DEAR DR. FOX: In September 2015, I wrote to you about the Facebook group "Does Bravecto Kill Dogs?" This group was formed to bring awareness to the side effects of the oral flea and tick medication Bravecto. Over 4,600 members have joined the group since our launch just five months ago, and we have a global reach. The number of reports on the group is now too high to count. However, a veterinarian in our group has received only two Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports of adverse drug events (ADE) for Bravecto. Since Bravecto was approved in the United States in 2014, a total of 5,319 ADE reports have been filed with the FDA, including over 160 reported deaths. These numbers include only ADE reports filed in the U.S. We are aware of many additional reports of side effects and deaths in other countries.
The most common side effect continues to be vomiting and diarrhea, with blood in both, as well as seizures and skin irritation. Lethargy and failure to eat are also common symptoms. Additionally, there are an alarming number of reports of kidney and liver damage as well as reports of abnormal blood cell counts. The side effects are often not short-lived, and dog owners are incurring substantial costs for treatment.
We firmly believe the number of ADE reports is understated. Many owners don't know they can and should report side effects. Several members reported that their veterinarians stated that their dogs must have ingested poison. However, the members are confident the only new thing ingested was Bravecto. We encourage dog owners to come to the group for guidance on reporting side effects to Merck and the FDA, and for support as they manage symptoms.
I also want to note that a topical form of Bravecto was recently denied marketing authorization in Europe due to user safety concerns.
I have attached links to both the FDA adverse event reports and the Facebook group. Please encourage your readers to review this important information: yourpetsneedthis.com and facebook.com/groups/411371212394679/. -- S.W., Andover, Massachusetts
DEAR S.W.: Your efforts to collect documentation on this dubious pesticide is to be applauded, and I trust that readers will take note and also inform their veterinarians if this product is on sale at their clinics. It should be taken off the market, and safer alternatives and preventive measures adopted, as you can read on my website, DrFoxVet.net.
DR. FOX: Since about 2002, we have been rescuing cats and dogs. This started with my cat, Callie. She is over 15 years old, and she's gone from 6.2 pounds to 4.9 pounds in the past six months. She has been on Hill's Prescription y/d since she was diagnosed with thyroid issues a couple of years ago. The diet has kept the thyroid issue in check without meds.
Recently, her blood work came back as positive for kidney disease. She has been put on the k/d food. I feel helpless, as I understand that there is nothing I can do to help her. I have been feeding her small amounts of wet k/d with water added every two or three hours, and she does appear to be stronger.
Is there anything else I can do for her to make her more comfortable or to slow down the destruction of her kidneys? I do not know the signs that the situation is in its final stages. Can you help me understand this disease? -- T.J.W., Lanham, Maryland
DEAR T.J.W.: I am sorry to hear about your cat's double-whammy -- chronic kidney disease preceded by hyperthyroidism, fortunately caught early enough for a special diet to help control.
High levels of iodine and fluoride in some cat foods and thyroid-harming environmental contaminants put cats at risk.
Kidney issues can be associated with dental problems, so it is imperative that a thorough oral exam be given to all cats during their regular wellness examination.
For details about helping cats and dogs with chronic kidney failure, see " Care for Dogs and Cats With Renal Failure" on my website, DrFoxVet.net.
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox's website at DrFoxVet.net.)