggests a new medication, I ask lots of questions about side effects and alternative treatments.

Submitted by Anonymous | June 5 2012 |


Submitted by Anonymous | June 11 2012 |

Heartworm medication is not needed if your dog is an indoor dog that does not play with other dogs at dog parks. Had one dog live to be 17, died of old age, never had heartworm medication. Current dog is over 9, healthy, no problems and again, no heartworm medication. I don't believe in giving medication unless it's warranted. (My vet agrees with me, btw. Heartworm, while yes, very serious, isn't as prevelent as we've been led to believe, especially for single indoor dogs.)

Submitted by C. Rice | July 27 2012 |

Your dog NEVER goes outside? One bite from an infected mosquito is all it takes to give your dog heartworm. We see dogs that are heartworm positive surrendered to our shelter all the time. So sad; the treatment is so hard on the dog (and so expensive) and it all could have been prevented by a simple monthly pill! Unless you live where there are no mosquitoes, I question your vet's opinion!!

Submitted by Anonymous | July 27 2012 |

Heartworms are spread by mosquitos. Has nothing at all to do with playing with other dogs. You're just an irresponsible owner who got lucky.

Submitted by ElcyIL | July 27 2012 |

Heartworm has NOTHING to do with your dog being exposed to other dogs, it's contracted from mosquitoes.

Submitted by Anonymous | June 11 2012 |

I hope the vet and the drug company will be sued!!!!!!!!! I refuse top give my beloved dog any of those horrid drugs.

Submitted by Rhonda Heilman | June 11 2012 |

My vet had talked to me about this, but i have always used Revolution and did not want to switch...I'm glad i did not switch to the injection....I'm so sorry to hear about Jack....this is truly very sad....

Submitted by John V. Brennan | June 13 2012 |

oh yeah!!! ...don't take any shots or wierd meds or anything from your Vet without checking the internet first... unless you're really sure about things... or you feel it's worth taking a chance, like in a dire emergency... "yearly" shots aren't always necessary and many states are trying to change the laws regarding how often rabies shots are needed... Senior dogs don't need shots! and/or some meds ...I feel horrible for these people... they didn't know better... (my entire heart goes out to you folks) worse than that, i feel horrible for my parents... as something similar happened to them and their dog kim... a senior... given powerful meds chock full of side effects that killed her...

Some Veterinarians are also $alesmen... and they're willing to take chances for bucks... some are just plain F'n idiots... and suspected "killer vets" should be immediately shut down pending investigation and when found guilty, they should be forced to spend every dollar they have or don't have paying for lawyers, and every moment of their remaining lives in court or in padded cells writing "i will not be a bad vet" a trillion times on the walls and floors with a crayon... Beware Killer Vets! (...jeeze... makes me so angry... got testosterone shooting out of my nose... where's my meds... gonna need a bit extra today...)

Submitted by Anonymous | June 14 2012 |

Thank goodness no heartworm in Alaska. This is a heartbreaking story and just proves that we need to be advocates for our pets' care as well as our own.

Submitted by Anonymous | July 27 2012 |

I don't trust most vets. My dog was having neurological problems and visiting the emergency room monthly, right around the time he would get his interceptor. Of course they thought I was crazy when I told them. He doesn't take interceptor anymore and hasn't had any reactions..

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